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Scales and Arpeggios
#2474656 10/27/15 09:06 PM
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I am mostly self taught, but I get occasional lessons so I don't have all the knowledge you guys have about technique and how to practice it so:

I was just wondering what you guys think the most efficient way to practice scales and arpeggios is if you have an hour a day to practice.
How do you split your time up between Scales, Arpeggios and pieces?
Do you practice all the scales and arpeggios every day or just a couple every day?
How exactly do you guys learn your scales and arpeggios and practice them (how easy should they be for you?, how do you speed up?)

Thank you guys in advance for your suggestions

Re: Scales and Arpeggios
boogiewoogie123 #2474670 10/27/15 09:51 PM
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Scales: Don't overload yourself, but over time, learn and solidy the fingerings of every major and minor (natural, harmonic, and melodic) scale, and do them with a metronome four octaves up and down the piano. Start slowly, and make sure you're doing them smoothly and evenly before speeding up. Also, don't think of them as bunches of individual notes, or some tedious technical exercise. Think of them as sweeping musical gestures going up and then down. With a bit of imagination and seeing progress, practicing scales can be quite fun. Also, try learning B Major, F# Major, and C# major first... Easiest to physically play.

With arpeggios, you might try this comprehensive exercise. It encompasses every triad and seventh chord that contains your starting note. Let's pick C:

-C major arpeggio up and down for octaves.
-C-Eb-Ab (A-flat major, first inversion) up and down four octaves.
-C-F-A (F major, 2nd inv) up and down 4 octaves.
-Then do C minor, A minor, F minor triads
-C diminished, A diminished, F# diministed traids
-C augmented triad (Ab and E augmented are the exact same)
-Major minor 7th chords: C7, Ab7, F7, D7
-Minor minor 7th chords: Cm7, Am7, Fm7, Dm7
-Major major 7th chords: CM7, AbM7, FM7, DbM7
-Half diminished 7th chords: C, A, F#, D
-Fully diminished 7th chord: C dim (Eb, F#, and A are the exact same)

It's a lot... But that's what I did when I was younger. I might take a whack at that tomorrow and see how I do, haha. It's been a while.

Re: Scales and Arpeggios
Orange Soda King #2474673 10/27/15 10:00 PM
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Thanks Orange Soda for your response. I will definitely try your suggestions it seems like they will definitely help.

Re: Scales and Arpeggios
boogiewoogie123 #2474723 10/28/15 02:22 AM
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I prefer not to use scales for developing technique since there are better things for that but what scales are great for is learning and understanding the key structure and harmonies as well as common patterns.
For that I focus on KNOWING the scales rather than how well I can play them. A great exercise for that is to play all triads of a scale up and down. In C-major that's trivially easy as it's only white keys but as soon as you get a few sharps or flats, you'll notice how taxing on the mind it is to really know every note that belongs to the scale.

Re: Scales and Arpeggios
ahoffmann #2474803 10/28/15 10:06 AM
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Thank you for your suggestions I will try your idea with the triads

Re: Scales and Arpeggios
boogiewoogie123 #2474817 10/28/15 10:35 AM
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For sure! I'm going to try OSK's exercise today.

Don't neglect the contrary motion--my routine is four octaves up and down until smooth, thinking of the whole motion over the course of the octave or four octaves rather than individual notes. It helps to build in dynamics so you feel like you're going somewhere larger (cresc to the top, or dim, etc--say something, do something), then go two octaves up, split the hands (one goes back down two octaves, the other continues up another two octaves), back to center, both hands all the way up, back to center, split and come back, down to octaves to starting point.

If all goes well, speed the whole thing up, but not unless everything else is in place (good whole keyboard motion, dynamics)

I do that major, minor (natural/harm/mel), chromatic. Long arps and chords the same pattern, short arps don't go contrary.

I know you can work on these things WITHIN pieces, but for me it helps to spend some time isolating out these common fundamental motions and not have an even larger musical picture to address at the same time.

Last edited by TwoSnowflakes; 10/28/15 10:38 AM.
Re: Scales and Arpeggios
TwoSnowflakes #2474823 10/28/15 10:42 AM
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Thats funny because I saw that way of practicing scales and arpeggios on Josh Wright's youtube channel on his episode on scales I will definitely try that as well. Thank you

Re: Scales and Arpeggios
boogiewoogie123 #2474842 10/28/15 11:41 AM
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I would second OSK's advice on taking your time. I think of developing technique as a lifetime practice and try to have a daily routine to keep it moving along. Something manageable that I can fit into all but my busiest days, which for me is 15-30 mins. Always aim to for accuracy and consciousness - in the solitude of the practice room it can be easy to get lackadaisical and slip into mindless repetition. I try to counter that by remembering the purpose of practice is to prepare to be heard, and try to always bring it closer towards something worth hearing.

I have a quibble with the piece of OSK's advice on seeing the scale as a sweeping gesture vs individual notes. I think that having a stage of learning the scales as each note with it's name is useful in knowing them distinctly. It's to know in Gb major that the C is flat but the F isn't, which I found useful in the early stages in not getting the shape of the scale confused with Db major, and especially useful in learning the harmonic minor scales. Just spelling them out slowly set that foundation before seeing them as a wave.

