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Thread: Scales

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    Member Davzon's Avatar
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    Question Scales

    Hi all, hope all is well with everyone, just wondered what amount of time should be spent improving on scales, I have to admit I'm not so good with flat scales so should I just play them, or should I just play them a few times then moving through them in circle of fifth motion. C....G....D..etc.

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    Senior Member Kazaman's Avatar
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    It depends on how much time you have to spare. If your practice time is limited, focus on what you find most difficult.
    Last edited by Kazaman; Apr-19-2013 at 17:17.

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    Member Davzon's Avatar
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    Just want to get better with each day, I practice alot, but mainly chords, I do normally just play all the many scales but there's alot of them. most of them are just common sense. cause alot of my time is spent on music theory, but I find is level of playing is nowhere near my level of understanding of theory, it's almost like they aint complety connected, my mind knows it but my hands don't seem to want to do it, if that makes sense.

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    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davzon View Post
    Just want to get better with each day, I practice a lot, but mainly chords, I do normally just play all the many scales but there's alot of them. most of them are just common sense. cause a lot of my time is spent on music theory, but I find is level of playing is nowhere near my level of understanding of theory, it's almost like they ain't completely connected, my mind knows it but my hands don't seem to want to do it, if that makes sense.
    Certainly does! I know the feeling only too well. Scales are useful for a variety of reasons - the first one is that they educate the fingers. As you say, you know the theory now you need to put in the hours to translate that into the finger muscles.

    The next thing is that they are good exercise for the fingers. The next thing is that they are fairly mindless. After a bit you don't need music so you can concentrate totally on dynamics and articulation.

    My scales book gives the following suggestions:

    . with hands separately as well as together
    . in similar motion, two octaves apart
    . with hands a fourth, fifth, seventh or ninth apart
    . beginning on the highest note, descending and ascending
    . beginning on any degree of the scale
    . with hands crossed, either right over left or left over right
    . in similar motion over three octaves, with notes grouped in threes
    . in similar motion over four octaves, with notes grouped in fours
    . with varied rhythmical groupings
    . with swung rhythm
    . in double thirds as broken thirds, in sixths as broken sixths etc.
    . at various speeds with and without a metronome
    . with varied dynamics
    . with varied touch, such as staccato, legato, non legato and leggiero
    . with mixed articulation
    . with melodic minors in contrary motion

    (Ruth Gerald intro to ABRSM Scales Manual)

    The point is not to play scales mechanically but to play them musically and that will teach your fingers (and your mind and ears) a great deal.

    Hope that helps.
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Of course concentrate on the ones which are for you less familiar / secure... or the ones you find are less often presented in the repertoire you are covering.

    Taggert, in the post immediately above, has presented a replete list of practice approaches to keep both mind alert and musicality present.

    Of course, whatever key / key areas any piece you are working on is always good :-)

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    Member Davzon's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone, I'll try everything to be honest half of the ideas never even entered my mind to do, so I can do all the stuff explained on the keys I find hard to do. mainly Eb major the only thing that bothers me is why do you have to start off on the second finger, why not just start off on the third being as, that's the one you use the when you come to the octave. I guess it's rather like The Db scale which can be said to be C sharp too which of cause are both right. anyway thanks

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    Senior Member Kazaman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davzon View Post
    Thanks everyone, I'll try everything to be honest half of the ideas never even entered my mind to do, so I can do all the stuff explained on the keys I find hard to do. mainly Eb major the only thing that bothers me is why do you have to start off on the second finger, why not just start off on the third being as, that's the one you use the when you come to the octave. I guess it's rather like The Db scale which can be said to be C sharp too which of cause are both right. anyway thanks
    You can start on the third finger if you wish, it's often taught both ways. I think you'll find the thumb tuck is easier with the second finger, though.

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    Member Davzon's Avatar
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    ya, I did think it would but it keeps confusing me cause in my mind I'm thinking eb with third and Bb with the fourth but I guess the scales aren't apart of me yet, cause I have to be able to play them the same as breathing. without even having to think about them.

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    ...mainly Eb major the only thing that bothers me is why do you have to start off on the second finger, why not just start off on the third being as, that's the one you use the when you come to the octave.
    If you want consistent logic, then use this rule:

    In a black-key scale, if the second note is played by 1 (the thumb), start with finger 2 (index).

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    Senior Member Kazaman's Avatar
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    For fingering, focus on finger 4. You'll notice that in every scale, it is used only once per octave. Memorise the scale degree which uses finger 4 in each key, and you'll have a shortcut for remembering the fingering pattern for each scale.

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    I think a good overall logic is that scale fingerings are designed to avoid placing the thumb on black keys.

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    Senior Member hreichgott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davzon View Post
    my mind knows it but my hands don't seem to want to do it
    Try scales, chords and arpeggios in only one key per day, many repetitions, maybe 5-10 minutes a day. Or maybe even one key per week at 5-10 minutes per day. Your hands will learn the patterns if you repeat the same ones in a focused way.
    Heather W. Reichgott, piano
    http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

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    Member Davzon's Avatar
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    Well I've been doing some of the things said on here, and it really makes a difference. The picking a key a day is far better too, cause to be honest there are far too many keys to give any one of them a good practice.. so is that book Ruth Gerald intro to ABRSM Scales Manual, worth getting.

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    Senior Member Ravndal's Avatar
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    If you are serious about it, i would suggest listen to hreichgott, but rather do it in two different keys everyday. That way you get trough the circle of fifth one time each week. Then it won't be long before you have them all memorized.

    Monday: C Major/A Minor, both harmonic and melodic. Chords & Arpeggios.
    Tuesday: G Major/E Minor, both harmonic and melodic. Chords & Arpeggios.

    And so on every day.
    Last edited by Ravndal; Apr-24-2013 at 22:08.
    "That as s."

    - Mark Twain

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    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
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    I recommend it because I'm doing ABRSM exams.

    See the book on Amazon which also recommends this one. Maybe some of the piano teachers on the site can referee this.
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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