2017 was our 20th year online!

Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 3 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Shop our online store for music lovers
SEARCH
Piano Forums & Piano World
(ad)
Wessell Nickel & Gross
PianoForAll
(ad)
Best of Piano Buyer
 Best of Piano Buyer
(ad)
Faust Harrison Pianos
Faust Harrison 100+ Steinway pianos
Who's Online Now
35 members (clothearednincompo, EVC2017, CyberGene, Anglagard44, DPAfficionado, foxy.au, 10 invisible), 472 guests, and 440 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad)
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Hop To
Page 1 of 2 1 2
Trouble with scales.
#2451564 08/17/15 06:30 PM
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 13
H
Junior Member
OP Offline
Junior Member
H
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 13
For some purpose, I can't improve my scales no matter what different tricks I try. I've played them in rhythms, staccato, making sure my wrists are relaxed, and of course playing them very slowly. Now they are fine when I keep them at a slow tempo, but once I increase speed, they get sloppy and I constantly hit split notes with my thumbs or skip a note. Many times I can even hear my thumb accent the key when it crosses under.
I've been playing piano for three years and I find it a little discouraging when my scales haven't improved much since I started. Do you guys have any tips?

Re: Trouble with scales.
Halee Reddick #2451566 08/17/15 06:37 PM
Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 608
D
500 Post Club Member
Offline
500 Post Club Member
D
Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 608
yes, keep practicing smile


unlocked by keys
wordless poetry sings free
- piano music -
Re: Trouble with scales.
Halee Reddick #2451580 08/17/15 07:20 PM
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 1,375
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 1,375
What has your teacher suggested so far?

Last edited by backto_study_piano; 08/17/15 07:21 PM. Reason: forgot something

Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: Trouble with scales.
Halee Reddick #2451594 08/17/15 08:03 PM
Joined: Jun 2015
Posts: 347
D
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
D
Joined: Jun 2015
Posts: 347
I think you need someone qualified to look you over what you are doing in the scales. It may be something worth examining bc you may be drilling something bad into your scalework without even knowing about it.
Also just keep practicing, IF , you havent been consistent with scales. YOu cant improve much in 3 years even, if you have not been consistently diligent in doing scales regularly.


debussychopin.
Re: Trouble with scales.
Halee Reddick #2451602 08/17/15 08:24 PM
Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 816
500 Post Club Member
Offline
500 Post Club Member
Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 816
I'd suggest if you're not using a metronome and are trust trying to switch between 'slow' and 'fast' you might be asking too much. Try to set small quantifiable goals and measure against them (if you're not already).

Metronome at 75 bpm, C Major hands together two octaves on quarter notes. Practise every day for 1 week. Increase by 5 bpm next week.


Re: Trouble with scales.
backto_study_piano #2451606 08/17/15 08:31 PM
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 13
H
Junior Member
OP Offline
Junior Member
H
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 13
Originally Posted by backto_study_piano
What has your teacher suggested so far?


She actually never said anything about my scales when I would play them for her, even if I messed up a couple times and had to start over. I will be starting lessons in a couple weeks with a new teacher, so maybe he'll be able to give me advice.

Re: Trouble with scales.
Halee Reddick #2451722 08/18/15 07:34 AM
Joined: Feb 2014
Posts: 119
S
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
S
Joined: Feb 2014
Posts: 119
It's hard to say not seeing you play scales, but it could be a matter of too much motion, which can happen even when relaxed. I try to make all the movement happen in front of the wrist, with the rest of the arm relaxed and floating, and then make sure I play from the key (basically touching the note before playing, though this isn't what it feels like at faster speeds). Have patience and don't go faster than you can play perfectly. Enjoy the process.

Re: Trouble with scales.
Halee Reddick #2451751 08/18/15 09:25 AM
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 1,816
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 1,816
I second that my scales got more accurate and faster when I started moving the wrists as opposed to walking the arm with my fingers. Now my fingers play, but the wrist delivers them to the right place at the right time ... If that makes any sense.


We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams.
Re: Trouble with scales.
Halee Reddick #2451753 08/18/15 09:35 AM
Joined: Dec 2013
Posts: 77
L
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
L
Joined: Dec 2013
Posts: 77
Scales are actually pretty complicated physically, especially when playing legato. I can do all of my scales rapidly, but I have a tension problem that is quite visible and which may hamper me from doing leggierissimo scales presto. There are countless things that could be going wrong, and I really suggest that you go over this with a teacher.

Problems I've found in my own playing: a tendency to "pull" when depressing keys, which increases tension. Tension in passing the thumb under. Tension in shifting from thumb under to fingers 234 (like the note f with the thumb followed by gab in the C major scales).

If the problem is mainly a loud thumb, you can try repeating the thumb on a single note pianissimo. Then put it in C major first position, resting your fingers 2 and 3 on D and E. Repeat the thumb softly until you have complete control. Then pass the thumb under to F, still keeping 2 and 3 in place (if it is comfortable) and play the thumb softly on F. This is an adaptation of an exercise Liszt devised. If it is not comfortable, lift your third finger and cross the thumb under to E and play that note softly. After you get used to this, play C softly one time, cross it under to F (or E if you have small hands), back and forth, gradually picking up your pace but maintaining your soft tone, without sounding any of the held notes.

