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Complete newb question on scales #2738509
05/21/18 07:29 PM
05/21/18 07:29 PM
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Tyrone Slothrop Online content OP
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So I am playing scale exercises from Philip Johnston's Scales Bootcamp book and I have a completely newbie question which the book doesn't address anywhere. If I am playing a scale, does the scale end when I get to the highest note, or do I have to turn around and come back to the starting point, and only when I am back to the beginning does the scale end? For only one of his scale exercises (contrary motion) does Johnston actually say to turn around and return to the starting position, but I wonder if this is an oversight. There are timed exercises, where for example, I have to do 25 consecutive scales in 3 minutes, and it seems awkward to lift up one's hands and return to the starting position. On the other hand, since they are timed, it would literally take almost twice as long if we had to walk the scale down as well as walking it up. I saw some videos online about this book, obviously before it was finished since it still had musical notation on staves in the video, but the actual printed book doesn't have such notation, and these videos show notes going up and then back down.

Is it conceivable that for the scale exercises in this book, they only go up? Or are scale exercises always going up and back down again, and this book has just neglected to mention this?

Last edited by Slothrop, Tyrone; 05/21/18 07:34 PM.

across the stone, deathless piano performances
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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738520
05/21/18 08:24 PM
05/21/18 08:24 PM
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I am still relatively new at piano, but I do have a few thoughts on this, largely based on other instruments and scales I have learned on them.

First of all, playing 25 scales in 3 minutes sounds more like athletics to me, and not musical. Granted, there is a degree of learning mechanics, but it should always be musical. And that degree sounds even more like athletics than music, and even worse, potentially sounds like building up strength and endurance, rather than training muscles to play fluid and relaxed. What you described is a recipe for disaster.

Granted, there could be more context than implied, but if you have this question about scales, and it has not been presented, I would not even think about trying to do '25 scales in 3 minutes'. There is not enough background or understanding of what is going on, and it will just be detrimental.

At this point, you should be looking at the *quality* of your scales, and not *quantity* and certainly not quantity/time. And are probably not ready for a scales bootcamp.

Your time would be better spent just learning how to play the scales efficiently. And ignore that book for a few years (or even never pick it up again). With that book, it would be like training to do a competition 500 meter freestyle while you only know how to dog paddle (going back to sports analogy, and yes, even sports require a large amount of technique to utilize strength and endurance)

And if you are an absolute beginner, just forget scales entirely for a bit. They have no value until you can see how they apply. For a good idea of how they apply, start with your right hand on a C, finger 5. Play down the scale, using the rhythm of "Joy to the World". That's just one easy example.

But, that example brings up a point. If you only go up, you're missing out. If you go up and down, your still missing out. That "Joy to the World" goes down, then up. Hmm... and if you are only doing a straight even rhythm.... (That is just my take, from learning and playing other instruments. I think scales are good to know and learn, but they are overrated, and never should be taken as a goal themselves)

Just my thoughts, but put that book on a shelf until you hit a point where you know your ability (or lack of) to play scales is limiting you. I am pretty sure that is a long, long way off.

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738522
05/21/18 08:25 PM
05/21/18 08:25 PM
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From what I've read, and from looking at the video on-line that gave a few hints, I wouldn't go near that book with a ten foot pole.

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738524
05/21/18 08:30 PM
05/21/18 08:30 PM
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Tyrone Slothrop Online content OP
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Thanks for the comments. Philip Johnston just wrote to me and said that the scales always go up and back down again and no scale is completed without returning to the starting position, so my original question is answered.


across the stone, deathless piano performances
Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: keystring] #2738525
05/21/18 08:35 PM
05/21/18 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
From what I've read, and from looking at the video on-line that gave a few hints, I wouldn't go near that book with a ten foot pole.


You were much more succinct about it that I was. I need to learn to stop saying so many words. laugh

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738533
05/21/18 10:09 PM
05/21/18 10:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Slothrop, Tyrone
Thanks for the comments. Philip Johnston just wrote to me and said that the scales always go up and back down again and no scale is completed without returning to the starting position, so my original question is answered.

Has Philip Johnston also told you how to play the scales in a way that are comfortable, will give a good sound for every note for both evenness of tone and timing from note to note - and in a way that you won't find yourself with an injury in a few months or weeks? Has he given any warning about the kind of harm that some of these exercises may cause you - i.e. the 25 consecutive scales in 3 minutes?

Of course scales can go up and down, and the practice of scales usually does. Scales are a sequence of notes with a given series of intervals that are contained in music. In actual music, a scale can start on any degree of a scale, and stop on any degree, going up or going down, or both.

I was injured within a few months of practising scales from a book. While I recovered, it took years for me to be able to do scales with my teacher, a good teacher, because of the wrong learning that had to be undone. And it wasn't even as crazy as the thing you described.

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738537
05/21/18 10:20 PM
05/21/18 10:20 PM
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Good warnings. I think I will skip the crazy exercises in the book then, such as the 25 scales in 3 mins. I certainly don't want to develop any injuries.


across the stone, deathless piano performances
Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738543
05/21/18 11:11 PM
05/21/18 11:11 PM
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It sounds like learning guitar in the 80s. Speed and more speed. As stated above, quality counts for much more. You are coming along fine it seems from other posts I’ve seen.


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: keystring] #2738547
05/21/18 11:55 PM
05/21/18 11:55 PM
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Tyrone Slothrop Online content OP
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Originally Posted by keystring
I was injured within a few months of practising scales from a book. While I recovered, it took years for me to be able to do scales with my teacher, a good teacher, because of the wrong learning that had to be undone. And it wasn't even as crazy as the thing you described.

Was the injury you sustained a repetitive stress injury? Like carpal tunnel syndrome or trigger finger? How did you rehabilitate it? And how did your teacher correct things? Did she tell you to play with much less tension?


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738554
05/22/18 12:52 AM
05/22/18 12:52 AM
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I endorse the opinions of previous posters. A scale is just an arbitrary keyboard pattern like any other note combination. Grinding away at one playing form day in day out with no variation stands a good chance of killing your love of music as well as your mechanism. Here's a thought: once you have the whole scale (or any pattern) in your mind's eye, improvise using its notes in whatever way or sequence takes your ear and fancy. Just up and down is boring ! Make up little phrases within the scale which exercise your imagination as well as your fingers. Start with single notes in each hand and introduce double notes gradually as your ear and increasing dexterity suggest. Imitation baroque is a nice easy start but nothing is compulsory, freedom is the privilege and right of an adult beginner.


"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Ted] #2738556
05/22/18 01:09 AM
05/22/18 01:09 AM
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Tyrone Slothrop Online content OP
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Originally Posted by Ted
A scale is just an arbitrary keyboard pattern like any other note combination. Grinding away at one playing form day in day out with no variation stands a good chance of killing your love of music as well as your mechanism.

As a newbie, I have no standing to discuss this and no horse in this race. So I will let THIS speak instead.


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738570
05/22/18 03:30 AM
05/22/18 03:30 AM
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I agree with points 4 and 5 of the article to a very limited extent and disagree with all the others. I know that any benefits I might gain from repeatedly playing ordinary scales in the same fashion can be achieved in other, more enjoyable and certainly much more musical ways. However, I suppose that, as a seventy-year-old improviser who has not had a lesson for fifty years, I am scarcely typical, and there is a chance that my opinion is true only for me. I have also had the luck to own a Virgil Practice Clavier, which allows me to use my piano for nothing but creating music. The issue of scales comes up every so often on most piano forums and agreement is seldom, if ever, reached.

Last edited by Ted; 05/22/18 03:34 AM.

"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Ted] #2738577
05/22/18 04:57 AM
05/22/18 04:57 AM
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The benefits of playing scales were discussed countless times on these forums. But there are two posts by Tubbie0075 and zrtf90 that I had found so good and so accurate that I copied them to my notebook.

