Circle of 4ths Warm-Ups

Thank you for visiting. Below you will find a link to download a PDF of a warm-up sheet I use with all of the honor bands I do during the warm-up process. I give you my permission to download this PDF and copy it and use it with your students. Now for the explanation:

Harmonic progressions of movement by a 4th are one of the most common progressions in all of music. Your students will encounter this in just about every piece they play. To help them build their ears and musicianship, I have groups play many fundamentals using this circle of 4ths - scales, chords, technical exercises, etc. Have the students find their "written" note on the circle and then just proceed around the circle. I start with unisons first. Even younger students can do this. I tell students that a Gb should not sound any different than a concert F. Of course often it does, but they can do this, we just have to ask them to do it.

The next thing I do using this warm-up sheet is to have students play a I-IV-V7-I progression voiced in SATB like chorales, but using only scale degree numbers or solfège. Once they learn one key, there is no reason they cannot learn how to play this progression in every key.

Finally, I have the students learn the chord progression for Pachebel's Cannon by the numbers or solfège in a key - I like Eb. Once they are successful with that, then ask them to play it in another key, and then eventually in all keys. Trust me, they can do it, even middle school students. This is a fantastic way to get them to think in keys and to play the notes of the key and not just be button pushers. Here is the best part - once they know how to do this, then take a chorale you like. Have the students write in the scale degree numbers or solfège for the chorale, and then have them play that chorale different keys. There are endless possibilities with this!

If you have any question, send me an email and we can discuss this more. I would love to hear your feedback on how this works for your group.  Good luck! -Larry


Download file, click this - Circle of 4ths