The Music Theory Advantage TM
 Quickly Learn and Remember how to Spell
The Major and Natural Minor Scales

Created by
Max Maxwell
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This method for memorizing key signatures and scale spellings was created over the course of six years of the research and development of music and mathematics cirriculum that have been used in schools all over the U.S. and internationally. It is the fastest and easiest method to learn AND remember how to spell all the musical intervals. This, and other methods released on this site are part of our mission to give education improvements to the public for free. See our Mission Statement.

HOW IT WORKS

First, you will learn a series of Images (Key / Note Images) that will let you easily memorize a series of fifths used to interpret key signatures. Then you will learn another series of images (The Number Images) that work very well to let you easily memorize how many sharps or flats are in every key. The combination of the two sets of images, which are easy to use down to seven years of age, lets you know which notes in each key signature are sharp and flat. Once someone is familiar with the system, you can teach the average adult to spell all the major and natural minor scales in less than an hour with just verbal instruction. My speed record is less than half an hour.

The Key / Note Images

In order to be able to easily spell the major and natural minor scales, you must know the key signatures. This means knowing how many sharps or flats are in a key and knowing the names of those sharps or flats. The first letter in the names of the following series of images will be used to represent both musical keys and notes. I call them the Key / Note Images. Memorizing this series of seven images is the first step to memorizing the key signatures and being able to spell all the scales for those keys. It is important to know the exact order of the series of images. Therefore, each image will physically come out of the prior image, with the sole exception of the first image (FIN). This will visually link the images in a particular order. Reciting the series of images in forward order gives you the order of sharps as they appear in key signatures from left to right (forward: F-C-G-D-A-E-B). Reciting the series of the images in backward order gives you the order of flats as they appear in key signatures from left to right (backward: B-E-A-D-G-C-F). This order is also a series of fifths.

Fin - Car - Gear - Die - Arm - Ear - Bike

F - C - G - D - A - E - B              B - E - A - D - G - C - F
    

Memorize the Key / Note Images!
The first image is a fin such as on a shark or dolphin. 

FIN

See a fin sticking out of water.
This fin has a sharp edge.
The edge of the fin is so sharp that anything it runs into will be cut in half.
See the fin with a sharp edge!
But when you see it, you can just say 'Fin'.

 

CAR

As you look at the fin, you see a car burst out of the middle of the fin. The car is damaged.
Because of the cut glass and mangled metal, this car has sharp edges.
See the car with sharp edges burst out of the middle of the fin!
But when you see it, you can just say 'car'.
It is important to keep in mind that each image comes out of the middle or end of the previous image.
They are not on top of the previous image.

 

 

  GEAR

See a gear tear through the car with sharp edges.
Hear the metal tearing as you see the gear burst out of the front of the car!

 

 

DIE 

Coming through the hole in the middle of the gear is a die.
Because of the size of the gear it is the largest die you have ever seen.
See the die move through the gear!

 

 ARM

Growing on the die is an arm!
It is a human arm that is alive and can grab things near the die.
See the die with an arm!

 

 EAR

Suddenly the arm has an ear for a hand!
It’s the only hearing arm in the world.
See the arm with an ear for a hand!

 

BIKE

 Coming out of the ear is a tiny bike.
See the bike come out of the ear!

 

 

 How to Practice with The Images

The linking of the images (fin with car coming out of the middle, car with gear coming out the front end, etc.) tells you the order of the images that you need to remember. Just remember that at the start of the list is the fin. Work your way through the linked images, seeing how each image emerges from the previous image. Say each image name as you see it. Look back over the seven images. It is important to recognize that each image comes out of the middle of the previous image. At no time does an image come out of the top of a previous image. (of course, the fin is first and comes out of nothing)

Practice reciting the list in the forward order without looking at the images on this page. It is very important to Visualize the images as you say them.

Forward order:

Start with the first image in the list.

See (in your mind) the fin with a sharp edge and say, “fin.”

See the car with a sharp edges coming out of the fin and say “car.”

See the gear coming out of the front end of the car and say, “gear.”

See the die moving through the hole in the gear and say, “die.”

See the arm growing on the die and say, “arm.”

See the ear as the arm’s hand and say, “ear.”

See the bike driving out of the ear and say, “bike.”

 

Repeat visualizing this sequence and saying the names of the images. Do it until you can name the images from fin to bike quickly and accurately.

fin - car - gear - die - arm - ear - bike

Once you can name the images from fin to bike quickly and accurately, practice saying the list of images backwards. Do not practice the backward order until you can name the images from fin to bike quickly and accurately in the forward order.

 Backward order:

Start from the last image in the list and say, “bike

See the bike come out of the ear and say, “ear

See the ear on the arm and say, “arm

See the arm growing on the die and say, “die

See the die come through the hole in the gear and say, “gear

See the gear come out of the front of the car and say, “car

See the car burst through the middle of the fin and say, “fin

 

Practice naming the list of images backwards until you can do it from bike to fin quickly and accurately.

bike - ear - arm - die - gear - car - fin

Exercise 1:
It is absolutely critical that you practice this list of images forwards and backwards until you are fast at naming the images in both orders. The goal is to be able to easily recite the images quickly in their correct order both forward and backward. Stop reading now and practice this list! Take as much time as you need to do it well. It is also very important that you visualize each image as you name it. Visualizing will ensure that you are going to remember it much longer.

Practice reciting the images your learned in the forward and backward order without looking at this page. When you have mastered this, click on the link for Lesson Two.

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Copyright © 2008-2011 Kenneth J. Maxwell Jr.