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Introducing all Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, and Cadences #2822648
03/04/19 08:39 AM
03/04/19 08:39 AM
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RyanThePianist Offline OP
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Hi all,

In an effort to keep this forum busy...

How do other teachers introduce these basic techniques? Do you prefer the pages from Hanon? Alfred's Scales, Arps, Chords, and Cadence book? I personally find that many of these compilations sheets are better at scaring students than introducing them, as they often include scales in 3rds, 6ths, contrary, etc., and I can understand why students may find it a bit of a long haul visually on the page to learn them all.

How about scale diagrams with fingerings on them for students who don't read well yet? Do you make your own simplified and step-by-step sheets? Do you teach soley by memory and repetition after a solid foundation in theory?

When do you introduce the first scales and arpeggios? After a couple of pentascales? Do you go along with the method books? Do you have your own method?

When I learned these, I already understood the order of sharps, flats and key signatures from my teachers giving me various pieces in different keys. I eventually noticed the patterns. I'd go out of my way to use Hanon book to look at suggested fingerings for the beginning of each scale and arpeggio, wrote them down and memorized them, and most fingerings came intuitively and naturally to me from there. For contrary motion, 3rds, etc, I would just learn them without sheets since I knew regular scales well. Chords, to be honest, I don't remember how I learned them as I feel like there was a point in time where I played so many chords in my music that I knew what major and minor 3rds felt like to build major and minor chords. After this, I would practice a chord a day in every inversion, including 7th chords. I know students don't learn like I do having come from different backgrounds.

Thank you.

Last edited by RyanThePianist; 03/04/19 08:42 AM.

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Re: Introducing all Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, and Cadences [Re: RyanThePianist] #2822650
03/04/19 08:48 AM
03/04/19 08:48 AM
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DISCLAIMER - I AM NOT A TEACHER 😉

Quote
Do you teach solely by memory and repetition after a solid foundation in theory?


This is how I was taught IIRC. I had one ABRSM scale book but I’m sure that was mostly for reference - what to learn for what exam - rather than instruction.

It can’t have been a bad method for me because all those scales & arpeggios are firmly embedded in my memory and muscle memory decades later.


“If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt) - stolen from Kreisler
Re: Introducing all Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, and Cadences [Re: RyanThePianist] #2822672
03/04/19 10:28 AM
03/04/19 10:28 AM
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TimR Offline
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I never have a teacher explain these.

I ended up in charge of a praise and worship band. No written out sheet music, at best a lead sheet but often just chord symbols and the text.

What the heck is a D2? Or a C/G?

So each week I looked up whatever was going to be played the next week and came to rehearsal prepared to explain it to the guitar players and cover it on the piano.


gotta go practice
Re: Introducing all Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, and Cadences [Re: RyanThePianist] #2822680
03/04/19 10:54 AM
03/04/19 10:54 AM
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My son was introduced to the Bastien Scales, Chords, and Arpeggios when he started with Faber Book 2. He was participating in Piano Guild that year so she started him with the scales that he needed to know for his pieces that year (Probably Group 1).


Yamaha G2
Re: Introducing all Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, and Cadences [Re: RyanThePianist] #2822701
03/04/19 12:08 PM
03/04/19 12:08 PM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 499
Sweden
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Originally Posted by RyanThePianist
How do other teachers introduce these basic techniques?

I am not a teacher but Ilinca Vartic is, and she has a separate Scale course, that students can start after at least half a year of practice. In this course, she takes it very gradually, starting with the explanation of WWHWWWH, and then the student has to play slowly non-legato, hands separately, C major, one octave up and down. The student should practice this until they can make sounds that are equal both in length and dynamics, and then they can move on to the next part, which is an elaborate explanation of the two ways of thumb crossing, common mistakes, followed by thumb crossing exercises, until the student gets to play C major, still HS, but this time legato.
It continues in the same slow and elaborate manner. I can see no risk for a student to be scared, and personally I prefer an overly elaborate course over one that is too brief.