Originally Posted by Tubbie0075
Don't forget its usefulness for techniques. I use scales for practising finger actions, touches and dexterity, arms levels, weights and rotations, dynamics, hands coordination, speed etc. without having to worry about notes and rhythms like playing a piece of music. I can use C major scale and arpeggios to warm up for these technical aspects for half an hour. Yes, nothing but C major scale in many different ways. Sometimes that's all I do in a practise session, especially if I haven't touched the piano for a day or two.

I find that C major scale is the most difficult scale to feel "grounded". If I can feel comfortable with C major in all sorts of ways, I can be comfortable with any other keys, and I am more ready to tackle different pieces.


Before that zrtf90 had written that by playing scales a student learns to listen to his playing very carefully, to hear nuances of every played note. The great idea! Now I understand how true it is. It really may be the biggest benefit of playing scales, especially for beginners.

Besides that I would add that scales also develop the aural imagination very well, because every time we're going to play a scale we need to imagine how it should sound like for a moment before playing it. This is something of extreme importance for every piano player. And one more good thing about scales is that they train us in playing long passages, not only physically, but also mentally. This is what one Russian pedagogue called "the development of a musical will". By a musical will he meant the ability of a pianist to play many bars by a single musical movement, bringing all emotional energy of a fragment to some single endpoint. He measured the musical will of a student by estimating how many notes (octaves) of a scale a student can play by a single musical movement, maintaining artistic crescendo or diminuendo and bearing the endpoint in his/her mind. This mental ability probably affects not only the fast runs, but all the phrasing, and even the perception of the music in general.

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738589
05/22/18 06:42 AM
05/22/18 06:42 AM
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I personally learned scales about a year into my playing. For me they were of immense benefit, but not because I could play scales, but because of what I then derived from them. My teacher taught me that scales and chords are basically one and the same, linked inextricably.

For example, learn the C man scale up and down, 4 octaves, then with contrary motion, then learn the chords that are contained within the scale. C, F, G then Cmaj7, Fmaj7, G7, then Amin, etc. Learn the inversions of those chords, learn cadences, or common combinations (e.g. 4-5-1, 2-5-1, etc), then their relative minors. If you do this for all the keys, then you can play any chord easily and know what works with what.

When I learned this I was working on Lead Sheet jazz music. Even better is to learn it in conjunction with a particular song, e.g. Cmaj w Fly Me To The Moon, Eb w Autumn Leaves. To me, that was the real benefit of learning scales.


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738594
05/22/18 07:12 AM
05/22/18 07:12 AM
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Johnson constructed Scales Bootcamp for a purpose which he clearly describes in the book.
SPOILER: Playing 25 scales in 3 minutes is NOT his purpose.

Go ahead and express your opinions about scales and anything else (this is the internet, after all), but remember that you'll sound more clever if you hold off on issuing criticism until you have at least a passing familiarity with the object.


Enough is as good as a feast.

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738598
05/22/18 07:26 AM
05/22/18 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Iarolslav Vasiliev
Before that zrtf90 had written that by playing scales a student learns to listen to his playing very carefully...
I'm flattered that you've learnt something from me and remembered the source but I'm sorry if I wrote that...let me correct it here:

By listening very carefully to his scales a student learns to play. smile

I have said that scales are ear training more than finger training. We don't even use all five fingers when practising regular scales, babies are born with more than enough finger strength to play the piano, etc., etc.

Scales are more about coordination than anything else mechanically, coordination between hands and fingers, yes, but more importantly between brain and fingertip using the whole body, with our weight resting on the stool and balanced on the heels.

Western Harmony, since the introduction of tonality that followed the development of modern temperaments, has moved from the tonic to the dominant and back again. It's how music breathes. Scales inculcate in our hearing this movement to tonic. Nearly all tonal music cadences by a rise from the dominant to tonic via the leading note or by falling from dominant to tonic often via the third.

Because the piano keyboard has more keys than we have fingers we have to move our arms and hands to cover the keyboard. We do this by pivoting our thumb around one or other finger (RH rising, LH falling) or one of our fingers around our thumb (LH rising, RH falling).

Scales train this movment around our third and fourth fingers. Bach teaches us to use our second finger for this, as well as third over fourth and fourth over fifth, etc.
Chopin, Liszt and Brahms also teach us to use the fifth finger as a pivot.

If you want velocity there are many excellent examples of fast pieces in the piano canon that serve our purposes better than scales. Developing speed from scales often defeats the purpose because in real music we need to be able to change patterns as fast as we change fingers - a mental exercise far more than a mechanical one - but scales don't need mental involvement for velocity, just procedural memory (and a good book to read while we're practising).

A much better option is to practise scales and arpeggios in the key of the piece you're about to study with the touches, tempos and moods required by that piece. Suit your scales to music, not vice versa.

You don't have to play the pieces, necessarily. You might try cycling the preludes (and/or the fugues) of the WTC over 48 days, 48 weeks or 48 months as mood and style indicators that cover all keys (and a wide range of moods). They also serve as great active listening if you have access to recordings or for audiating (reading and hearing them in your head without actually playing) if you have the scores.


Richard
Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: malkin] #2738600
05/22/18 07:32 AM
05/22/18 07:32 AM
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Oops
Originally Posted by malkin
Johnson

Correction:
Johnston constructed Scales Bootcamp for a purpose which he clearly describes in the book.
and SPOILER #2: Increasing speed is also NOT his stated purpose.


Enough is as good as a feast.

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: malkin] #2738603
05/22/18 07:39 AM
05/22/18 07:39 AM
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Tyrone Slothrop Online content OP
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Originally Posted by malkin
Johnson constructed Scales Bootcamp for a purpose which he clearly describes in the book.
SPOILER: Playing 25 scales in 3 minutes is NOT his purpose.

I've found these three statements from the book which seem relevant to his purpose for the book:
Quote
Helping you master scales so you know them for life. As sure as you know the alphabet, your times tables, your birthday. To get you there, we've borrowed from computer game design, stolen from Practiceopedia (see the "Boot Camp" entry), and packed this book with Challenges to complete for each new scale, giving your scales practice, a purpose.

Quote
Fanatical attention to the scales you'll actually use. Instead of being a museum of every scale ever invented, Scales Bootcamp is about getting you very good at the scales you'll work with most often. Majors, harmonic minors and chromatics, taken through the most rigorous combination of drills and challenges, all leading to an extraordinary promise...

Quote
...have to be able to play one hand louder than the other/deliver tricky rhythms with precision/show excellent dynamic control/increase the speed... It's what scales practice should be. Instead of just playing your scales up and down and back again, you're relating them to the sort of challenges that actual repertoire will throw at you. You're also working directly on skills that you need for all your playing.

Is this what you were referring to?

Originally Posted by malkin
Go ahead and express your opinions about scales and anything else (this is the internet, after all), but remember that you'll sound more clever if you hold off on issuing criticism until you have at least a passing familiarity with the object.

Which is why I didn't here and just linked what a piano teacher as said about this. As a beginner, I am coming to this without any ideas about what is right or wrong to do with respect to playing the piano. I would could just as easily be convinced that playing scales would completely screw me up forever. I learn only what I read, and because the Internet is such a big place, and you can probably find any viewpoint one wants if you search hard enough, my "shortcut" is to try to look for stuff written by experienced, credentialed people -- it's not a perfect approach to gathering knowledge, and misses a lot of perfectly valid "alternative" viewpoints, but one only has so many hours in a day.

Last edited by Slothrop, Tyrone; 05/22/18 07:44 AM.

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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738605
05/22/18 07:48 AM
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Tyrone, what does the RCM (or ABRSM) syllabus have the student do as far as scales, at the very earliest level? Since you’re interested in following one of those programs and taking the exams, I would think you would want to follow their recommendations.


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: zrtf90] #2738606
05/22/18 07:54 AM
05/22/18 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by zrtf90

..............
You don't have to play the pieces, necessarily. You might try cycling the preludes (and/or the fugues) of the WTC over 48 days, 48 weeks or 48 months as mood and style indicators that cover all keys (and a wide range of moods). They also serve as great active listening if you have access to recordings or for audiating (reading and hearing them in your head without actually playing) if you have the scores.



