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with which to start scales?
#2399289 03/17/15 01:25 PM
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Every day I want to practice some scales.
With what shall I begin?
Advice please.

my level: beginner-average


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Re: with which to start scales?
ster100 #2399304 03/17/15 02:14 PM
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Have you exhausted the possibilities in Kuhlau, Op. 20 No.1, Bach Invention No. 4, etc?

Beginner-average is a bit premature for scales unless you're going for exams. Pieces in the first two or three years have little need for scales; you won't find any scale passages to speak of in the first part of Schumann's Album for the Young or in all of Tchaikovsky's similarly titled collection.

If you're starting scale practise per se, simply as a discipline, B major is the place to start but I'd have a couple of sonatinas in the bag first. There's no point learning to change gear if you're driving an automatic.



Richard
Re: with which to start scales?
zrtf90 #2399319 03/17/15 02:49 PM
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Sorry, I disagree. Most sonatinas are scale passages at the very least concurrently practicing scales are good. Scales have much to offer for uniform tempo and tone as soon as you are playing thumb under etc.

B maj lies under the fingers well. But C G D A E all have the same basic fingering giving you the advantage of learning several fairly quickly. One octave hands separate then together. Contrary motion is sometimes easier. Keep the sound even. Play both soft and loud.


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Re: with which to start scales?
ster100 #2399336 03/17/15 03:50 PM
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It's good that you disagree. We need to get more views out there. There sure ain't just the one!

G, D and A (and F) have different fingering in the left hand if you use ergonomic fingering and the '4th on Black' guideline.

Originally Posted by DragonPianoPlayer
Scales have much to offer for uniform tempo and tone as soon as you are playing thumb under etc.
That's good if that's what students do but if they just
Originally Posted by ster100
...want to practice some scales...
they tend to put the speed in before they bother with smooth and even.

Practising scale runs from sonatinas gives scale passages in a musical context. There are also likely to be examples of crossing over and under 2nd as much as 3rd or 4th making the skill more applicable.

Scales, as a discipline, encourages practising the mechanics without reference to the musicality and going for speed too soon, often before a well rounded technique has been acquired.

Scales do not confer technical skills, they exercise them once acquired.




Richard
Re: with which to start scales?
ster100 #2399412 03/17/15 07:13 PM
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Doing 2 octave scales, hand separates, progressively in all major and minor keys.
SLOW, taking care that the thumb seeks is landing position as soon as leaves the key, taking care that you stretch your thumb under the palm and don't use the elbow to help with the movement, putting a strong accent on each, every 2nd, 3rd and 4th note and using rhythmic variations striving for uniformity of the touch... play legato, staccato, super legato, tenuto e brillante... play all forte, all piano, one hand forte and the other piano... crescendo and diminuendo, in one hand, the opposite in the other...
play for contrary motion, play at a distance of a third and a sixth...

keep it slow and under control (did I say that?)

you can learn all the keys, all the harmonic and melodic minor scales, get comfortable with your touch on the black keys and with different kind of touches without having to thing too much about the notes once you know the patterns...
Than, later, once all these things are acquired and be a second nature to you... you can REALLY learn scales in their 4 octaves glory and at ludicrous speed... but not a minute before you already know all of them slow, in all keys.

Re: with which to start scales?
Ataru074 #2399415 03/17/15 07:26 PM
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^ This. Yes. Yes. There is so much to learn from playing scales, so many benefits, but do as described here. Only thing I would add is do one key signature at a time. Go through all the above exercises with one key signature, mastering everything before starting another. Don't ignore the suggested dynamics and rhythmic variations. You should be able to play with any articulation, super-legato, legato, non-legato, staccato, tenuto. They are really important and yield lots of benefits. As a technical exercise, you goal is perfection. That's why you must start slow. No one could play repertoire perfectly, or nearly no one, but you can play technical exercises perfectly if you put in the effort, and the result will improve your repertoire playing. It would be good to also include chords and arpeggios in the same key with your scales.

Re: with which to start scales?
ster100 #2399423 03/17/15 08:09 PM
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Is there some logic to the fingering of the scales where the fingering varies (the flats for instance)??


many hands many smiles

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Re: with which to start scales?
8 Octaves #2399424 03/17/15 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Ataru074
...
you can learn all the keys, all the harmonic and melodic minor scales, get comfortable with your touch on the black keys and with different kind of touches without having to thing too much about the notes once you know the patterns...