But there are really countless things that could be going on, from wrist rotation that makes your thumb dig in to the key more than the other fingers, to various sources of tension. It is best that you get the advice of your teacher. Scales are a gradual thing. While speed is impressive, it's just as impressive, if not more impressive, to have full control of your touch in a scale. Speed will come with greater familiarity, and you want to build speed upon a foundation of good mechanics and sense of touch.

Re: Trouble with scales.
Halee Reddick #2451822 08/18/15 12:39 PM
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 3,542
P
3000 Post Club Member
Offline
3000 Post Club Member
P
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 3,542
Show us a video of yourself playing, and we can help you.


Poetry is rhythm
Re: Trouble with scales.
Halee Reddick #2452096 08/19/15 12:21 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 24,473
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 24,473
Along with the other suggestions, particularly that of showing us a video of your scale playing, it may be that you are trying to go from slow, well-controlled scale playing to fast scales without working on the intervening steps and/or perhaps you are hoping for progress too soon.

As another has suggested, scales involve fairly complex movements (less complex when played in contrary motion) while one hand is going from the fifth finger towards the thumb and the other is going from the thumb towards the fifth finger and they both use thumb over/under at different moments.

Be patient and increase your tempo gradually, starting from a tempo that is so comfortable that you can play the scales flawlessly. Then gradually over time increase the tempo and work on each increase over several days until the increased tempo becomes as comfortable as the initial tempo. Don't move ahead with a faster tempo until the latest tempo feels absolutely comfortable and relaxed.

One way to control your tempo increases is to use metronome settings, and increase those settings only one "click" at a time.

Practice consistently and be patient.

P.S.
I don't always follow my own advice, as good as I think it might be, sometimes!


Regards,




BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190
Re: Trouble with scales.
Halee Reddick #2452154 08/19/15 03:41 PM
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,283
I
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
I
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,283
Originally Posted by Halee Reddick
Originally Posted by backto_study_piano
What has your teacher suggested so far?


She actually never said anything about my scales when I would play them for her, even if I messed up a couple times and had to start over. I will be starting lessons in a couple weeks with a new teacher, so maybe he'll be able to give me advice.


Sounds like a good move.

Re: Trouble with scales.
Halee Reddick #2452485 08/20/15 04:24 PM
Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 835
L
500 Post Club Member
Offline
500 Post Club Member
L
Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 835
Three years is a very short time. Keep playing the scales as instructed and you will be amazed at how you grow into them! They are important in so many ways! Start playing them slow as you do, and then slightly increase the speed using a metronome each time you play.... Good Luck to you! I have been paying over 50 years now!


Bösendorfer 170
Re: Trouble with scales.
Halee Reddick #2452571 08/20/15 11:19 PM
Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 4,765
O
4000 Post Club Member
Offline
4000 Post Club Member
O
Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 4,765
I found that for me the problem with scale speed was not only physical, but also mental. Just drilling them without actually "knowing" in my head what I am doing and why I am doing it (understanding the fingerings) didn't work for me at all. I cannot operate on muscle memory only. So for the speed to develope I need to develope both physical agility and my mental speed.

I also find I can play must faster when I mentally group the scales in triplets (only mentally, not accent them). I think it's the symmetry, my brain always has trouble dealing with asymmetry in numbers, so the 3-4 grouping messes with my brain grin

My scales only started getting faster after 3 years, so I wouldn't worry too much as long as you have good instruction on the basic technique (how to work the thumb, not twist the wrist and not have too lazy fingers).

Re: Trouble with scales.
Halee Reddick #2452870 08/22/15 02:55 AM
Joined: Aug 2015
Posts: 5
R
Junior Member
Offline
Junior Member
R
Joined: Aug 2015
Posts: 5
That increasing speed would make your scales get sloppy is perfectly normal. I have exactly the same experience, although thankfully at faster speeds than a few years ago.

What has most helped me is to use a metronome and track my speed. I think of scales as a sort of athletic activity where I am increasing my conditioning and getting slightly faster over a period of weeks and months.

I list the scales I want to learn over the next few weeks in a column on the left side of a sheet (Not every scale in the known universe -- just the few I need to learn right now). Then I do the scales starting at an easy metronome pace: left hand (LH), right hand (RH) and hands together (HT). I start pretty slow at first because I find playing perfectly steady with a metronome can make it a lot harder.

LH and RH first to focus on form. Then I add HT. I write down my pace (in beats per minute) after I've done three times perfect, with good form, for LH, RH and HT. I only increase the pace once I have perfected all three (especially HT). Then I start with LH and RH at 5 bpm faster than I what I had been playing, eventually adding HT at this faster speed.

