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Keys, scales, arpeggios and common sense
#2419510 05/11/15 11:51 PM
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I have a hard time accepting the idea that there is NOT a method for practicing scales, arpeggios and chords that makes actual sense, and by that I mean:

Say you are going to practice a particular key: C.

First you practice the main chords: C,F,G - Great !
Second you practice the scale up and down - Great !
Third you practice the arpeggios up and down - Great !

What's missing ?, a real life example to use that!, playing something like "scales and arpeggios (aristocats)" in that key, so that you can have a real life example for changing chords and combining the scale with chords in a song!

In my mind this has to exist!, how is it possible that such thing is not part of the daily practice ?

Please tell me I am wrong and send me the link to the PDF !

Thanks!

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Re: Keys, scales, arpeggios and common sense
Jose Hidalgo #2419530 05/12/15 01:43 AM
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I think you are right. I use the RCM program in North America. For technical exercises in level 6, currently I'm working on G major and G minor. Like you already mentioned, scales, chords, arpeggios and their inversions, also dominate 7th and diminished 7th broken and blocked chords and arpeggios for G maj/min. For studies I am learning a technical etudes in G major. For repertoire I am learning a Bach-Stolzel Minuet in G minor and Sonata in G major by Rosetti. As you could imagine, I think after doing that everyday for weeks on end, I would know G major and G minor pretty well, and I do. Funny how that works out.

Re: Keys, scales, arpeggios and common sense
Jose Hidalgo #2419566 05/12/15 05:33 AM
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This question in mind numbing... I think you are overthinking the issue. Scales do make sense in practice by themselves if you know what to listen to and which kind of speed, clarity and control you are looking for.
usually you practice the major, with the two relative minors. at an interval of an octave, a sixth and a third.
parallel motion, contrary motion and mixed motion.
you have hundreds of exercises and thousands of variations to practice and isolate any possible technical skill in a scale.

if you put everything in a comprehensive method, you will only practice scales in your daily routine... this is where a teacher is able to isolate your issues and drive your practice in the right direction.

any mozart concerto or sonata, haydn concerto or sonata, beethoven concerto and sonata has scales, and arpeggios, and modulations... go to imlsp and download the pdfs.

maybe, you need to expand your musical horizons "a little bit" and listen properly to the masters...

Re: Keys, scales, arpeggios and common sense
Jose Hidalgo #2419616 05/12/15 08:41 AM
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You seem to be coming from it backwards, Jose. The existing methods make sense but not if you're using them to learn to play in a key.

The idea is not to practise a key by covering its scales, chords and arpeggios but to practise scales, chords and arpeggios is a variety of keys.

We need to practise pieces in the specific and technique in the general. Scales and arpeggios are for general technique.

The best way to learn a key is to play a variety of pieces in a variety of styles in that key. In pop and rock you may be restricted to one key per piece but in classical music you'll use several keys for any significant piece.

We use a few basic mechanisms to move around the keyboard, unlike the wind player whose hands are held in pretty much the same place. We use successive fingers, leaps, stretches and pivoting with or around the thumb. The invention of the piano didn't just offer the ability to play loud and soft, it also conferred on the player the obligation to control the dynamics when using these basic mechanisms. Organ and harpsichord players didn't need such refinement or precision but pianists need to practise these demanding skills.

It is for this reason we need to practise scales and arpeggios, learning to move the arms rather than the hands, controlling arm weight through the fingers, transferring weight from one finger to the next instead of just activating the fingers successively, turning the thumb under smoothly and evenly up and down the keyboard, controlling the accents, the dynamics, the articulation and (with the development of greater sustain) key release, building velocity, etc.

You may use a variety of keys (tonalities) for different configurations of black/white piano-keys but scales are not about learning those keys (tonalities).

So pick a piece and find ITS main chords (and chord changes), ITS scalar passages, ITS leaps, ITS stretches, ITS cadences, etc, then practise those or do scales, chords and arpeggios in a variety of keys as a separate discipline.

Does that make sense?



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Re: Keys, scales, arpeggios and common sense
Jose Hidalgo #2419628 05/12/15 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Jose Hidalgo
What's missing ?

Context. Like using words in a sentence. Using sentences to tell a story.
Quote
a real life example to use that!