I have a strong desire to get to this point with repertoire. Not so with scales.

Originally Posted by 8 Octaves

...
They are really important and yield lots of benefits. As a technical exercise, you goal is perfection.


No offense intended, but to me they are boring and I would rather focus on content. If I were ever striving to perfect anything it would not be scales.





Re: with which to start scales?
Greener #2399434 03/17/15 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Greener
No offense intended, but to me they are boring and I would rather focus on content. If I were ever striving to perfect anything it would not be scales.


No offense taken. Traditional classical training does not appeal to everyone.

Re: with which to start scales?
ster100 #2399437 03/17/15 08:38 PM
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I thought you did them because you liked them.

I will never interfere with a structured learning curriculum. You are right though, it does not appeal to me.

Re: with which to start scales?
Greener #2399460 03/17/15 09:11 PM
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I'm not sure I could honestly say I like them. I'm not sure anyone really likes them. They are required part of my learning, so I did them by force in the beginning. However, having done them, and having seen the benefit they bring, I learned to focus on the point of doing them. As much as I must do them, I might as well do them well, or not at all. No one performs scales, not even for himself, so they are like doing sit-ups or push-ups, or running up and down steps. We could find a way to focus in on the activity, but enjoy? No.

If you were to ask me if I'd prefer push-ups / sit-ups or scales. I rather play scales.

Re: with which to start scales?
manyhands #2399473 03/17/15 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by manyhands
Is there some logic to the fingering of the scales where the fingering varies (the flats for instance)??
The idea is to facilitate passing the thumb under the fingers by raising the 4th finger on a black key. The 'natural' key (piano-key) for the 4th is Bb/A# (RH) and F#/Gb (LH).

As all the major and minor scales use the pattern 1-2-3-1-2-3-4 (with different starting and ending points and differing directions) it's clear that the 4th is only used once per octave (except at the extremities). Where it's used is the key (clue) to the fingering. Try using the 4th on each of the seven notes and you'll quickly discover the most comfortable configuration for each scale (and you can avoid having to purchase a scale manual).

There's only one comfortable configuration for each key except C major where all seven variations can be employed.



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Re: with which to start scales?
manyhands #2399474 03/17/15 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by manyhands
Is there some logic to the fingering of the scales where the fingering varies (the flats for instance)??


I think the logic is you do whatever works best. OK, that doesn't help. Scale books often having fingering printed out. Follow what works. When it doesn't work, I don't take it as some sort of dogma; always be ready to adapt to a different situation. When playing scales in repertoire even in the same key, none of the fingering would be exactly the same, so adapt as needed.

Re: with which to start scales?
8 Octaves #2399501 03/17/15 11:14 PM
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Originally Posted by 8 Octaves
I'm not sure I could honestly say I like them. I'm not sure anyone really likes them.


Well, here you go... I like scales, and quite a few of my students do, probably because I take the time, as did my teacher aeons ago, to explain their value as being the notes that are always available in the music of that key, and thus the foundation of that key, which is invaluable when playing music in that key; and also how scales facilitate the skill of moving the hand up and down the keyboard smoothly, (if done properly).

BTW, I do not introduce scales until a person is capable of fingering beyond the so called "five finger" position, and thus is able to actually finger a piece rather than just leave their hand in a static position.

Prior to using scales, I use Hanon to teach the hand to move up and down the keyboard, as Hanon does not require the fingering issues implicit with scales, yet can teach one to play to the ends of the keyboard if one so plays it, and Hanon is very easy to remember the fingering and the pattern.

Furthermore, I do not understand the concept that something at the piano that is either music, or something that will help one play music is somehow "boring".

The note sequences/patterns in Scales, Hanon movements, Czerny, et al. can be found quite easily throughout repertoire, so begs the question: Is a particular section of repertoire that includes a scale or a Hanonesque/Czerny phrase therefore "boring", and to be disliked or shunned when playing? Or do you simply have a need to be constantly entertained to the maximum when playing anything?

Instead, learn to "put the music" into everything you play, and you will become a much better player, because you will habitually play each note to its maximum musical value/feeling. In other words, its all good, IMHO.

BTW, the first phrase of the popular and beloved hymn "Joy To The World" is a basic Major scale, from top to bottom, and the remainder of the hymn is comprised primarily of sections of the same scale.

Boring? Unpleasant? Your call.


