Online Modules

Breaking Loose | The PTR Alliance | Freescaling I | Freescaling II | The Pentascale Playground | Mission: Composition Songbook | Coming Soon

Module 1

Breaking Loose screenshotBreaking Loose

12 play-along tracks (All Keys)
Everyone starts here. Breaking Loose introduces you to the tools and techniques used in all the rest of the Freescaling curriculum, including the backing tracks and the unique Rhythmetrics program (otherwise known as the Amazing Idea Generator).

Who’s it for?
Anyone who wants to enter the Freescaling universe and enhance their relationship with music-making. Students begin by listening—not reading—to learn a melody by ear. Along the way, they find themselves figuring out the chords, exploring rhythmic possibilities, improvising a new melody over a backing track, and transposing the song to a new Key. Elements of music theory come up naturally as students progress; aspects of melody, harmony, rhythm, and form begin to sprout and grow in the player’s consciousness.

How do we use it?
Teachers can assign Breaking Loose as a home study project; the self-teaching set of audios are set up in such a way to guarantee student success, learning, and fun. Teachers may also decide to assume the teach-by-ear role themselves so as to enjoy the multiple opportunities for student-teacher music theory conversations.

We strongly recommend that teachers experience Breaking Loose before leading their students through it.

What other materials do I need?
A piano or keyboard, an internet connection, and a handy computer, tablet, or phone. Freescaling online modules provide everything else at your fingertips.

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Module 2

Pentascale-Tetrachord-Rhythmetrics Alliance screenshotThe Pentascale-Tetrachord-Rhythmetrics Alliance

48 play-along tracks (All Keys)

The next step after Breaking Loose. This is a very easy-to-use, practical platform for students to practice improvising!

Wait—improvising? I don’t really improvise. How can I possibly teach it?
Improvising — it sounds cool and looks like great fun. But where do musical ideas come from, especially for new piano players? That’s the beauty of the PTR Alliance. Even if you and your students have never improvised before, PTR is a structure for producing new ideas to play with right from your very first session. Also, PTR is ideal for students who might not be ready for the finger/thumb crossover of the full scale. All student exploring happens with two hands working as a 10-finger unit, using pentascales, tetrachords, and the unlimited rhythmic possibilities made available in Rhythmetrics, with its nearly 100 one-measure rhythms to explore and combine.

You and your students will select, decipher, and then experiment with rhythms and rhythmic combinations, playing along with the tracks. The objective is not to memorize and catalog a long list of improvised phrases. Rather, it’s a case of listening to what’s going on and evaluating experiments—and then doing it again! As always, it’s a case of play to learn.

The PTR Alliance works for all levels of players and improvisers, from beginners to advanced. Somewhat to their own surprise, even experienced improvisers find interesting combinations in Rhythmetrics that generate fresh ideas as they try out various rhythmic and melodic possibilities.

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Module 3

Freescaling I screenshotFreescaling I

100+ play-along tracks (Keys of C, G, D, A, F, Bb)

Few students find themselves motivated to practice scales. That’s not surprising: students don’t understand the multiple payoffs that come with scale practice, and there’s not much inherent fun in the process of travelling, mindlessly, up and down the keyboard.

Freescaling is a great way to get to know the keyboard better. I’ve been playing piano for more than 60 years, and freescaling in different Keys has even improved my facility.

Freescaling makes scales fun AND productive. First, the hundreds of accompaniment tracks are fun to play along with. The tracks are orchestrated so any combination of scale notes will sound musically palatable. Students can freescale: experiment with notes-of-the-scale combinations. This means there are no “mistakes”—a liberating environment for students to dig into possibilities.

The backing tracks also mean that students are moving beyond notes and melody to chords and harmony. There are seven triads and seven 7th chords embedded in every Major scale. Developing this keyboard perspective is enormously empowering to any and all students, whatever their level of music-making experience. Broken chords and arpeggios are fundamental tools in the classical realm as well as in the world of improvising.

How about rhythm?
Rhythmetrics (pronounced “rhyth-i-met-rics”), introduced in Breaking Loose and employed in the PTR Alliance, adds rhythmic experimentation to the freescaling process. Students can utilize these rhythms singly or in combination. Experimenting with rhythms breathes life into the “scalesongs” the student is creating in practice sessions, encouraging longer sessions and more time with student fingers actually on the keys.

Freescaling also includes other exercises and possibilities, including Hanon exercises, Modes, Rhythm Scales, Displacing Eighth-Note Scales, and further TIPs (Theory Into Practice) for deeper learning. All these exercises are available at the click of a mouse and can be played with any of the freescaling tracks (80 – 158 bpm).

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Module 4

Freescaling II screenshotFreescaling II

100+ play-along tracks (Keys of Eb, Ab, Db, F#, B, E)

Freescaling II continues the journey in the remaining six Keys. Covers various aspects of melody, harmony, and rhythm, helping students gain facility in their minds as well as their fingers, and introducing the basics of music theory in an intuitive and natural progression.

The TIPs you explored in Module 3 are appropriate for Module 4, as well. You’ll enjoy exploring these “sharp” and “flat” keys — great for learning to accompany other instruments, by the way.

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Module 5

Pentascale Playground screenshotThe Pentascale Playground

26 play-along tracks (All Keys)

Many teachers introduce their young students to scales by beginning with pentascales. They also feel that pentascales present excellent teaching vehicles for body and hand position & for relaxation at the piano.

The Pentascale Playground adds a new dimension and special flavor to this practice by having students “jam with the band” to a unique set of play-along tracks (both straight and swing) that are designed specifically for the various methodologies of pentascale practice most utilized by teachers: Chromatic, White keys/Black keys, and Circle of Fifths.

This module offers a fun and effective supplement to the flow of the main Freescaling modules. Any teachers who enjoy using pentascales with their students, or who think they might want to give it a try, will want to take a look at the Pentascale Playground.

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Module 7

Mission: CompositionMission: Composition — Songbook I

The Mission: Composition songbook is really two programs in one. You can use the book as-is, with plenty of well-crafted songs for enhancing your practice and impressing your friends. Or, if you’re in the mood, you can also blast off into the world of songwriting, creating new right-hand melodies to go over the existing left-hand chords. It’s great fun.

Of course, the work—that is, the play—you’re doing in the other Freescaling modules can help you generate all kinds of ideas here.

You can read a bit more about the songbook (and hear some song samples) here.

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Coming Soon

Module 6: Goofin’ With the Blues (featuring “Riffs & Rhythms”)

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