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Re: Scales and Arpeggios
Incongruous #2475031 10/28/15 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Incongruous
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.
I think even 45 minutes every day is far too much scale practice for all but the most serious students. Maybe between 1% and 5% of those studying piano. My guess is that except for that small percent, piano teachers would be very happy if their students practiced one hour per day and most of that should be on repertoire.

Re: Scales and Arpeggios
Cheeto717 #2475091 10/28/15 11:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Cheeto717
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).


^This is probably the best way to improve your playing and technique. Just play as beautifully (round pearly tone) and musically as possible, the technique naturally follows.

Re: Scales and Arpeggios
pianoloverus #2475123 10/29/15 02:32 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
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.


To me scales are theory first and technique second. Practicing them just was not productive until after about 2-3 years of piano study. Because I could not comprehend the scales, I could not play them either no matter how much my teacher tried to teach me the right way to play them. After I started learning theory the scales started to make sense and very little practice was needed to fluently play them. The required finger and hand technique was already there, learned it from repertoire and other exercises. Maybe I am made backwards, but that's how it was for me. Fortunately for me it was clear that I won't take exams, my only goal is to play repertoire. So why not just accept that different students need different approaches?

Re: Scales and Arpeggios
boogiewoogie123 #2475132 10/29/15 04:42 AM
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I prefer Hanon over scales.

Re: Scales and Arpeggios
Bachian #2475140 10/29/15 05:44 AM
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Originally Posted by deerfield
Originally Posted by Cheeto717
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).


^This is probably the best way to improve your playing and technique. Just play as beautifully (round pearly tone) and musically as possible, the technique naturally follows.
I think it's just the opposite. If one doesn't understand/know/practice the proper technique one will not be able to play beautifully by "just playing beautifully".




Last edited by pianoloverus; 10/29/15 05:45 AM.
Re: Scales and Arpeggios
Orange Soda King #2475163 10/29/15 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
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.


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Re: Scales and Arpeggios
outo #2475168 10/29/15 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by outo
To me scales are theory first and technique second. Practicing them just was not productive until after about 2-3 years of piano study. Because I could not comprehend the scales, I could not play them either no matter how much my teacher tried to teach me the right way to play them. After I started learning theory the scales started to make sense and very little practice was needed to fluently play them. The required finger and hand technique was already there, learned it from repertoire and other exercises. Maybe I am made backwards, but that's how it was for me. Fortunately for me it was clear that I won't take exams, my only goal is to play repertoire. So why not just accept that different students need different approaches?


I think if a student has such a clearly defined goal then it would be perfectly fine to tailor everything to that outcome. Why fight someone's motivation?

I might try and challenge the idea of doing only repertoire with an outcome I've seen (been) - the not-so-versatile classical musician who can play Mozart beautifully but can't fake his way through a jazz chart or a rock tune. I have a friend who was learning to be a studio engineer, he brought in some classical musicians from the school for a recording project and was a little flummoxed when some of them couldn't jam some quick simple thing out and were even a bit angry at the request.

Not to say this is you Outo, but it is common enough to have become the reputation of classical students.

Re: Scales and Arpeggios
1RC #2475171 10/29/15 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by 1RC
Originally Posted by outo
To me scales are theory first and technique second. Practicing them just was not productive until after about 2-3 years of piano study. Because I could not comprehend the scales, I could not play them either no matter how much my teacher tried to teach me the right way to play them. After I started learning theory the scales started to make sense and very little practice was needed to fluently play them. The required finger and hand technique was already there, learned it from repertoire and other exercises. Maybe I am made backwards, but that's how it was for me. Fortunately for me it was clear that I won't take exams, my only goal is to play repertoire. So why not just accept that different students need different approaches?


I think if a student has such a clearly defined goal then it would be perfectly fine to tailor everything to that outcome. Why fight someone's motivation?

I might try and challenge the idea of doing only repertoire with an outcome I've seen (been) - the not-so-versatile classical musician who can play Mozart beautifully but can't fake his way through a jazz chart or a rock tune. I have a friend who was learning to be a studio engineer, he brought in some classical musicians from the school for a recording project and was a little flummoxed when some of them couldn't jam some quick simple thing out and were even a bit angry at the request.

Not to say this is you Outo, but it is common enough to have become the reputation of classical students.


When it comes to playing the piano that is me, but it is completely intentional! I used to sing jazz and I have no problem improvising with my voice. I have also played rock guitar but it was a very long time ago and what I learned then I have forgotten. But with the piano I just don't care about that stuff at all. I started to learn piano to play classical piano music because I got obsessed with it grin

Last edited by outo; 10/29/15 08:27 AM.
Re: Scales and Arpeggios
boogiewoogie123 #2475185 10/29/15 09:17 AM
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Perfect, you know what you want and who can argue with that! I don't think the obsession subsides at all laugh It seems the more I learn the more I appreciate the masterworks.

Re: Scales and Arpeggios
1RC #2475200 10/29/15 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by 1RC

I might try and challenge the idea of doing only repertoire with an outcome I've seen (been) - the not-so-versatile classical musician who can play Mozart beautifully but can't fake his way through a jazz chart or a rock tune. I have a friend who was learning to be a studio engineer, he brought in some classical musicians from the school for a recording project and was a little flummoxed when some of them couldn't jam some quick simple thing out and were even a bit angry at the request.