While that sounds like a great idea, I'm not sure I have enough time left to learn all 48! At least I've got C maj (Prelude only) under my belt! Just wondering, also, if you feel the Chopin Preludes have similar value. I'm sure the Etudes do, but if I understand correctly, they're far more advanced.


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738614
05/22/18 08:29 AM
05/22/18 08:29 AM
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I think scales are a great tool when done correctly. For those just learning scales, it is best to not play them fast, as others have already stated, but focus on accurate fingering and comfort. A little goes a long way with scales, so just 1 scale focused on per week (i.e., F major scale, one octave up and back down), played once, maybe twice if needed, and then you're done for the day. Repeat this every day.

The focus should be on being able to "see" the notes of the scale before you play them so there's no hesitation, no having to think, "What are the sharps in this key again?" or "What finger goes next?", or have any excess tension. Playing scales quickly will come in time - maybe after a year or two. Slow practice is paramount.

Last edited by Morodiene; 05/22/18 08:31 AM.

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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738615
05/22/18 08:35 AM
05/22/18 08:35 AM
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You don't need to learn all 48, Craig! Listen to a professional recording of the Prelude (and/or the Fugue) on the Monday and use that mood for the scale during the week. Associate that scale with that mood. You can learn a few bars of the Prelude, just one hand if you like, to get a more personal feel of the key or mood. You might take the subject of the fugue and just listen to what Bach does with it. It will increase your acquaintance with one of the two greatest collections (along with Beethoven's 32 sonatas) of piano music we have.

The 48 should be on most of our horizons so extra acquaintance does no harm. You'll soon learn which ones are attainable and which ones aren't even doing just a few bars with one hand alone. But audiating them without playing is enough.

Chopin's Preludes are another great resource - all keys and a wide variety of moods. Few of us will ever learn all of those but, once again, just studying the text one hand at a time will increase your familiarity with very important works in the piano canon. His Etudes are for advanced technical proficiency and that's not the point of this exercise.

You could also compile a list of 24 Symphonies or Concertos that cover all keys. You need to widen your knowledge and familiarity with our musical heritage and you need to associate a scale to a mood (or several moods) to avoid them becoming mechanical or without musical purpose.

If you want something to play you might investigate Hummel's Preludes Op. 67.


Richard
Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: PianoStudent88] #2738617
05/22/18 08:45 AM
05/22/18 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
Tyrone, what does the RCM (or ABRSM) syllabus have the student do as far as scales, at the very earliest level? Since you’re interested in following one of those programs and taking the exams, I would think you would want to follow their recommendations.


You can find this in the RCM syllabus. I'm sure there is one for ABRSM. You'll start with 5 finger patterns, then scales hands separate, then together. I'm not sure if the "bootcamp" idea is good, no need to learn them all at once. You have plenty of time. One teacher told me to play them slow, with my eyes closed (see the scale in your head) and listen to the sound. Make sure your thumbs don't hammer down on the keys.


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: PianoStudent88] #2738659
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
Tyrone, what does the RCM (or ABRSM) syllabus have the student do as far as scales, at the very earliest level? Since you’re interested in following one of those programs and taking the exams, I would think you would want to follow their recommendations.

Good question. I had no idea so I checked the current RCM syllabus found online and see on page 16 that full octave scales start at the 'Preparatory B' level (one octave), progress to 2-octave for Level 1, major and minor keys by level 2, hands-together by level 3, more keys in level 4, 4-octave in level 8, etc. I don't know about ABRSM or even how to check.

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
You can find this in the RCM syllabus. I'm sure there is one for ABRSM. You'll start with 5 finger patterns, then scales hands separate, then together. I'm not sure if the "bootcamp" idea is good, no need to learn them all at once. You have plenty of time.

Main thing, which I will take to heart, is that scales were never intended to be learned all at once, but add to other musical practices over the course of training. Based on reviewing this RCM syllabus, it now occurs to me that this Johnston book was not even meant for complete newbies like me but probably for people at more the intermediate level of piano since some of the things in it are only in the RCM syllabus at intermediate or higher level (4-octave scales at Level 8, for example).

Last edited by Slothrop, Tyrone; 05/22/18 01:11 PM.

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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: malkin] #2738665
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Originally Posted by malkin
Johnson constructed Scales Bootcamp for a purpose which he clearly describes in the book.
SPOILER: Playing 25 scales in 3 minutes is NOT his purpose.

Go ahead and express your opinions about scales and anything else (this is the internet, after all), but remember that you'll sound more clever if you hold off on issuing criticism until you have at least a passing familiarity with the object.

As someone who used The Scales Bootcamp successfully. I highly recommend it. Of all the Scale books out there, I feel like the Bootcamp was the one of the only books that gave any sort of practical guidance on how learn and master scales. And it is very thorough, covering more technical and musical exercises than you’ll probably ever need. I also emailed him a few times with different questions and he responded very quickly.

Having also used ”Practiceopedia” and “The Practice Revolution”; I have a high regard for Philip Johnston’s teaching abilities. His books are clear, practical and very thorough. (yes, I’m just a satisfied customer)


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738670
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I can't really comment on the scales bootcamp book, but the following worked for me. Although my first teacher started me with 5 finger patterns, all keys (major/minor) following circle of 5ths, before starting scales.

https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Scales-Chords-Arpeggios-Cadences/dp/0739003682


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738674
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Assesssing if you’re ready for the Scales Bootcamp is something you have to figure out, but he does grade the Scales by difficulty so you have a sense of which Scales are easier/harder for students to learn (according to his teaching experience). It’s another useful strategy he provides for learning the scales.


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738675
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Originally Posted by Slothrop, Tyrone
Main thing, which I will take to heart, is that scales were never intended to be learned all at once, but add to other musical practices over the course of training. Based on reviewing this RCM syllabus, it now occurs to me that this Johnston book was not even meant for complete newbies like me but probably for people at more the intermediate level of piano since some of the things in it are only in the RCM syllabus at intermediate or higher level (4-octave scales at Level 8, for example).

Even that may lead you in the wrong direction. A teacher might have a student start 4-octave scales at an earlier level than level 8, even though RCM doesn't test them until level 8. Don't assume that a test system's levels are the last word on what order to introduce things, or what kind of preparation to lay earlier for harder skills later, etc.

Giving experienced guidance regarding what to study in what order, and with personalized tailoring and corrections, is among the ways a teacher can be useful to a piano student.


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738676
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the main thing I think is important , is that play scales slowly, and learn to control the movement, then work with tempo... also, ....

Knowing how to play your scales is one thing, but also knowing by heart all of the notes in the scale and distance between root note, and intervals of the scale

that way when you learn about chords say a major triads, if you know in major key that is 1,3, 5,
4,6 and 1
5 7 and 2 then you kinda how to identify chords

You could even take it step further when learning a song from a music score, study the melody and see all the intervals and develop your ears as well AND analyze the chords for that scale/key...

Last edited by Jitin; 05/22/18 01:57 PM.

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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738679
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Imo there are two major things to learn about scales: 1. How to physically play them clear and smooth without tension (especially the thumb under/over and difference in playing slower and fast) and 2. How to construct and finger any major/minor scale from scratch. The rest is optional...The latter one can learn from books but the former might be tricky without a hands on teacher.

Drilling scales without knowing what you are doing just aiming for speed I see as useless activity...

Btw. Since I do not have absolute pitch all major and minor scales sound (almost) the same the me. So for listening purposes there's little need to learn them all...

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738682
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I like both the "Scales Bootcamp" by Philip Johnston & "The Complete Book of Scales, Chords, Arpeggios & Cadences" from Alfred:

- The Alfred book is packed with content.

- The Johnston book is packed with an intuitive learning system, an enjoyable variety of practice routines, and a system to track one's progress.