I'd also like to mention to keep in mind your motivation for learning scales and arpeggios (and whatever other technical exercise you go on to). For me it was a bit of advice given by an improviser who floored me with his abilities, saying that building technique to the point where your hands can express ideas just like your tongue does, unconsciously, is necessary to expressive improvisations. I'm far from amazing, but knowing my scales, chords and arpeggios has come in very handy in situations where I have to throw something together on the spot.

Re: Scales and Arpeggios
boogiewoogie123 #2474844 10/28/15 11:45 AM
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I read somewhere that the first scale Chopin taught was F# major for reasons that OSK brought up. Interesting stuff.


"I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed equally well."

J.S. Bach
Re: Scales and Arpeggios
Cheeto717 #2474883 10/28/15 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Cheeto717
I read somewhere that the first scale Chopin taught was F# major for reasons that OSK brought up. Interesting stuff.


Not that it really matters, but I've read that Chopin taught the B major scale first because it fits the hand the best.

Re: Scales and Arpeggios
TwelfthRoot2 #2474896 10/28/15 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by TwelfthRoot2
Originally Posted by Cheeto717
I read somewhere that the first scale Chopin taught was F# major for reasons that OSK brought up. Interesting stuff.


Not that it really matters, but I've read that Chopin taught the B major scale first because it fits the hand the best.

It was definitely B and not F#.


Regards,

Polyphonist
Re: Scales and Arpeggios
boogiewoogie123 #2474909 10/28/15 02:35 PM
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When I was first memorizing scales and arpeggios, I'd play them straight through everyday (chromatically or circle of fifths, and also mixing/matching Major and minor keys).

When I started doing musical exercises from the Scales Bootcamp book, I found it more effective to concentrate on 1 or 2 per day (30-60 min).

Currently, I run through several rhythm, dynamic, articulation & balance exercises in the morning. At the end of each exercise, I use a metronome app which slowly speeds up the tempo (72-150bpm).

This type of practice is not for everyone, but I'm one of those people who enjoys my scales & arpeggio practice.


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Re: Scales and Arpeggios
ahoffmann #2474915 10/28/15 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by ahoffmann
I prefer not to use scales for developing technique since there are better things for that but what scales are great for is learning and understanding the key structure and harmonies as well as common patterns.
Scales are a basic technique and one of the most important since they occur(in whole or part)so frequently, i.e. they are one of the most common patterns. So I think it's somewhat of a misconception to say scales are used for developing technique the way one might say playing a series of Czerny Etudes are for developing technique. What could be better for developing scales then playing them? When one becomes reasonably proficient with scales then I think other technical exercises may become appropriate, but I can't think of many that should come before scales.

Re: Scales and Arpeggios
1RC #2474919 10/28/15 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by 1RC
I think that having a stage of learning the scales as each note with it's name is useful in knowing them distinctly. It's to know in Gb major that the C is flat but the F isn't, which I found useful in the early stages in not getting the shape of the scale confused with Db major, and especially useful in learning the harmonic minor scales. Just spelling them out slowly set that foundation before seeing them as a wave.


Oh, you're totally right about that. I just meant after that was established, and then working more toward speeding them up and making them smooth and even.

Re: Scales and Arpeggios
TwelfthRoot2 #2474935 10/28/15 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by TwelfthRoot2
Originally Posted by Cheeto717
I read somewhere that the first scale Chopin taught was F# major for reasons that OSK brought up. Interesting stuff.


Not that it really matters, but I've read that Chopin taught the B major scale first because it fits the hand the best.


Oops, that's right. My bad!


"I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed equally well."

J.S. Bach
Re: Scales and Arpeggios
boogiewoogie123 #2474937 10/28/15 03:13 PM
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I also want to reinforce the idea that exercises should be played in the most musical way possible. I always tell my students to play a scale as if it were in a beautiful piece by Chopin. And I can think of several examples of when Chopin puts a very straightforward scale in his music (Ending of the E major scherzo, ending of the B minor scherzo, first section of the Ab polonaise, etc).


"I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed equally well."

J.S. Bach
Re: Scales and Arpeggios
boogiewoogie123 #2474942 10/28/15 03:23 PM
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I would also recommend practicing scales in thirds and sixths, both major and minor, as many works use them - Chopin G minor Ballade, e.g.


Re: Scales and Arpeggios
boogiewoogie123 #2474943 10/28/15 03:24 PM
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I think often the mistake people make when practising scales is it's not the length of time you play them for that often counts - it's more the quality. A good teacher will tell you how you need to move your fingers.
Even practising a few scales for 45mins in a well focused, mindful way is far more productive than doing all of them mindlessly in every way possible for 5 hours.

Having a certain facility to play the piano is more often a result of having been taught how to move your fingers well than actual sheer talent.

Last edited by Incongruous; 10/28/15 03:25 PM.
Re: Scales and Arpeggios
boogiewoogie123 #2474984 10/28/15 05:14 PM
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Thank you guys again for all your suggestions. I realized that what I was doing wrong thanks to your suggestions was that I was trying to play them to quickly and I was making mistakes. I also realized you shouldn't be making any mistakes so I have slowed my scales down to the point where I am making no mistakes now.

Thanks

Re: Scales and Arpeggios
prout #2475023 10/28/15 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by prout
I would also recommend practicing scales in thirds and sixths, both major and minor, as many works use them - Chopin G minor Ballade, e.g.
IMO after maybe the first 8-10 years of serious study but not for 98% of pianists probably ever.

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