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#1992703 - 11/30/12 07:36 AM scale regimin  
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maduro Offline
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Hello all I hope I am putting this in the right forum

I have question about how to address my scale practice.

I am returning to the piano I never left for long but I haven't really done a real scale study in a while.

the last two teachers I had had completely different methods but both seemed to get good results

the first was victor simonson
and he had me play the scales legato fingers riding the keys
extremely slow about 40bpm four octaves it was grueling
but my scales got very even and pretty sounding in about two months

the other was a graduate student at Aaron copland school of music in nyc

and she had me play the scales as fast as I could to a metronome
but she had me straighten my fingers as they hit the keys
almost like the fingers were standing on the keys.


after a while my scales got pretty good with her too.
]right now I cant afford to get a teacher perhaps down the line
but I am finding myself torn between these two methods

the legato approach seemed like it yielded phenomenal results
but the other method seemed pretty incredible too.
any thoughts?


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#1992713 - 11/30/12 08:31 AM Re: scale regimin [Re: maduro]  
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Wow. I took lessons at around age 40 for a couple years as a returning adult player, then picked up again a dozen years later. Neither of those teachers had me playing scales at all, though I have played some on my own.

None of the books that I have discuss technique at all for scales, other than fingering recommendations.

That second method sounds pretty bizarre and I have a hard time understand how this is helpful.

I'll be interested to see how teachers respond.


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#1992732 - 11/30/12 09:34 AM Re: scale regimin [Re: maduro]  
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I don't understand how the 2nd method could be efficient at all. Really, scales are good to practice but they will only get you so far. Without knowing where you are in your level of playing, it's hard to say what you should be doing now - we have no idea what you need to learn from practicing scales.

Last edited by Morodiene; 11/30/12 09:34 AM.

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#1992733 - 11/30/12 09:35 AM Re: scale regimin [Re: maduro]  
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TimR Offline
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Find out the rules for the next scales competition you plan to enter and decide based on that.

Which is a smart alecky way of suggesting you take a step back and think about what you plan to gain from scale practice. That should drive how you practice them and what percentage of your time you put into them.

And what you intend to gain from scales should follow from what your overall goals for practicing piano are. Since you don't have a teacher you need to think through this yourself.

If you don't, I suspect you will do a large amount of scales practice that may not really improve the rest of your playing. And you may not care, and that's okay. It all depends on your personal goals.

I'm putting a lot of my practice time into scales right now but I'm doing it for a very specific purpose identified in my last lesson.


gotta go practice
#1992750 - 11/30/12 10:44 AM Re: scale regimin [Re: maduro]  
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ten left thumbs Offline
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What was the rationale for the straight-fingered approach?

Two main learning points from scales:
1) technique, including the discipline of using the required finger, although the benefit is not always obvious, and of course, legato. Also evenness and control.
2) theory, so you instinctively reach for an F# while in G.

#1992789 - 11/30/12 12:31 PM Re: scale regimin [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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TimR Offline
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Originally Posted by ten left thumbs
[/quote]

Two main learning points from scales:
1) technique,


Technique, like maybe proper weight, rotation, wrist movement, push and pull, etc.? The OP does not have a teacher. Scales are a good place to practice technique without the distractions of music, but do not inherently teach any. I'm not so sure hours of playing scales will have any benefit at all, unless they are hours spent purposefully trying to improve something.


Quote
including the discipline of using the required finger, although the benefit is not always obvious,

Not obvious at all, since the fingering for scales is so easy, and transfers so little to most repertoire. Schiff was just on NPR talking about Bach, and mentioned avoiding scales and technical exercises. But again it goes back to goals: a Bach specialist has different needs than a jazz player.
Quote
and of course, legato. Also evenness and control.

Yes! Even for the beginner, even without a teacher. But if that is the purpose, it will affect how you practice. Your scales will be HS and slow, while intently listening.

Quote
2) theory, so you instinctively reach for an F# while in G.
That should be a given relatively early, not a reason to continue scales practice beyond imprinting the basic WWHWWWH pattern.

Last edited by TimR; 11/30/12 12:35 PM.

gotta go practice
#1992927 - 11/30/12 06:13 PM Re: scale regimin [Re: TimR]  
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I apologize I neglected to tell you all my deal.

I am a church piano player who just landed a job in a lutheran church
I want to get my scales faster and cleaner so I can insert runs between passages
classical musicians forget that bach and all the wig dudes
improvised and like jazz musicians used chord charts called figured bass
scales and runs and thirds and trills were all used as licks and fills
to embellish a piece
in church we still do a lot of embellishment and improv
I am no master musician
but below is a link of a simple hymn where
little ornaments were attempted and a key change with a scalar passage used as a lead into measure one

like those measures where there is a half rest and I can put something in there like a little trill or a quick two octave scalar run.

or even to use as an ending.

I often will insert a mixolydian run when I am on a V chord in place of the five chord I will insert a mixolydian run there

or if I am doing a ii v i I may do a descending dorian run ending on the tonic two octaves down

so getting a cleaner more even scale will be great.
I am in no hurry I realize that given enough time I will get there
I was just wondering about which approach will yield the most pristine scale work


I find that scale practice also allows me to flow better when playing melodically
because my fingers are not all stiff.