The books complement each other (along with my teachers' guidance, especially relating to technique and mechanics which are not the focus of those books).

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738689
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I did not read Philip Johnston Scales Bootcamp. I have another book of his. However, I did want to mention why scales benefited me.

When I see a piece of music written in say A-flat major, my mind automatically maps out which keys are on the scale and which keys are not. Even with accidentals – say a natural somewhere – I'm still very clear that I am stepping slightly off the path, but I can center myself back onto the notes of the scale.

I feel that scales practice helped me immensely with that mind map. The advantage is not so obvious when working in C major, F major, or G major, but the benefits of scales became much clearer when the key signature showed more sharps or flats.

Last edited by MomOfBeginners; 05/22/18 02:58 PM.

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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738737
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I love this discussion!

To sum up:
1. The OP, an abject beginner asks if scales go down as well as up.
2. A scale practice source is criticized because incorrect practice of its contents could lead to injury.
3. Rather than practicing scales, it is suggested that practicing Bach WTC would be useful. Or maybe Chopin Preludes.


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: zrtf90] #2738742
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Originally Posted by zrtf90
Originally Posted by Iarolslav Vasiliev
Before that zrtf90 had written that by playing scales a student learns to listen to his playing very carefully...
I'm flattered that you've learnt something from me and remembered the source but I'm sorry if I wrote that...let me correct it here:

By listening very carefully to his scales a student learns to play. smile

I have said that scales are ear training more than finger training.

zrtf90, you've broken my heart. smile

I thought you had been talking about learning to listen to musical nuances in one's playing, about learning to identify the slightest disturbances in rhythm and dynamics. That's what is most important in my opinion.

Ear training is not that interesting. There are exercises for ear training that are much more efficient than scales.

Originally Posted by zrtf90

scales don't need mental involvement for velocity, just procedural memory (and a good book to read while we're practising).

I totally disagree with this.

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: malkin] #2738743
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Originally Posted by malkin
I love this discussion!

To sum up:
1. The OP, an abject beginner asks if scales go down as well as up.
2. A scale practice source is criticized because incorrect practice of its contents could lead to injury.
3. Rather than practicing scales, it is suggested that practicing Bach WTC would be useful. Or maybe Chopin Preludes.

Sir, in this statement, I only object to your choice of the modifier, abject, as it is insulting.

Other than that, I do think it is an interesting discussion. I could hardly have expected such a rich discussion when I asked what I thought was a simple question of if scales are finished when you reach the highest note or if you have to return to the starting position. It's almost just a true/false question. However, I feel I've gained from the various responses, although I don't know if all of the comments are consistent with the other information I've found via googling, so of course I will be picking what I use. That said, I especially think the warnings to be careful in doing such repetitive exercises to avoid physical injuries will not go unheeded here. I even find your comments on this thread interesting as it gives insight into your thought processes and I always find it interesting to discover how different people reason about things.

Last edited by Slothrop, Tyrone; 05/22/18 07:43 PM.

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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: outo] #2738744
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Hi all - this is Philip Johnston; I'm the author of Scales Bootcamp. There's been some strong opinions expressed in this thread by people who are unfamiliar with the book, figured I had a right of reply smile

Scales Bootcamp was designed to be a hard counter to mindless up-and-down-rep-based scales practice.

There is huge variation in the over 4,500, unique bite-sized challenges that Scales Bootcamp sets. The message is always 'you think you know this scale? Really? Ok, let's see you try this..."

In this way, the book is designed to power years of never-the-same-twice scales practice. The easiest challenges can be handled by absolute beginners; the most difficult will seriously test their teachers.

Just some of the different elements being tested:

• Left Hand alone/Right Hand alone/hands together
• Challenges at all tempos, from glacially slow to extremes of fast passagework
• Staccato/legato/accents/varied articulations/chaotically mixed articulations/dead even passagework
• Entirely free rhythmless playthroughs/ challenges locked to a metronome
• Pianissimo/fortissimo/crescendos and diminuendos/balance drills (LH is loud while RH is quiet and vice versa)
• Scales in different rhythms, varied intervals between hands, different ratios of notes between the hands (2 against 1, 3 against 2 etc.), scales commencing on different scale degrees
• Scales as individual notes/scales played in clusters
• Eyes open, eyes closed, tabletop scales (fingering only, no piano),
• Partial scales, single octave scales, right through to scales that cover the entire keyboard
• Sudden death challenges (must be right first time)/time limited challenges/metronome challenges/marathon challenges that distribute many reps across many days/challenges in front of audiences
• Different scales in each hand at the same time/parallel motion/contrary motion/with the score, from memory…
• Challenges that require working with actual repertoire in that key

And yes, somewhere in the mix, the much-maligned-in-this-thread challenge to play the scale 25 times in 3 minutes. (People! Please don't make this the headline for this book! And actually try it before you dismiss it as an RSI trap...a gentle 65bpm, sixteenth notes will get you there with plenty of time)

Read through the reviews at Amazon; happy to field any questions.

Philip Johnston
philipjohnston.studio

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738752
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Philip, sounds like an interesting book, written by one who has felt the need to do more that was available on the market. I can appreciate that. I like creating my own exercises and there have been times (both in piano and in other disciplines) when the study guide I was looking for didn't exist, so I created it.

Malkin, this is what a discussion on an Internet forum looks like. A topic was opened and it was explored and discussed beyond the initial question. Just like a real life conversation. People expressed opinions and contributed, and others can take from it what they wish. I learned a few things. Hopefully the OP did also.

Anyway on a different note it's when innocuous topics turn contentious that I find annoying. That hasn't occurred here, just a discussion. I do, though, find the summary light and humorous as probably intended! :cheers:


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738767
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I thought you had been talking about learning to listen to musical nuances in one's playing, about learning to identify the slightest disturbances in rhythm and dynamics. That's what is most important in my opinion.
Yes, learning to listen like that is ear training. It seems I've been unclear.

Unlike the organ, the piano is touch sensitive. This isn't an add-on feature for advanced pianists - it's an obligation that the rank beginner has to master at the outset. The piano offers no control over tone once a key has been struck. When two notes are sounded in succession the only control the pianist has is the timing of the second note and its dynamic level.
The music has to be heard first in the imagination and the playing mechanism must then respond appropriately in order to realise it.
That response takes training in order to adjust the dynamic level of the second note correctly against the decaying sound of the first.

With a piece of music there are accents, changes of pitch and rhythm; it's difficult to hear uneveness clearly. With a scale the notes are clear and distinct and the slightest disturbances in time or tone are easier to hear. By hearing these disturbances the brain is able to make minute adjustments to the playing mechanism and get ever closer to that string of pearly notes with even time and even tone.

When this control has been achieved it's easier to then use this skill in the careful phrasing of our pieces.

I wasn't advocating practising scales while reading a book, as Charles Rosen suggested. I was saying that using scales for velocity was equally pointless - I didn't word it well. Velocity comes from control, control over the hands, over the fingers, between brain and fingers (via the whole body) and knowing what's coming and preparing mentally for it. It's not about training the muscles. Scales don't train look ahead. It's easy to play them fast with muscle memory but that doesn't transfer to pieces. Scales don't really help velocity - except for playing scales fast.

Originally Posted by malkin
3. Rather than practicing scales, it is suggested that practicing Bach WTC would be useful. Or maybe Chopin Preludes.

I don't know if you're being tongue in cheek or if my post was misleading but I suggested that scales and arpeggios be practised in the style of the music to be studied, and not without a musical context. I suggested that 'The 48' could provide that context as an excellent source of moods and styles in all keys without having to actually play them. smile

In the past I have been very specific that beginners shouldn't practise scales without direct supervision. There are far more important things to cover first but as we were discussing scales...


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Iaroslav Vasiliev] #2738794
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev


Originally Posted by zrtf90

scales don't need mental involvement for velocity, just procedural memory (and a good book to read while we're practising).

I totally disagree with this.


