Music Olympics

Music Olympics


Watching each of you prepare is an inspiration! Regardless of how you "score," take pride and confidence in knowing that you've done your best. Enjoy the experience, chat and laugh with the other students (outside the classrooms), and encourage each other throughout the day! Cheerfully greet each teacher as you enter each room, and kindly thank them on the way out.

Best wishes for a fabulous round of Olympics,



- General quizzes and games

- Music Learning Community (TONS of attractive-looking games)

- Teoria

- (Upper Intermediate and above interval identification - C major, Level 2 or above accidentals)

- Annette Mackey Theory

- Young Composers

- (good for creating rhythm exercises)


General Study Reminders for Scales, Chords, Arpeggios

- Chart your progress!!! Keep this chart in your piano binder so we can review it at lessons.

- Study first. See the “path” and "fingering pattern" thoroughly before you begin. Make observations. The goal is to learn the "language" -- not just play each pattern over and over until it "sticks" in the muscle memory.

- DON'T RUSH! Make no mistakes. No “hunting and pecking.”

- Drill to the tricky note (minimum 10 times up to faster tempo).

- Once you get your notes down, practice with the metronome! Know your minimum tempo requirements.

- Don't forget to take each step thoroughly up to a quick tempo (hands separate, hands together, 1 octave then 2 octaves, etc).

Tips for Scales

1) See the scale path. Identify the key signature, then point to each note in the scale going up and down. Say the name of the key signature out loud as you are pointing up and down. Do this several times. This will help you to "see" and memorize the path clearly.

2) See the "3/4 crossover pattern" (say it out loud!). Notice that there is one big group (4 notes) and one little group (3 notes) in every scale. 4 gets you over the big group, 3 gets you over the little group. Watch the LH going up, and the RH going down.

3) See the “tuck (or cross over) after black note” pattern. This principle "makes room" for the had to tuck or cross over.

- Don't "twist" the wrist on the tucks and cross-overs. Don't collapse the wrist when you play the thumb!

- Hear/see the half and whole steps in the scale.

- Notice that all white minors have identical fingering to their corresponding majors (C and c, etc).

Tips for Cadences

- Most importantly, see the "scale path"! The cadence plays ONLY on the notes of the scale path.

- Minor cadences: See/hear the 1/2 step going up on the top of the 2nd chord, and 1/2 step going down on the bottom of the 2nd to last chord. (Major cadences have a whole step on the top, then a half step on the bottom.)

- Minor cadences: See/hear the order of major and minor chords (minor, minor, minor, major, minor)

- Identify the letter name of the I, IV and V chord (or i, iv, and V chord... if minor).

- “Loose” wrists (but don't drop too low!). Drop the weight of your arm into the keyboard. Keep #5 fingers curved!

Tips for Triad Inversions

- Identify the 2/3 swap between left and right hands on chords 2 and 3 of the 4 chords. ("Lean left, then lean right.") Say the fingering out loud.

- Focus on the left hand going up, and the right hand going down.

- “Bounce” wrists (but not too low!). Drop the weight of your arm into the keyboard and push forward at the same time.

Tips for Arpeggios

- Use your arpeggios book! It has every finger written in it!

- Identify the LH fingering principle for arpeggios that start on white keys: “Are there 1 or 2 white notes between the arpeggio notes?”

- Play portato, but don't "bounce" -- keep your wrists gliding evenly along the keyboard. Better to have less portato than more.

- Don’t twist at all, don't tuck too hard – slide into position instead.

- Don't collapse the wrist when you play the thumb OR pinkie! Keep the wrist up at all times.

- Older students, see the main six chord shapes, and then the four B/b, B-flat/b-flat chord shapes.

(C/d/e/F/G/a) (c/f/g) (D/E/A) (Eb) (eb) (F#)


- 5 minutes/day

- Choose music that is just a little easier than the level you play at.

- Master the 30-second pre-study (see below). (Study no more than 2 lines. That's probably how long your test will be.) Use your stopwatch so you know exactly what 30 seconds feels like!

- Intermediate level and up: play each line 2-3 times! (Don't just play straight through the whole piece.)

- Go slowly!!! Don't rush the easy spots.

- Better to pause than hit a wrong note. If you pause, "take advantage" of the pause and make sure you play the next notes correctly. Don't pause and then try to rush back in and hit wrong notes - you'll get 2 points off, instead of 1.

- Don't go back and fix mistakes! Going back to the beginning of the measure to fix the measure will not put the point back on. They will take off a point every time you go backwards in the measure! (You can fix a note that you just played... just don't restart the whole measure.)

- Intermediate level and up: consider using the 5-day plan: Day 1) LH only, 2) Hands together, 3) LH only, 4) Hands together, 5) LH only


1) Check first measure details (clefs, key signature, time signature)

2) Find hand position!

3) Scan notes. See any tricky spots?

4) Scan rhythm.

5) Scan dynamics and other marks.

6) Check key signature AGAIN!

7) Start counting and reading notes silently.

8) Play.


- Focus very hard on the first few intervals/chords you try each day. Those are the most critical!

- SING the intervals! (Play the bottom note, sing the top, then play the top to see if you sang it correctly.)


- Use (and use Annette Mackey Theory for "melodic" interval practice... Go to the interval exercise worksheets on this site.)

- Practice reading melodic ("broken") intervals as well -- not just harmonic ("blocked") intervals!


- Make sure you can visualize/understand your terms and definitions in an actual music score.

- Analyze and memorize visually: "Mark up" your theory sheet based on observations you make. Highlight or underline key words. Divide long definitions into parts.

- Memorize word perfect.

- Say the definition with its term. Don't memorize the definition apart from its term!

- Memorize out loud so you can hear yourself!

- Keep a copy of the sheet in your car so it's handy when you have that "free time"!

- Circle of 5ths... follows the hours of the clock. (Should be included in your scales book. If not, let me know.)

- Be able to draw your key signatures! (Sharps and flats must be on the exact line/space, and must be in the correct order. See your scales book for the correct pattern.)

- Rhythms: You might print the rhythms worksheets from this page, and "white out" random notes... then draw them back in. This will help you get ready for the theory text!


- QUICKLY count the first measure in your mind before you start. (Don't take too long though--they can deduct a point if you wait more than a couple seconds or so to start.)

- Do not stop and correct if you mix up whispering versus saying it out loud. The judges will not take off points for whispering or not whispering.

- Look ahead! Don't get caught by surprise. :)

- Once you have your counting figured out and "fairly polished," turn on the metronome.

- Count out loud using music books -- not just our rhythms worksheet.

* For the upper levels who need it, check out this cut-time worksheet! (ALWAYS count 1 + 2 + for every measure.) You can also practice the Elementary 4/4 worksheet on our website... just count it in cut-time!


- WATCH YOUR CLEF SIGNS! Don't miss a bass clef sign... or you'll get the whole row wrong!

- Notes: If the treble and bass notes are all mixed together, do the treble notes first and then the bass notes. (Don't go back and forth, back and forth... That's when you might get mixed up.)

- Intervals: Practice using Teoria and (see links above) since one site uses all harmonic intervals, and the other site uses all melodic intervals.



* Novice - Low Interm (4/4)

* Interm - Advanced (4/4)

* Low Interm - Advanced (6/8)


* Primary - Elem

* Low Interm - Up Interm

* Advanced