I dont read a lot of classical or real piano literature my reading tends to be mostly hymnals
so I have to make up my own little variations

I do try to tackle some piano literature from time to time. simple hymn from hymnn book with some basic embellishments

Last edited by maduro; 11/30/12 06:40 PM.
#1993080 - 12/01/12 06:40 AM Re: scale regimin [Re: maduro]  
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I have figured out half of the puzzle I was watching a video on youtube a few hours ago and a guy was discussing the first technique I mentioned
the legato scale where there is a deliberate overlapping of notes one key is depressed
and then the next key released
a very consistent on off
and the duration is the same for every note that is where the evenness comes from.

hence the slowness.

The other approach of the scales I have seen it done by a young man in sam ash also I actually saw him do it first I had never before seen anyone stand their fingers on the keys like that . but apparently this may be a European or unique to a region in Europe because my teacher was Austrian
and the guy from Sam Ash his teacher was from Europe also.

I would re explain that the hands or wrists are held high enough that when the finger reaches THE BOTTOM of the keybed your finger is perfectly straight.

#1993155 - 12/01/12 12:05 PM Re: scale regimin [Re: maduro]  
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Originally Posted by maduro

I would re explain that the hands or wrists are held high enough that when the finger reaches THE BOTTOM of the keybed your finger is perfectly straight.


I've seen a video of Fazil Say playing Alla Turco with fingers vertical like that. I have no idea why. Our last church musician did that when he had to play standing up, but if he sat on the bench his hands looked like every other good classical player.

You have a lot of experience and some clear goals so my earlier comments mostly don't apply.

Maybe part of your problem is to transfer what you hear in your head to your playing, without the benefit of sheet music?


gotta go practice
#1993218 - 12/01/12 02:44 PM Re: scale regimin [Re: maduro]  
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ten left thumbs Offline
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You have good resources. I would forget the straight vertical fingers. You want to play scales for fill, etc, go ahead and practice scales in the keys you most commonly play in. A pentatonic scales makes a nice fill, so play tones 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 of the major scales (ie miss out 4 and 7). Arpeggios also make nice fills.

#1993229 - 12/01/12 03:06 PM Re: scale regimin [Re: maduro]  
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right on at pentatonics ten thumbs I seem to always forget to practice those.

and thanks also tim R
Not sure I have a problem transferring what I hear in my head.
I think I just want scales that sound like I am polished. to me my runs sound awkward

in comparison to a trained musician.

but thanks both of you for your encouragement



#1993401 - 12/01/12 10:23 PM Re: scale regimin [Re: maduro]  
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Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted by maduro
right on at pentatonics ten thumbs I seem to always forget to practice those.

and thanks also tim R
Not sure I have a problem transferring what I hear in my head.
I think I just want scales that sound like I am polished. to me my runs sound awkward

in comparison to a trained musician.

but thanks both of you for your encouragement




It's really hard to say if there's really anything that needs addressing, and how best to address it without hearing you. If you can post a youtube clip, that would be the best way you can get effective advice. Otherwise, anyone is just guessing that the problem you say you have is the problem you really have.


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#1993513 - 12/02/12 05:31 AM Re: scale regimin [Re: maduro]  
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At the bottom of my second post is a youtube link
of me playing a hymn

#1993524 - 12/02/12 06:28 AM Re: scale regimin [Re: maduro]  
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ten left thumbs Offline
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You need to sit about 6 inches lower.

#1993661 - 12/02/12 02:28 PM Re: scale regimin [Re: maduro]  
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Originally Posted by maduro
At the bottom of my second post is a youtube link
of me playing a hymn


Probably this is just me, and I'm going to feel really stupid when you explain it.

But.........you seem to be moving to you left when playing scales and arpeggios in an ascending direction.

On my piano the low notes are on the left. Is yours reversed?

Just a comment as a listener (I don't play that style). You're a little busy during the verses. Assuming congregational singing, nobody will hear that, but it can make it muddy. Your interludes are more interesting, but you could do more there and less on the verse. A lot of pianists in that style uses triplet patterns for their scales; the gospel players often do these triplets in octaves. There's a little more rubato than I like; that's a matter of taste, but if I were singing with you I'd be annoyed. Might want to do some metronome work and be sure you have control of your tempo.


gotta go practice
#1993666 - 12/02/12 02:33 PM Re: scale regimin [Re: TimR]  
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Originally Posted by TimR

Probably this is just me, and I'm going to feel really stupid when you explain it.

But.........you seem to be moving to you left when playing scales and arpeggios in an ascending direction.

On my piano the low notes are on the left. Is yours reversed?

I haven't seen the video but if that's what you're seeing there is a simple explanation. Recordings can come out "reversed" and there's a thing to toggle. In some Skype sessions my teacher will hold up his hand and ask "Which hand do you see?" and if I say "Right" then he knows it's not in "mirror" image. Isn't technology fun? laugh

#1994546 - 12/04/12 10:26 AM Re: scale regimin [Re: TimR]  
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when playing hymns I just play the melody.
so when you say I was busy during the verses. I am confused because I was simply playing the melody.

perhaps the occasional ornamentation. you felt was busy.

perhaps you are right.

what is rubato?




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