Me too but it was already suggested that people are different. Obviously we are. Repetitive exercises requite very strict mental focus for me. The simpler the task the more difficult it is for me to do without focusing...

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Philip_Johnston] #2738809
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Originally Posted by Philip_Johnston
.....happy to field any questions.

Philip, I'm glad to see you here. There is no way to get a real picture of what is going on through this thread, or through what I could find by googling it. I'm not about to buy the book just for a forum discussion. wink

So here is my concern:
In short order, the physical side of playing scales. When I was on my own without a teacher, even being careful, I came close to injuring myself, and while I escaped that, it has still taken ages to undo the habits that formed. So....

- Do you address the physical side of playing scales in the book?
- Would you recommend that students use the book along with the advice of a teacher? (I seem to remember that some of your earlier books, which I quite liked, were actually aimed at teachers, to give them new ideas and approaches?)

I am concerned about a beginner who has not ever had instructions in the physical side of playing, and who loves to be challenged, tackling the exercise that was mentioned, and how he might tackle them. Do you have some precautions in the book with the self-teaching student kept in mind?

I think that in my perusals of the Internet I've run across videos put out by method books showing some of the technique which sort of supports the playing of the material.

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: zrtf90] #2738849
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Originally Posted by zrtf90
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I thought you had been talking about learning to listen to musical nuances in one's playing, about learning to identify the slightest disturbances in rhythm and dynamics. That's what is most important in my opinion.
Yes, learning to listen like that is ear training. It seems I've been unclear.

The music has to be heard first in the imagination and the playing mechanism must then respond appropriately in order to realise it.


zrtf90, I love you again. smile That phrase in bold font is what I've been advocating for quite a long time here on the forums. Indeed we need to imagine a scale at first and only then play it, comparing every note or group of notes to our perfect mental aural image. This training of aural imagination and aural comparison is crucial.

Originally Posted by zrtf90
With a piece of music there are accents, changes of pitch and rhythm; it's difficult to hear uneveness clearly. With a scale the notes are clear and distinct and the slightest disturbances in time or tone are easier to hear.

Yes, exactly, this is imo why it's best to develop the listening skills using the scales.

But this is only true for scales in slow and medium tempo. As the tempo increases it becomes more and more difficult to hear and identify disturbances. And at a very fast tempo it's a task of extreme difficulty. Sometimes at a fast tempo, when I feel that there is a problem, I need to play a scale for up to 5-6 times before I can identify what precisely is wrong with it. I've been playing piano for decades and it's still a problem for me. It's a real challenge for the listening skills and a real training. Besides, consider the fact that a scale deteriorates after just a few days without practice.

Originally Posted by zrtf90
I wasn't advocating practising scales while reading a book, as Charles Rosen suggested. I was saying that using scales for velocity was equally pointless - I didn't word it well. Velocity comes from control, control over the hands, over the fingers, between brain and fingers (via the whole body) and knowing what's coming and preparing mentally for it. It's not about training the muscles. Scales don't train look ahead. It's easy to play them fast with muscle memory but that doesn't transfer to pieces. Scales don't really help velocity - except for playing scales fast.

It's hard to argue with your last sentence. wink
Those are different things. When you play scales slowly, especially when raising your fingers very high, you train control and strength. When you play faster you train dexterity. Scales are probably the most traditional way to develop finger dexterity. The real work on scales begins far beyond the basic tempo. And if a student doesn't try to keep it slow intentionally, the tempo of scales will increase with practice month after month. The muscle memory for scales indeed transfer only to scales and scale-like fragments within pieces, but the overall increase in control and dexterity imo affects everything.

Concerning the practice indeed it may be easy to play scales using only your muscle memory, but such practice is absolutely useless. Scales should at all times be played artistically and creatively, with different accents, crescendo or diminuendo, and bearing the scale endpoint in the mind. (I suppose Philip Johnston's book is mostly about that.) And that requires a full involvement of the mind, an aural imagination and a great concentration. It's a great exercise primarily for the mind. It develops both the speed of thinking and the "musical will" that I mentioned earlier.

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738878
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No insult intended. I was thinking along the lines of "lowly" or "humble" and applying the adj. to "beginner" rather than to you personally. The "cast aside" etymology sort seems to fit too, not to imply that a beginner has been deliberately tossed out on the rubbish heap, but instead that the sincere beginner is casting about looking for direction and is possibly blown about by every wind.

Anyway, exaggeration and cheek all around, but possibly not quite enough since it didn't come across clearly. Cheers.


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: malkin] #2738888
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Originally Posted by malkin
No insult intended. I was thinking along the lines of "lowly" or "humble" and applying the adj. to "beginner" rather than to you personally. The "cast aside" etymology sort seems to fit too, not to imply that a beginner has been deliberately tossed out on the rubbish heap, but instead that the sincere beginner is casting about looking for direction and is possibly blown about by every wind.

Aha! "Lowly beginner". Well, I am certainly that. Understood. I withdraw my complaint.

Originally Posted by malkin
Anyway, exaggeration and cheek all around, but possibly not quite enough since it didn't come across clearly. Cheers.

I think I was stewing over 'abject' and the fog clouded my vision but subsequent posters definitely caught and appreciated your cheek and now that my vision has cleared, I think I do too! wink

Last edited by Slothrop, Tyrone; 05/23/18 09:07 AM.

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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738890
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yeahhh.....I get myself into trouble with cheeky remarks and wit / sarcasm on the internet all the time; sometimes it doesn't come out as intended (eg the username thread accent comment)


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738895
05/23/18 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Slothrop, Tyrone
Thanks for the comments. Philip Johnston just wrote to me and said that the scales always go up and back down again and no scale is completed without returning to the starting position, so my original question is answered.

Actually, your "newbie" question deserves some thought.

Off the top of my head I can't remember anyone playing scales down first, then back up.

So people who play in both directions - which should be everyone - don't think about this.

Both hands play faster and more smoothly starting away from the body and then coming "in". This means that the RH plays better coming "down", and the LH plays better going "up".

The practical result is that it is much easier for righties to play both hands moving to the right, which from the start is a problem.

I always start down first, then go back up. I recommend this to my righties with the caveat that going in the usual direction first is probably best for lefties.

If you think about it, people who play the traditional melodic minor scale need to come back down with natural minor, since that is what melodic minor does, the traditional variety. In actually playing we go down harmonic minor and up melodic about 95% of the time, which means that to get this in the hands you want to at least go down first 50% of the time. And so on.

Other than that, scales go down as often as they go up, so both directions are equally important.


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Philip_Johnston] #2738898
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Originally Posted by Philip_Johnston
Hi all - this is Philip Johnston; I'm the author of Scales Bootcamp. There's been some strong opinions expressed in this thread by people who are unfamiliar with the book, figured I had a right of reply smile

Scales Bootcamp was designed to be a hard counter to mindless up-and-down-rep-based scales practice.

There is huge variation in the over 4,500, unique bite-sized challenges that Scales Bootcamp sets. The message is always 'you think you know this scale? Really? Ok, let's see you try this..."

In this way, the book is designed to power years of never-the-same-twice scales practice. The easiest challenges can be handled by absolute beginners; the most difficult will seriously test their teachers.

Just some of the different elements being tested:

• Left Hand alone/Right Hand alone/hands together
• Challenges at all tempos, from glacially slow to extremes of fast passagework
• Staccato/legato/accents/varied articulations/chaotically mixed articulations/dead even passagework
• Entirely free rhythmless playthroughs/ challenges locked to a metronome
• Pianissimo/fortissimo/crescendos and diminuendos/balance drills (LH is loud while RH is quiet and vice versa)
• Scales in different rhythms, varied intervals between hands, different ratios of notes between the hands (2 against 1, 3 against 2 etc.), scales commencing on different scale degrees
• Scales as individual notes/scales played in clusters
• Eyes open, eyes closed, tabletop scales (fingering only, no piano),
• Partial scales, single octave scales, right through to scales that cover the entire keyboard
• Sudden death challenges (must be right first time)/time limited challenges/metronome challenges/marathon challenges that distribute many reps across many days/challenges in front of audiences
• Different scales in each hand at the same time/parallel motion/contrary motion/with the score, from memory…
• Challenges that require working with actual repertoire in that key

And yes, somewhere in the mix, the much-maligned-in-this-thread challenge to play the scale 25 times in 3 minutes. (People! Please don't make this the headline for this book! And actually try it before you dismiss it as an RSI trap...a gentle 65bpm, sixteenth notes will get you there with plenty of time)

Read through the reviews at Amazon; happy to field any questions.