It's called a song. Namely a three chord song in the key of C. Maybe like Danny Boy, or Old Langsyne.
But if you have a teacher, and are if you're using a method book, have patience. Understand they are laying a solid foundation, just like you would for a large building. You would not put a roof on a foundation. You build things in order.


nada
Re: Keys, scales, arpeggios and common sense
Jose Hidalgo #2419926 05/13/15 01:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Jose Hidalgo
What's missing ?

We are only supposed to practice scales, arpeggios and all that technical things in order to improve flexibility and accuracy in general. Also, scales and arpeggios seem to be important if you aim to play classical pieces. I would focus on jazz chord progression if you fancy playing jazz instead.

Scales, arpeggios or and any other exercise, all this is to help in approaching difficult pieces in the future without extra technical exercises. Later, we are supposed to learn to play a piece mainly considering individual phrasing, transitions, modulations etc. without having to step aside and catching up with technical aspect of a piece like sequences.


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Re: Keys, scales, arpeggios and common sense
Jose Hidalgo #2419930 05/13/15 01:59 AM
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[video:youtube]TSne-YgBJeQ[/video]
[video:youtube]fv6CLiWY-nM[/video]

Last edited by johan d; 05/13/15 02:23 AM.
Re: Keys, scales, arpeggios and common sense
johan d #2419992 05/13/15 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by johan d

[video:youtube]fv6CLiWY-nM[/video]

This! thumb

As a classical pianist, I've always taken it for granted that anything I can do on the piano keyboard with my RH, I can with my LH - equally well.

It wasn't until I met a guy who played jazz (having switched to it very early on, from classical) that I realized that many pianists can't. Because they got into the habit of playing RH runs/riffs with LH chords, and never do it the other way round (RH chords and LH runs). So, their LH is good only for chords and hardly anything else....

And because they don't practice scales & arpeggios in both hands.

Here's a kid playing a nursery tune wink who knows how to use both hands equally well: http://youtu.be/Ezvj-De6bxY


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Keys, scales, arpeggios and common sense
bennevis #2420001 05/13/15 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis

Here's a kid playing a nursery tune wink who knows how to use both hands equally well: http://youtu.be/Ezvj-De6bxY


Nice video....but I can't think of twinkle twinkle little star without thinking of this video



Apologies for the threadjack, now back on topic.... smile


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Re: Keys, scales, arpeggios and common sense
bennevis #2420026 05/13/15 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis

...
As a classical pianist, I've always taken it for granted that anything I can do on the piano keyboard with my RH, I can with my LH - equally well.


Rarely are the requirements for the LH as robust as what is required of the RH. They both have a role of course, but the roles are usually quite different.

There is a reason that most of the time the runs occur with the RH while the less active LH provides the underlying support for it.

Originally Posted by bennevis

...
So, their LH is good only for chords and hardly anything else....

And because they don't practice scales & arpeggios in both hands.


This is a broad assumption. Not everyone that neglects to practice scales and arpeggios will be in this boat. They may achieve it by playing more repertoire like twinkle twinkle little star, that requires it. Also not everyone that practices in this way is necessarily going to be any better with their LH to the point that it is equal in all areas of technical ability to the right.

I am not saying that scale and arpeggio practice will not help you with this. Just that it is not the only way to achieve it.


Re: Keys, scales, arpeggios and common sense
Jose Hidalgo #2420059 05/13/15 11:21 AM
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For me the most common sense advice I've heard is "Play your scales & arpeggios musically, if you're practicing them mindlessly, you might as well stop and just focus on repertoire.". But I had to get over the initial hurdle of just playing them mindlessly from memory and start applying the musicality you find in typical sheet music, especially classical music. I figured out some of it myself, and my teacher has been very busy filling in the rest.

As a result my daily practice of scales & arpeggios has been very rewarding. The main thing I get out of playing them musically is a sense of control over technique. It shows when I play a new piece or improvise, I can adapt more quickly and I have more confidence with my playing.


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And we are the dreamers of dreams.
Re: Keys, scales, arpeggios and common sense
Groove On #2420064 05/13/15 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Groove On
For me the most common sense advice I've heard is "Play your scales & arpeggios musically, if you're practicing them mindlessly, you might as well stop and just focus on repertoire.". But I had to get over the initial hurdle of just playing them mindlessly from memory and start applying the musicality you find in typical sheet music, especially classical music. I figured out some of it myself, and my teacher has been very busy filling in the rest.