Piano teacher.
Re: with which to start scales?
ster100 #2399560 03/18/15 03:49 AM
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I love scales. I've been putting 10 minutes a day on them for a while now (during my third year at the piano). I don't go for speed, many times I don't even practice them hands together, not necessarily - I do it mainly for the theory behind them. I find it very useful to be able to quickly identify key signatures, chords, progressions. So I did my little set of scale + chords + arpeggio + cadences for every major and minor key, following the circle of fifths, and now I'm testing what I learned with flashcards, and it's fun. I think it's also very useful to get to know the keyboard better, so I wish I had started earlier. It's also super useful for sight-reading simple pieces, especially hymns.

Re: with which to start scales?
sinophilia #2399597 03/18/15 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by rocket88

...
so begs the question: Is a particular section of repertoire that includes a scale or a Hanonesque/Czerny phrase therefore "boring", and to be disliked or shunned when playing?


If the repertoire is based on a scale, I would not likely choose to learn it, as it already sounds like it will be too boring. Currently I am working on the most advanced material I have ever played in my life. My lack of scale training has not yet proven to be problematic.

If I were younger and keener and in a program that included them, I would do them. I am not.

Originally Posted by rocket88

Or do you simply have a need to be constantly entertained to the maximum when playing anything?


Maybe that is it.
Originally Posted by sinophilia
I love scales.
...
I find it very useful to be able to quickly identify key signatures, chords, progressions.
...


I see the value here and would agree with the use of them for this purpose, primarily.

Re: with which to start scales?
sinophilia #2399636 03/18/15 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by sinophilia
I love scales. I've been putting 10 minutes a day on them for a while now (during my third year at the piano). I don't go for speed, many times I don't even practice them hands together, not necessarily - I do it mainly for the theory behind them. I find it very useful to be able to quickly identify key signatures, chords, progressions. So I did my little set of scale + chords + arpeggio + cadences for every major and minor key, following the circle of fifths, and now I'm testing what I learned with flashcards, and it's fun. I think it's also very useful to get to know the keyboard better, so I wish I had started earlier. It's also super useful for sight-reading simple pieces, especially hymns.


+1. Yes I do something similar, about 10-15 minutes a day, though I'm too lazy to do the flashcards. smile I think it could be fun for theory learning, yes. I still don't love playing them especially chords with lots of black keys. By lots I mean even one. Broken chords legato hands together with black key in the middle, me not like. Benefits +100. laugh

Re: with which to start scales?
ster100 #2399685 03/18/15 01:14 PM
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OK, now I gotta ask..... what's up with all this hatred of black keys? What did they ever do to deserve it?

IMHO chords, broken or not, with black keys are easier to play than 'all whites'. Makes for a much more relaxed hand position most of the time. Scales, pretty much same scenario.


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Re: with which to start scales?
8 Octaves #2399688 03/18/15 01:19 PM
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I am another one that actually enjoys scales. It is a way to really focus on touch, arm weight, even posture. I do them hands separate, hands together, one hand staccato the other legato, one quiet one loud, etc. I really think it pays off. Demanding absolute accuracy and evenness of touch in scales really makes a difference. Going above the speed at which that can be accomplished I found counter-productive. As stated above, it takes patience and time to develop the skill.

I also have an iPad app called Scale Blitzer, that makes it almost like a game. It is meant for kids, but I have fun with it too! It tells you which scale to do, and how to do it, records it, and then has you rate how you did. Listening to the recording, you cannot fool yourself!

Re: with which to start scales?
Jytte #2399697 03/18/15 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Jytte
OK, now I gotta ask..... what's up with all this hatred of black keys? What did they ever do to deserve it?

IMHO chords, broken or not, with black keys are easier to play than 'all whites'. Makes for a much more relaxed hand position most of the time. Scales, pretty much same scenario.


The black keys make me work much harder, whether playing broken or blocked chords, my fifth finger tend to lose its curve because they are not strong enough, left hand fifth finger worse than right hand. I have to really work, shifting the weight of the hand, avoid pressing down, dropping instead, everything the teacher says. When playing quickly, I really feel how weak the fifth finger is, so I work and work at it, trying not to let the finger collapse and straighten out. I don't like black keys.

Also, this is a small point. I practice scale on my 25-year-old DP, which has very slippery black keys, so my fifth finger often slip off, but I cannot blame my DP. It is me. My teacher has the same plastic DP surface that she practices with at night, and she never complains. She think it's fine, though now that she has a new VPC1, she's already saying how her plastic keyboard is so... plastic. shocked

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