Philip Johnston
philipjohnston.studio

Philip, what about the problem of hands separate fingerings vs hands together fingering?

An example: key of D major, left hand thumb goes on A and D in any traditional D scale that starts on the tonic, but we never use that fingering in passage work, where the thumb usually moves to E and B.


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Gary D.] #2738908
05/23/18 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.


I always start down first, then go back up. I recommend this to my righties with the caveat that going in the usual direction first is probably best for lefties.



I like that suggestion. I noticed that my kids have more trouble going down than going up, and I've often asked them to start high, go down, and then come back up again. Often, even when they start at the top and go down, then back up, when they get to the top, they go back down again and end at the bottom.


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2738934
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Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by zrtf90
scales don't need mental involvement for velocity, just procedural memory (and a good book to read while we're practising).

I totally disagree with this.

Me too...Repetitive exercises requite very strict mental focus for me. The simpler the task the more difficult it is for me to do without focusing...
Still more clearing up required.

The point of that sentence, in context, was not that scales don't need focus but that they don't need focus for velocity, i.e. we can learn to play them faster without mental involvement using just procedural memory - which doesn't help absolute velocity at all, or scale playing for that matter.

Originally Posted by Gary D.
An example: key of D major, left hand thumb goes on A and D in any traditional D scale that starts on the tonic, but we never use that fingering in passage work, where the thumb usually moves to E and B.
We've covered this before but I use Natural Fingering, favoured by Chopin, Neuhaus, et al, which puts LH 4th on F# in G, D and A Majors and on Bb in F Major.

Though I'd be interested in what the Bootcamp book says about natural fingering - and how or whether scale fingering is taught or introduced.


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: zrtf90] #2738946
05/23/18 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by zrtf90
Though I'd be interested in what the Bootcamp book says about natural fingering - and how or whether scale fingering is taught or introduced.


Brief intro videos...

https://vimeo.com/47792970
https://vimeo.com/47792971
https://vimeo.com/47792972

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: newer player] #2738957
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Originally Posted by newer player

"Scales like F# major cause no end of problems...." (?)

There are three "black note scales: F# (Gb) major, B major, Db major. They use all the black piano keys. We have three long fingers, which fit best on the three black keys. Immediately, that topography tells your fingers where to go. There are quite a few teacher who begin with Db, B, or F# major (esp. the first two) because this is also easiest for a natural hand (shape).

When I started out, I did use the (group of 4 + group of 3) formula. Later on I discovered some weaknesses to this approach, especially when you play a scale starting on a note other than the Tonic note.

When I listened to the first video, it seemed to be talking to teachers. If it's geared to teachers, then those teachers would be teaching the physical aspects of playing (my original question to the author), and those teachers would also use their judgment in:
a) which exercises to assign
b) how they want their students to approach those exercises
c) teaching the physical motions involved first.

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: zrtf90] #2739261
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Originally Posted by zrtf90
We've covered this before but I use Natural Fingering, favoured by Chopin, Neuhaus, et al, which puts LH 4th on F# in G, D and A Majors and on Bb in F Major.

Though I'd be interested in what the Bootcamp book says about natural fingering - and how or whether scale fingering is taught or introduced.


So called "natural fingering", just like the traditional fingerings taught, have limitations. You need both to play well.


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Philip_Johnston] #2739275
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Originally Posted by Philip_Johnston
happy to field any questions.

I took this seriously, so I asked some questions. Was it meant seriously?

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2739292
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Valid questions, Keystring, we'll see


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2739336
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What about chromatic scales? I've been taught the standard (starting on C), 1,3,1,3,1,2,3,1,3,1,3,1,2 ... etc.

While learning Sonatina In F Major (Anh. 5, No. 2, Second Movement - Rondo), I came across a small chromatic scale run there where at first I wanted to use the above. The book had different fingering 1 (C),2,3,4,1,2,3,1,2,3,4,1,2 (C)

I've gone back and forth between the two and in the end decided to go with the book's fingering (making use of 4). I feel I can play it cleaner this way. If I were to continue this to the second octave, it would have different fingering compared to the first octave, but the thumb would come back to C at the start of the third octave. So a 2 octave fingering would like this if I were to extrapolate, but would anyone really use this fingering?

1 (C1),2,3,4,1,2,3,1,2,3,4,1,2 (C2),3,1,2,3,1,2,3,4,1,2,3,1 (C3)


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: keystring] #2739338
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Philip_Johnston
happy to field any questions.

I took this seriously, so I asked some questions. Was it meant seriously?



I think he responds through his website.


Enough is as good as a feast.

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2739484
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Originally Posted by newer player
Brief intro videos...
Thanks for the links. That was what I suspected.

Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
What about chromatic scales? I've been taught the standard (starting on C), 1,3,1,3,1,2
There are a number of alternatives for chromatic scales. This is the French system.

The one using 4 could be the Thalberg version if it's over two octaves. There's a German version using the 4th finger and the English or mixed version. Liszt's fingering uses 5 also.

Using more thumb crossings is better for clarity, fewer is better for speed.


Richard
Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: bSharp(C)yclist] #2739488
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Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
What about chromatic scales? I've been taught the standard (starting on C), 1,3,1,3,1,2,3,1,3,1,3,1,2 ... etc.

This is standard. It always works, but it's the slowest fingering.

While learning Sonatina In F Major (Anh. 5, No. 2, Second Movement - Rondo), I came across a small chromatic scale run there where at first I wanted to use the above. The book had different fingering 1 (C),2,3,4,1,2,3,1,2,3,4,1,2 (C)
Quote

If you think about it, this puts the thumb on every other white note. It's the fastest possible fingering that does not use 5, and you can finish a scale with 5, like F, F#, G, G#, A. 1 2 3 4 5.
[quote]

I've gone back and forth between the two and in the end decided to go with the book's fingering (making use of 4). I feel I can play it cleaner this way. If I were to continue this to the second octave, it would have different fingering compared to the first octave, but the thumb would come back to C at the start of the third octave. So a 2 octave fingering would like this if I were to extrapolate, but would anyone really use this fingering?

1 (C1),2,3,4,1,2,3,1,2,3,4,1,2 (C2),3,1,2,3,1,2,3,4,1,2,3,1 (C3)

I use it all the time for passage work...


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: malkin] #2739490
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Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Philip_Johnston
happy to field any questions.

I took this seriously, so I asked some questions. Was it meant seriously?


I think he responds through his website.

In that case I wasted my time writing here. And those questions remain open here. Let's hope that is not the case. smile

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2739497
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I have to again say that from a very humble beginning (of asking a naive question on playing scale exercises) this thread has really taken a life of its own and I've learned so much about scales now and fingering. GaryD's comment about fingering changes from the fingering in chromatic scale exercises because of the need for greater speed makes incredible sense, but I might not have come to these ideas without reading about them here. There there is the idea I read here that the three longest fingers are for black keys, discussions about natural fingering, etc. There have been so many interesting ideas in just this one thread. Frankly, many of these are beyond my humble level right now, but some I may be able to use soon!

Last edited by Slothrop, Tyrone; 05/25/18 05:50 PM.

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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2739498
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zrtf90, when you write “using 4” do you mean 1,2,3,4, thumb under, 1,2,3,, etc? Like a beginner (me) learned the F major? I’m just getting into these other fingerings.