As a result my daily practice of scales & arpeggios has been very rewarding. The main thing I get out of playing them musically is a sense of control over technique. It shows when I play a new piece or improvise, I can adapt more quickly and I have more confidence with my playing.


Excellent post.

I cannot understand the rationale of playing or practicing anything unmusically. When people say something is "boring", and are playing it "mindlessly", my advice is go do something else...play a video game or something...because the "boring" and "mindlessness" will in some way be incorporated into your music.

However, if you "put the music" into everything you do, be it scales, arpeggios, chords, technique exercises such as Hanon, Czerny, Joseffy, et at, then you will reap the benefits such as you describe.

Your music will be full of life, full of the magic "X" factor that makes one performer interesting to listen to, while the music of another has all the right notes, tempo, dynamics, etc, yet is missing something intangible, and comes off as, well, boring.

You do get what you practice.


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Re: Keys, scales, arpeggios and common sense
Greener #2420070 05/13/15 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Greener
Originally Posted by bennevis

...
As a classical pianist, I've always taken it for granted that anything I can do on the piano keyboard with my RH, I can with my LH - equally well.


Rarely are the requirements for the LH as robust as what is required of the RH. They both have a role of course, but the roles are usually quite different.

There is a reason that most of the time the runs occur with the RH while the less active LH provides the underlying support for it.



Support like this?

http://youtu.be/Mk1JQk90UbY
http://youtu.be/GDtWXuXOa74

In classical music, even when the the LH is 'merely' providing the "underlying support" for the RH, its part is just as difficult - or even more so, as in the two pieces above - and in the Mozart video I posted earlier.

In a lot of music - and I'm not even talking about Bach - the melody also gets tossed between RH and LH, while the accompaniment also gets tossed around. If you don't have a LH as 'strong' and agile as RH, you're going to come unstuck in a lot of classical pieces.

Let me reiterate - if you're serious about playing classical music, your LH needs to be as good as your RH.

In other words, if classical music is what you want to focus on, you need to develop both hands equally - right from the start.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Keys, scales, arpeggios and common sense
bennevis #2420078 05/13/15 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis

It wasn't until I met a guy who played jazz (having switched to it very early on, from classical) that I realized that many pianists can't. Because they got into the habit of playing RH runs/riffs with LH chords, and never do it the other way round (RH chords and LH runs). So, their LH is good only for chords and hardly anything else....

And because they don't practice scales & arpeggios in both hands.


Scales & arpeggios are great for developing both hands.

Also, most if not all technique method books have exercises that are equal or equivalent for both hands, the goal to develop both hands to the same ability and level.

Pischna, Joseffy, Liszt, Hanon come to mind.

Those exercises can be a good addition to scales & arpeggios.


Piano teacher.
Re: Keys, scales, arpeggios and common sense
bennevis #2420093 05/13/15 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis

Support like this?

http://youtu.be/Mk1JQk90UbY
http://youtu.be/GDtWXuXOa74

In classical music, even when the the LH is 'merely' providing the "underlying support" for the RH, its part is just as difficult - or even more so, as in the two pieces above - and in the Mozart video I posted earlier.


If your desire is to play at this level then there are no short cuts. All exercise regimens are game and should be taken seriously. Even then, very few will make it to this level.

No kidding the LH can be hard or harder than the right. My last Schumann piece was all LH arpeggios while the RH had just an easy melody. A good practice piece now. My short excerpt of the Symphony coming up for release on Friday for the May recital has a tremendously challenging LH (AND RH), but it is all about big chords and quick moving octaves and has nothing to do with scales and arpeggios.

So long as both hands are keeping up with each other, I'm not so concerned about extra tutoring and exercises for one. But I have no intention of playing the above works you posted either.

Originally Posted by rocket88

...
the goal to develop both hands to the same ability and level.
...


Originally Posted by bennevis

...
Let me reiterate - if you're serious about playing classical music, your LH needs to be as good as your RH.

In other words, if classical music is what you want to focus on, you need to develop both hands equally - right from the start.


I agree with both of these statements.

I do not agree that people that do not practice scales and arpeggios both hands will be doomed to have an inferior LH.


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