Scale Improvisation

Students will choose a scale type, such as major, minor, mixolydian, or the pentatonic set (major or minor). After performing the scale/set, the student will improvise a melody that uses the same scale/set. The scale and ensuing improvisation should be audio recorded for later scoring. The teacher will prepare a list of students to tell them the order in which they will perform.

This item has been voluntarily field-tested by Michigan teachers with a non-representative sample of students.

This is an analytic rubric. The column on the left shows the dimension that is being measured in the student’s performance. The levels across the top row indicate the performance level in the dimensions. Occasionally all dimensions and performance levels are exemplified by multiple students in a single recording.


  • Dimension
  • Scale Pitch Accuracy and Fluency

  • Improvisation: Tonal Cohesion

  • Improvisation: Creativity

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • Improvisation is boring. It lacks tonal and rhythmic interest.

    N/A at this time.
  • Improvisation has moments of tonal and rhythmic interest, but these are few and are not sustained.

    N/A at this time.
  • Improvisation often is tonally and rhythmically interesting, but this interest is not sustained throughout.

    N/A at this time.
  • Improvisation is tonally and rhythmically interesting throughout.

    N/A at this time.
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