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2739521
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Originally Posted by monkeeys
zrtf90, when you write “using 4” do you mean 1,2,3,4, thumb under, 1,2,3,, etc?
Yes. The most common pattern is 1 on the white keys, 3 on the the black keys and 2 on F and C (RH).

The Thalberg fingering uses the regular diatonic scale pattern 123, 1234 beginning on D or E and it repeates over two octaves. The English pattern uses 13, 123, 1234, 123 beginning on D (4th on A#/Bb) and is the same each octave. The one in the Beethoven sonatina starts with a group of four and thereafter could be the Thalberg or the English system.


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: keystring] #2739533
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Philip_Johnston
happy to field any questions.

I took this seriously, so I asked some questions. Was it meant seriously?


I think he responds through his website.

In that case I wasted my time writing here. And those questions remain open here. Let's hope that is not the case. smile


How long would it take you to copy and paste your questions to his web site?
Such a waste of (what?) 60 seconds?

Contact him here:

http://insidemusicteaching.com/contact/


Enough is as good as a feast.

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: malkin] #2739534
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Originally Posted by malkin

How long would it take you to copy and paste your questions to his web site?
Such a waste of (what?) 60 seconds?


I may not have been clear. There is a discussion here, on PianoWorld, and the gentleman has posted here, in response. It doesn't do anybody here any good for the discussion to be brought over to that web-site. When he said he was ready to answer questions, while writing in this forum, I naturally assumed he would be responding here. I know that people get busy, so I'll wait a bit for that to response to come. I took the offer in good faith.

To answer about "waste of time": If someone offers to answer questions, and one spends time writing out some questions, and there will be no answer, then that is time wasted asking the questions. smile

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2739541
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Just answering an earlier question about how far being self taught can take you:

I'm a big fan of self-powered learning—YouTube means you can effectively sit in on thousands of lessons, and you can learn a lot from the right books. However videos and books cannot see you, and will not warn you if your technique is heading in a self-limiting or dangerous direction.

In short, there's no substitute for actually sitting with an expert who can give you feedback. I don't advocate being completely self taught for piano any more than I would being self taught for martial arts or dentistry.

Whether you need traditional weekly lessons though is a different story. If your preference is to be self taught, then one workable path might be to have a mentor that you meet with every month or two, and then lets you work independently in the meantime.

With all this in mind, when I was writing Scales Bootcamp, my assumption was that the person using it would have a teacher somewhere in their self-improvement chain. Otherwise, all those hours of work might actually be simply cementing a bad technical approach to playing that will prove very, very hard to undo later.

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Philip_Johnston] #2739585
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Philip, perfect! Thank you for your well thought out answer. smile
Originally Posted by Philip_Johnston
With all this in mind, when I was writing Scales Bootcamp, my assumption was that the person using it would have a teacher somewhere in their self-improvement chain. Otherwise, all those hours of work might actually be simply cementing a bad technical approach to playing that will prove very, very hard to undo later.

I had thought it might be written for teachers; there were clues. One expects that a decent teacher will be teaching his students how to play, what kind of physical motions to use, and also monitor and guide what is going on. But that teacher might like to have a set of ideas for making the practice of scales interesting, or to reinforce particular things that he has just taught. The 2nd and larger half of any lesson is the practising that the student does at home. I imagine this teacher assigning those exercises from the book that are ideal for this student, after this lesson, at this stage of the student's journey. This imaginary teacher will also "customize" the exercise, by telling the student how he wants it to be practised, hopefully watching how it is being done in the studio, before sending the student home.

For your last sentence: When I first had a piano a few years ago, I could not get a teacher right away. I got the book by Cooke on scales and arpeggios, and practised diligently - and I thought carefully - for about 10 months until I noticed a numbness in one hand. I had followed Cooke's advice to "snap the thumb under", and there was no looseness or flex in my hand or wrist. Once I had a teacher, I started to learn "every joint everywhere must be free to move, with nothing ever locked up", starting with chords where this was easier to access. But because of my diligent first scales practice, it took years to be able to even approach scales, because my hands would habitually go into what they first learned. The task of unlearning and relearning has not been pleasant, and it's made things a lot harder. And I was being careful when I did that damage!

The one book of yours, which I discovered during the self-taught phase, Practiceopedia - this one I think actually can be good for any student, even self-taught. The idea of writing different skills on different paper hats, and practising toward that skill, then another skill, rather than trying to master everything at once - that's a solid idea that can't go wrong.

On the side topic:
Quote
I'm a big fan of self-powered learning—YouTube means you can effectively sit in on thousands of lessons, and you can learn a lot from the right books. However videos and books cannot see you, and will not warn you if your technique is heading in a self-limiting or dangerous direction.

There are variants of on-line learning these days where there is actual feedback from a teacher. This ranges from one-on-one lessons "in real time" (Hangouts is better than Skype) which can be supplemented by sending videos for a more authentic sound, to a "platform" where the teacher makes hundreds of well-crafted lesson videos available for an annual fee, and also gives video feedback to students when they submit their homework. Most of these platforms will also allow students to see the videos and video feedback of other registered fellow students - you can learn a lot from the mistakes and corrections of your peers. It is not always possible to find a good teacher locally. Physical presence, especially for the physical-technical aspect, is always preferably, imho, if you can manage to get a decent teacher.

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: zrtf90] #2813494
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Originally Posted by zrtf90
You don't need to learn all 48, Craig! Listen to a professional recording of the Prelude (and/or the Fugue) on the Monday and use that mood for the scale during the week. Associate that scale with that mood. You can learn a few bars of the Prelude, just one hand if you like, to get a more personal feel of the key or mood. You might take the subject of the fugue and just listen to what Bach does with it. It will increase your acquaintance with one of the two greatest collections (along with Beethoven's 32 sonatas) of piano music we have.

The 48 should be on most of our horizons so extra acquaintance does no harm. You'll soon learn which ones are attainable and which ones aren't even doing just a few bars with one hand alone. But audiating them without playing is enough.

Chopin's Preludes are another great resource - all keys and a wide variety of moods. Few of us will ever learn all of those but, once again, just studying the text one hand at a time will increase your familiarity with very important works in the piano canon. His Etudes are for advanced technical proficiency and that's not the point of this exercise.

You could also compile a list of 24 Symphonies or Concertos that cover all keys. You need to widen your knowledge and familiarity with our musical heritage and you need to associate a scale to a mood (or several moods) to avoid them becoming mechanical or without musical purpose.

If you want something to play you might investigate Hummel's Preludes Op. 67.




Just reread this post and thread, and downloaded that work by Hummel, Op 67.
Seems like a fun exercise, and of manageable length.
Thanks for the recommendation.


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2813593
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Well, nobody's mentioned formula pattern. 😂😂😂


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2813594
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What's better than formula pattern?

Formula pattern with a teacher with a yardstick!


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: ebonykawai] #2813596
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Originally Posted by ebonykawai
Well, nobody's mentioned formula pattern. 😂😂😂

I had asked about that separately! smile


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Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2813598
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02/11/19 01:58 PM
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Posts: 768
Niagara Falls NY
ebonykawai Offline
500 Post Club Member
ebonykawai  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 768
Niagara Falls NY
😂😂😂 I'm dying, this thread killed me!


Currently working at RCM level 5
Kawai UST-9, Yamaha CLP565GP, Kawai KDP110

"Sometimes I can only groan, and suffer, and pour out my despair at the piano!" - Frederic Chopin
Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2813599
02/11/19 01:59 PM
02/11/19 01:59 PM
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 768
Niagara Falls NY
ebonykawai Offline
500 Post Club Member
ebonykawai  Offline
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 768
Niagara Falls NY
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by ebonykawai
Well, nobody's mentioned formula pattern. 😂😂😂

I had asked about that separately! smile


Ask quickly and then leave town!!!


