New Printable: Beginning Muscle Builders Booklet

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I am super excited about this new printable! Today I want to share with you my technique program for my young beginners.

One of the downfalls of many beginning method books is that students are often confined to learning only a few hand positions. They get really good at playing in C or G position, and then when trickier keys like E or B Major are introduced (finally), students are usually not as confident.

I like to get my beginning students playing in many different keys all over the keyboard as soon as possible. I want them to be familiar with how these different positions (which include sharps and flats) feel, and I want them to learn that just because there are flats or sharps, it doesn’t mean it is hard.

I also want my students to learn chords as soon as possible and be confident spelling and playing many different chords – this is an awesome help in learning practically all of their pieces, and also lends to opportunities to teach harmonization and other creative keyboard skills.

This little booklet guides young students through learning all of the white-key major five-finger positions, including scales, arpeggios and chords.

Each key consists of the following:

  • a colorful “picture scale” to show which keys to play and the names of the notes
  • reminders on good piano technique
  • various hands-alone practice directions for five-finger scales
  • instructions on how to play arpeggios and chords, including technique tips & a fun way to remember the difference between arpeggios and chords (you wouldn’t believe how many of my students mix the two up!)
  • a chord-spelling review to help students remember the notes in each chord
Each item has a little circle next to it that can either be filled in or checked off (or better yet, use a fun little sticker!) when the student has completed the assignment. I usually draw a circle around the printed circle of each assigned item for the week, and we pass it off with a sticker the following week.
The colorful circles on the picture scales are just the right size for a standard round sticker (these ones fit great and are super cute – a fun incentive for youngsters!) – and after the student has learned the scale, I love to put stickers on the three notes used in an arpeggio and chord. It is a great visual reminder!
I often add other assignments to the ones in the booklet, such as playing any of the scales or arpeggios in a technique you’d like to work on (staccato or legato, for example). I have also taught students about the damper pedal (by opening up the piano and showing them how it all works), and then we have fun playing our 4-octave arpeggios with the damper pedal for a fun and “fancy” sound. Some of my students tend to scoot on the bench a lot, so I also used this as a way to practice leaning to reach the high or low notes.
Another wonderful thing you can do once the student has learned a few of the keys is to have them practice some simple transposition. Take a song that can be played in a five-finger pattern from their method book (for instance, one that is written in C position) and have them transpose to any other key that they have learned! A great song for this is “Ode to Joy,” by the way!
I have been so pleased with the progress of my young students as they have worked their way through this booklet and learned so many different scales and chords. I hope you can get some good use out of it in your studio as well!
I like to print this in booklet format, which you will have to choose in the “Print” settings. Be sure to select the double-sided booklet option – then all you need to do is fold it all in half for a fun little technique booklet. You may download the booklet here, and you can also find it on my “Printables & Downloads” page. Enjoy!

Find Muscle Builder Book Level 2 here, and Muscle Builder Book Level 3 here!

Jennifer Boster

8 Responses to “New Printable: Beginning Muscle Builders Booklet

  • You don't know me… but I love you! And I have for a long time! Thanks for helping me be a better piano teacher!

  • Aw, thanks Sundy! You are so sweet. Thanks for the nice comment! Isn't it wonderful that we can all help inspire each other to be better teachers via blogging? Technology is great 🙂

  • What an awesome booklet ~ I can't wait to share it with my newest students! Thanks so much!

  • You're welcome, Tiffany! Hope it comes in handy!

  • This looks terrific! I agree with you – teaching many 5-note scales, chords, and arpeggios earlier than they are presented in their lesson books is a good thing, and the students don't seem to mind one bit 😉 Thanks for this great resource!

  • You're welcome Melody! And I agree! Kids are so smart, why not teach them many keys and hand positions right from the get-go, instead of making them think they can only play a couple and the others are hard?

  • Anonymous
    6 years ago

    I Love, love the booklet! It is what I have been looking for a while for my youngest/beginner students ( 3-4 years . I tried the C Major 5FP yesterday and they loved it! Their favorite part, so far, was "tip-toe" up and down the keys. Thank you so much!!!


  • This is wonderful! I often have my little beginners playing these pentascales, too, but I like having a sheet with instructions and different ideas for practicing! I especially like the "tip-toe" idea. 🙂 I'll definitely be using this–thank you so much for sharing!