Not to say this is you Outo, but it is common enough to have become the reputation of classical students.

Why should faking one's way through a jazz chart or a rock tune be an important part (or even any part) of a classical pianist's abilities?

It's like expecting a jazz piano player to be able to play a Mozart piano sonata properly. BTW, I have two jazz friends, neither of whom can play a two-handed scale or arpeggio rapidly and evenly. But none of the stuff they play requires a two handed scale (in unison or contrary motion, or thirds or sixths) or arpeggio - in fact, they only play what they like, so they simply don't need to play anything they can't manage, unlike classical pianists.

Every Christmas, we get together for an "improv contest", and they always accuse me of not doing "real" improvs, simply because I don't use jazz harmonies. I in turn point out that their improvs were always the same, using the same old added-note chords regardless of the context, whereas I can use different harmonies and also pass tunes and accompaniments between the hands, add various counterpoint, and vary the texture and voicing to bring out inner strands. Which, for me as a classical pianist, is a much more important skill than playing Silent Night using a string of augmented chords, which serve no purpose but detract from the simple tune.


"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: Scales and Arpeggios
boogiewoogie123 #2475413 10/29/15 10:36 PM
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Rotate through the keys one key at a time improvising on the scale and then improvising on harmonically structured arpeggios. When done 'honestly,' this is an excellent workout for technique.


"Imagine it in all its primatic colorings, its counterpart in our souls - our souls that are great pianos whose strings, of honey and of steel, the divisions of the rainbow set twanging, loosing on the air great novels of adventure!" - William Carlos Williams
Re: Scales and Arpeggios
bennevis #2475524 10/30/15 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Why should faking one's way through a jazz chart or a rock tune be an important part (or even any part) of a classical pianist's abilities?

It's like expecting a jazz piano player to be able to play a Mozart piano sonata properly. BTW, I have two jazz friends, neither of whom can play a two-handed scale or arpeggio rapidly and evenly. But none of the stuff they play requires a two handed scale (in unison or contrary motion, or thirds or sixths) or arpeggio - in fact, they only play what they like, so they simply don't need to play anything they can't manage, unlike classical pianists.

Every Christmas, we get together for an "improv contest", and they always accuse me of not doing "real" improvs, simply because I don't use jazz harmonies. I in turn point out that their improvs were always the same, using the same old added-note chords regardless of the context, whereas I can use different harmonies and also pass tunes and accompaniments between the hands, add various counterpoint, and vary the texture and voicing to bring out inner strands. Which, for me as a classical pianist, is a much more important skill than playing Silent Night using a string of augmented chords, which serve no purpose but detract from the simple tune.


By "faking it" I meant simply being able to improvise and jam something out in key and on time, as opposed to shrugging and saying "sorry I can't do that". My meaning wasn't to magically morph into an experienced jazz musician, lol! I'd expect that a well trained jazz musician should be capable of getting the notes to a Mozart Sonata under the fingers as well, if for some reason he decided to or found himself in a situation where it would be useful. What I was trying to illustrate was the usefulness in knowing scales, chords and arpeggios in our bones, to at be able to function in almost any situation.

While we're on it though, in my brief dabbles into jazz harmonies I did find it pretty chaotic when there were too many extended harmony notes, and very important to have a clear bassline so they were experienced as flavor rather than confusion. I remember a guy who put his own spin on a theory assignment by using tons of wild harmonies, unfortunately I found the result completely incoherent, haha!

Re: Scales and Arpeggios
boogiewoogie123 #2475633 10/30/15 03:16 PM
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Many who post here have a broad experience of the piano repertoire. How often is the standard fingering with which we practice scales and arpeggios actually used in pieces?


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Re: Scales and Arpeggios
boogiewoogie123 #2475638 10/30/15 03:29 PM
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In my experience, incredibly often. Many of the techniques in Baroque, Classical, and much Romantic are very straightforward scales, arpeggios, double thirds, etc. Once you get to 20th century composers the technical challenges get really weird, but it's all based on keyboard technique going back to Bach.


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Re: Scales and Arpeggios
Stubbie #2475642 10/30/15 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Stubbie
Many who post here have a broad experience of the piano repertoire. How often is the standard fingering with which we practice scales and arpeggios actually used in pieces?

A quick example from two of my favorite Chopin pieces - the 'Minute' Waltz ends with a rapid descending RH scale of D flat, and the Op.25/1 Etude ends with a two-handed A flat major arpeggio in 6ths. Both use the standard fingering.

And the Fantaisie-Impromptu has a RH chromatic scale (twice) of 2 1/2 octaves using standard fingering.


"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: Scales and Arpeggios
Stubbie #2475699 10/30/15 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Stubbie
Many who post here have a broad experience of the piano repertoire. How often is the standard fingering with which we practice scales and arpeggios actually used in pieces?


In many of the pieces I played recently. Bach-Busoni Chaconne, Alkan Chant in E Major 38/1, Schubert Impromptu in E-Flat Major 90/2 off the top of my head...

Re: Scales and Arpeggios
boogiewoogie123 #2475723 10/30/15 08:29 PM
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Besides the examples mentioned so far, every time one passes the thumb under one even if not playing a full scale is using the main technical problem in scales. The examples of the above, at least up to music written before 1900 are literally endless.

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