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Teach Rhythm & Scales
with Gismart - Real Piano

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Rhythm & Scales

Learn to play rock and roll! Learn the pentatonic scale and get ideas on rhythm! Learn how you can accompany a soloist!

Teacher Resources

This lesson is about the pentatonic scale, playing a rhythm role and ideas on rhythm. The pentatonic scale is a common scale most typically used in rock and roll and blues. Learning its notes allows the students to play cool-sounding solos.

A rhythm role simply means that one student plays the rhythmic chord accompaniment while the other solos. Using the chord bank makes this easy and fun!

As for the rhythm, the minigames (magic keys and magic tiles) will provide good examples on how to vary the rhythm as the students play.

  • Theory: This lesson introduces your students to the concept of pentatonic scales.
  • Play: The students get to practice being a rhythm player and soloist.
  • Share & Discuss: The tasks focus on playing in groups and mastering the pentatonic scale.

What is a Scale?

In music theory, a scale is any set of musical notes ordered by fundamental frequency or pitch.

Teacher Resources

In other words: the scale we will be using today is a collection of notes that sound really good when played with certain chords. The chords that we will use (Am, Dm, Em) are all chords that use notes from the a minor pentatonic scale. The following slides will provide explicit instructions on how the A minor scale and A minor pentatonic scale work.

A Minor Scale

A minor scale.

Teacher Resources

To play the a minor scale, simply play all the white notes. Here, one octave (the interval which occurs when you go from the same note to its next higher or lower version) contains all the notes of the a minor scale: A, B, C, D, E, F and G. It’s a good idea to let the students try this out before progressing.

Note: You don’t need to play just these notes (A3 to A4). All white keys are part of the a minor scale, because the same keys repeat endlessly.

A Minor Pentatonic Scale

A minor pentatonic scale.

Teacher Resources

The a minor pentatonic has two differences when compared to the a minor scale: never play the B and F keys. This gives the scale a nice, bluesy sound. You can play all other white keys, but the second and sixth keys are not used when playing in the pentatonic scale. Let the students try this out before progressing.



Now’s the time to try out the two minigames (magic keys and magic tiles). The students can choose whichever songs they wish, but remind them to pay attention to the rhythm while they play. It’s a good source of ideas for later in the lesson! It’s a good idea to spend roughly 10 minutes playing these minigames.

Gismart gameplay.

Playing Rhythm & Solo

Playing a rhythm accompaniment means you play chords while another student plays solos with the a minor pentatonic scale. You can use the chord bank if you can’t remember how to play the chords. Switch roles after some time so everyone gets to try both soloing and rhythm playing.

Playing a solo means that you play notes from a scale - in this case the A minor pentatonic scale - with a good rhythm and nice melody. The soloist’s only rules are that they must follow along the scale as they play their solos.

Soloing and rhythm playing.

Now the students spend the rest of the class playing both the solo and rhythm accompaniment roles. After there’s roughly five minutes remaining of the class, move to the next slide for sharing and discussing this experience. For your convenience, below are some tips for this task:

  • The solo players should focus on rhythm and getting the scale right. Soloists can use multiple keys at the same time when they are playing, but it’s not essential as it can be quite difficult.
  • The rhythm accompaniment player can use the chord bank to find the chords Am, Dm and Em, and even constantly use the bank if the assignment is too difficult. A good way to accompany the soloist is by playing the Am chord for some time, then Dm, then Em, and then starting from the beginning. There however is no wrong way to play these chords together, so the student can play these three chords however they please. If they have a lot of difficulty, they can play the same chord for some time.
  • Remember to switch the role! Everyone needs to learn both soloing and rhythmic playing.
  • Circle around the classroom and help students who may have trouble.

Share & Discuss

Share & Discuss

  • Which do you enjoy more - being a soloist or rhythm accompanist? Why?
  • Can you name any bands with a solo and rhythm guitarist? There are many!
Show Notes

Aerosmith, Metallica, Judas Priest, Pearl Jam, Guns 'n' Roses, AC/DC, Rolling Stones