The point is that I don't waste time playing scales either too slow or too fast. I play them at exactly the speed where I start having difficulty. When I come back to the scale again in the next day or two I know where to start (slightly slower than my previous day's pace, always LH and RH separate before playing hands together). I stop that scale for the day once I've boosted the speed a little. I add that new speed in the line for that scale, right after where I wrote the previous days pace. Each line gets higher and higher numbers as I get faster over days and weeks. (Yeah!)

This method lets me focus on improvement rather than mindless repetition. Also play for your teacher at this speed. It will be easier for him or her to see what problems you might be having. When we play our scales too slowly they will look perfect -- but that makes it impossible for my teacher to help me.

This isn't the only way I practice scales (I do them sometimes staccato, in triplets, formula pattern, from one end of the keyboard to the other and back, etc.), but I keep coming back to this to make sure I'm continually improving.


Piano Teacher
Own: Baldwin BP152; 1916 Heintzman
Play: Boston GP-163; Roland LX-15
Re: Trouble with scales.
Halee Reddick #2453310 08/23/15 06:27 PM
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 13
H
Junior Member
OP Offline
Junior Member
H
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 13
Thank you everyone for your advice! I have so much trouble being patient with the speed of my slow scales because I frequently watch concert pianists play incredibly fast scale passages on YouTube haha!!

I've actually never used a metronome with my scales since I began piano so maybe I will give that a try. smile Perhaps that will help me.

Re: Trouble with scales.
Halee Reddick #2453313 08/23/15 06:40 PM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 7,101
Silver Subscriber
7000 Post Club Member
Offline
Silver Subscriber
7000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 7,101
Originally Posted by Halee Reddick
Thank you everyone for your advice! I have so much trouble being patient with the speed of my slow scales because I frequently watch concert pianists play incredibly fast scale passages on YouTube haha!!

I've actually never used a metronome with my scales since I began piano so maybe I will give that a try. smile Perhaps that will help me.


I downloaded a free metronome to my cell phone and plug my earphones into the phone. Just a consideration


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: Trouble with scales.
Halee Reddick #2453359 08/23/15 11:07 PM
Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 4,765
O
4000 Post Club Member
Offline
4000 Post Club Member
O
Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 4,765
Originally Posted by Halee Reddick
I have so much trouble being patient with the speed of my slow scales because I frequently watch concert pianists play incredibly fast scale passages on YouTube haha!!


I know how you feel, at some point I also watched concert pianists trying to imitate their technique. Now I just try to enjoy their music and accept that I won't be able to do what they do. Probably never...

There is a scale passage in one of my pieces that my favorite pianist plays at lightning speed. So I spent weeks trying to make it sound like his by practicing it in isolation and experimenting with fingerings. Didn't work, it was never as clear or even or leggiero as supposed to. So I gave up and settled for less speed. I then started playing the same piece again after about 6 months and the passage almost doubled in speed in just a few days. And during that 6 months I did very little scale practice in general and I never practice scales for speed really.

So sometimes you get faster in scales just by getting better in general smile

Re: Trouble with scales.
Halee Reddick #2453379 08/24/15 01:54 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 135
T
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
T
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 135
Suggestions:

1. Trill all notes that require adjacent fingers (1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-5, but not 3-1 or 4-1 for thumb transition).

2. Focus on dominating accuracy in thumb transitions. Repeat transition sections quickly and with as near to 100% accuracy as possible (i.e. focusing only on the notes involing thumb transition).

3. When doing more than one octave scales, imagine the next hand position before it's required. This will help to think ahead.

Do 1 and 2 very well before worrying about 3.

Re: Trouble with scales.
Halee Reddick #2453423 08/24/15 07:21 AM
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 9,077
W
wr Offline
9000 Post Club Member
Offline
9000 Post Club Member
W
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 9,077
You might find that this book is useful. IIRC, in the past some people here have said it really helped.

Page 1 of 2 1 2

Moderated by  Brendan, Kreisler 

Link Copied to Clipboard
(ad)
Pianoteq
Steinway Spiro Layering
(ad)
PianoDisc

PianoDisc
(ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad)
Mason & Hamlin Pianos
What's Hot!!
News from the Piano World
Our October 2020 Free Piano Newsletter is Here!
---------------------
3,000,000+!
------------------
Posting Pictures on the Forums
-------------------
Forums RULES & HELP
-------------------
ADVERTISE on Piano World
New Topics - Multiple Forums
K. Kawai piano. Best tuning,
by Maximillyan - 11/29/20 03:22 AM
Dual-sensor vs Triple-sensor Actions
by Almaviva - 11/29/20 12:14 AM
Disklavier parts needed for Yamaha Mark 3 Disklavier
by Dfrankjazz - 11/28/20 10:52 PM
Pandemic a boon for piano stores?
by doremi - 11/28/20 10:37 PM
Download Sheet Music
Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads
Forum Statistics
Forums41
Topics203,122
Posts3,028,368
Members99,409
Most Online15,252
Mar 21st, 2010
Please Support Our Advertisers


Faust Harrison 100+ Steinways

Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver

 Best of Piano Buyer

PianoTeq Bechstein
Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter |


copyright 1997 - 2020 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.4