Currently working at RCM level 5
Kawai UST-9, Yamaha CLP565GP, Kawai KDP110

"Sometimes I can only groan, and suffer, and pour out my despair at the piano!" - Frederic Chopin
Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2813994
02/12/19 09:22 AM
02/12/19 09:22 AM
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 48
Central PA
S
spartan928 Offline
Full Member
spartan928  Offline
Full Member
S

Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 48
Central PA
Hey Tyrone, interesting how many varied and passionate opinions there can be about scales huh? I take private lessons and scales, arpeggios and cadences are part of every lesson each week. Is it a bit of a grind to work on them? Yeah, but after nearly a year I see a lot of value and utility derived from working on at minimum all major/minor scales, including 1-4-5 cadences, inversions and arpeggios as I practice the scales.

I plan to participate in guild auditions so that is part of the structure, but to me scale work is very focused and provides some intellectual and physical structure that carries over into learning pieces. I have found scale work, just 10 min a day, has helped me to establish a better theoretical ground so I can more intuitively approach a piece whatever key it is in. I "see" chords" in the score more quickly and it helps reading and absorbing the piece as I begin diving into it. Just my two additional cents in a fifty dollar pot.

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2814012
02/12/19 10:08 AM
02/12/19 10:08 AM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 2,069
Florida
cmb13 Online content
Silver Level
cmb13  Online Content
Silver Level

Joined: May 2013
Posts: 2,069
Florida
Good comments, Spartan. What are guild auditions? How long have you been playing? Takes a long time to learn all scales, Major and minor and 4-5-1 cadences, inversions and arpeggios! Do you do the cadences on the minors as well?


Boston 118 PE

Working On
Chopin Nocturne 72.1
Bach Goldberg Aria
Bach WTC Prelude D min
Piazzolla Invierno Porteno
Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: cmb13] #2814112
02/12/19 02:19 PM
02/12/19 02:19 PM
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 48
Central PA
S
spartan928 Offline
Full Member
spartan928  Offline
Full Member
S

Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 48
Central PA
Originally Posted by cmb13
Good comments, Spartan. What are guild auditions? How long have you been playing? Takes a long time to learn all scales, Major and minor and 4-5-1 cadences, inversions and arpeggios! Do you do the cadences on the minors as well?


The National Guild of Piano teachers hold auditions annually all over the US. I've been taking lessons since March 2018. The guild auditions are judged individually and you get a report card and certificate. Scores are really for constructive criticism non-competitive. My teacher enters students at a certain grade level wherever they are at and the level dictates what you need to perform. The Guild program is interesting as they have not only preparatory levels geared mainly toward kids through high school, but hobbyist, jazz, social programs etc. Their levels are Elementary A-F, Intermediate A-F, Preparatory A-D and lastly Diploma. My teacher put no pressure on my to enter but I wanted to and it's kind of cool but I have to have 7 pieces ready from memory by May! I have 4 of 7 down pat so I should be OK.

Also, within these levels the teacher chooses a classification (pledge, local, district, national) and the only differences between these are the number of pieces from memory. For example, I am entering for national and have to do 10 pieces from memory. However, scales, cadences and arpeggios count as three of the 10. I'm entering as Elementary F, so I have to do major scales, harmonic minor scales, hands separate two octaves, 1-4-5 cadence root scale position (major and minor) and one-handed arpeggios 2 octaves (hand separate). Don't have to play inversions at this level. Also, S/A/C only for the keys of the 7 pieces I am playing not all 12. The pieces I get to pick with my teacher must be at least one from each era; Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern.

Sorry, didn't mean to hijack the thread for Guild information lol, but you asked!

Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2814147
02/12/19 03:28 PM
02/12/19 03:28 PM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 2,069
Florida
cmb13 Online content
Silver Level
cmb13  Online Content
Silver Level

Joined: May 2013
Posts: 2,069
Florida
Glad I did - thanks for the info -
Now back to your program...


Boston 118 PE

Working On
Chopin Nocturne 72.1
Bach Goldberg Aria
Bach WTC Prelude D min
Piazzolla Invierno Porteno
Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: spartan928] #2814149
02/12/19 03:36 PM
02/12/19 03:36 PM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 2,550
Tyrone Slothrop Online content OP
Tyrone Slothrop  Online Content OP


Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 2,550
Originally Posted by spartan928
Originally Posted by cmb13
Good comments, Spartan. What are guild auditions? How long have you been playing? Takes a long time to learn all scales, Major and minor and 4-5-1 cadences, inversions and arpeggios! Do you do the cadences on the minors as well?


The National Guild of Piano teachers hold auditions annually all over the US. I've been taking lessons since March 2018. The guild auditions are judged individually and you get a report card and certificate. Scores are really for constructive criticism non-competitive. My teacher enters students at a certain grade level wherever they are at and the level dictates what you need to perform. The Guild program is interesting as they have not only preparatory levels geared mainly toward kids through high school, but hobbyist, jazz, social programs etc. Their levels are Elementary A-F, Intermediate A-F, Preparatory A-D and lastly Diploma. My teacher put no pressure on my to enter but I wanted to and it's kind of cool but I have to have 7 pieces ready from memory by May! I have 4 of 7 down pat so I should be OK.

Also, within these levels the teacher chooses a classification (pledge, local, district, national) and the only differences between these are the number of pieces from memory. For example, I am entering for national and have to do 10 pieces from memory. However, scales, cadences and arpeggios count as three of the 10. I'm entering as Elementary F, so I have to do major scales, harmonic minor scales, hands separate two octaves, 1-4-5 cadence root scale position (major and minor) and one-handed arpeggios 2 octaves (hand separate). Don't have to play inversions at this level. Also, S/A/C only for the keys of the 7 pieces I am playing not all 12. The pieces I get to pick with my teacher must be at least one from each era; Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern.

Sorry, didn't mean to hijack the thread for Guild information lol, but you asked!

So informative! I of course was aware of that there were national and local level exams in the US as an alternative to international piano exams like the ABRSM, RCM, Trinity, and that the majority of American piano teachers actually prefer these to the international level exams/certifications, but I never actually understood what they are comprised of. You've explained it in a very clear way and I feel enlightened! Thanks!


across the stone, deathless piano performances
Re: Complete newb question on scales [Re: spartan928] #2814245
02/12/19 06:40 PM
02/12/19 06:40 PM
Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 1,686
In the Ozarks of Missouri
NobleHouse Offline
1000 Post Club Member
NobleHouse  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 1,686
In the Ozarks of Missouri
Originally Posted by spartan928
Originally Posted by cmb13
Good comments, Spartan. What are guild auditions? How long have you been playing? Takes a long time to learn all scales, Major and minor and 4-5-1 cadences, inversions and arpeggios! Do you do the cadences on the minors as well?


The National Guild of Piano teachers hold auditions annually all over the US. I've been taking lessons since March 2018. The guild auditions are judged individually and you get a report card and certificate. Scores are really for constructive criticism non-competitive. My teacher enters students at a certain grade level wherever they are at and the level dictates what you need to perform. The Guild program is interesting as they have not only preparatory levels geared mainly toward kids through high school, but hobbyist, jazz, social programs etc. Their levels are Elementary A-F, Intermediate A-F, Preparatory A-D and lastly Diploma. My teacher put no pressure on my to enter but I wanted to and it's kind of cool but I have to have 7 pieces ready from memory by May! I have 4 of 7 down pat so I should be OK.

Also, within these levels the teacher chooses a classification (pledge, local, district, national) and the only differences between these are the number of pieces from memory. For example, I am entering for national and have to do 10 pieces from memory. However, scales, cadences and arpeggios count as three of the 10. I'm entering as Elementary F, so I have to do major scales, harmonic minor scales, hands separate two octaves, 1-4-5 cadence root scale position (major and minor) and one-handed arpeggios 2 octaves (hand separate). Don't have to play inversions at this level. Also, S/A/C only for the keys of the 7 pieces I am playing not all 12. The pieces I get to pick with my teacher must be at least one from each era; Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern.

Sorry, didn't mean to hijack the thread for Guild information lol, but you asked!




Very informative. Thanks!


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