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
Re: Introducing all Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, and Cadences [Re: RyanThePianist] #2822729
03/04/19 01:38 PM
03/04/19 01:38 PM
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Canada
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All of these elements are in Piano Adventures, though introduced at a fairly slow pace.
This is what I have been using recently: Just Picture It
It's pretty user friendly and goes up to RCM 5. After that level, students should know the patterns anyway.


Private piano teacher
B. Mus., M.Mus. (piano performance & pedagogy).
Re: Introducing all Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, and Cadences [Re: RyanThePianist] #2822760
03/04/19 03:32 PM
03/04/19 03:32 PM
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Posts: 8,036
Orange County, CA
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We've had many threads on scales before, but I don't think I've seen threads on arpeggios.

Most kids do arpeggios VERY poorly, and only a select few can ever play them up to speed.

I haven't tried this yet, but I'm tempted to teach Dominant 7th and diminished 7th broken chords first. Those are much more "finger friendly" than most arpeggios.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Introducing all Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, and Cadences [Re: AZNpiano] #2822779
03/04/19 04:24 PM
03/04/19 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
We've had many threads on scales before, but I don't think I've seen threads on arpeggios.

Most kids do arpeggios VERY poorly, and only a select few can ever play them up to speed.

I haven't tried this yet, but I'm tempted to teach Dominant 7th and diminished 7th broken chords first. Those are much more "finger friendly" than most arpeggios.


That's surprising. How do you define "up to speed"? RCM starts pretty slow, one octave, and increases a bit each year. I AM NOT A TEACHER and IN MY OWN PERSONAL OPINION, they aren't a very difficult technical exercise.


Lisa

Currently working at RCM grade 5
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Re: Introducing all Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, and Cadences [Re: AZNpiano] #2822783
03/04/19 04:38 PM
03/04/19 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I haven't tried this yet, but I'm tempted to teach Dominant 7th and diminished 7th broken chords first. Those are much more "finger friendly" than most arpeggios.


As a non teacher but experienced pianist I think that sounds like a good idea AZNPiano, especially diminished 7ths. Also the (mostly) black key arpeggios like A or D flat Major are generally easier, IMO, than the solely white key ones.

Last edited by ShyPianist; 03/04/19 04:39 PM.

“If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt) - stolen from Kreisler
Re: Introducing all Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, and Cadences [Re: ebonykawai] #2822784
03/04/19 04:39 PM
03/04/19 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by ebonykawai
That's surprising. How do you define "up to speed"? RCM starts pretty slow, one octave, and increases a bit each year. I AM NOT A TEACHER and IN MY OWN PERSONAL OPINION, they aren't a very difficult technical exercise.

Speaking strictly as a piano student smile (and an early stage one!) arpeggios always felt to me a bit analogous to hopping from one rock to another in getting across a creek/brook - one false jump and you'll end up getting wet. I've gotten "wet" plenty of times with arpeggios and I think this is certainly one of the things that affects my ability to do them smoothly & steadily and at a faster tempo (say comparable to my tempo with scales) - I feel as if I am hesitating slightly, in order to aim, before "leaping for the next rock." I'm going to be watching this thread with interest to see what is said about arpeggios smile


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Re: Introducing all Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, and Cadences [Re: AZNpiano] #2822793
03/04/19 04:45 PM
03/04/19 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano


Most kids do arpeggios VERY poorly, and only a select few can ever play them up to speed.
.


Too bad, because they sound so good and add so much, especially to something less classical.


gotta go practice
Re: Introducing all Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, and Cadences [Re: RyanThePianist] #2822822
03/04/19 05:43 PM
03/04/19 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by RyanThePianist
Hi all,

In an effort to keep this forum busy...

How do other teachers introduce these basic techniques? Do you prefer the pages from Hanon? Alfred's Scales, Arps, Chords, and Cadence book? I personally find that many of these compilations sheets are better at scaring students than introducing them, as they often include scales in 3rds, 6ths, contrary, etc., and I can understand why students may find it a bit of a long haul visually on the page to learn them all.

How about scale diagrams with fingerings on them for students who don't read well yet? Do you make your own simplified and step-by-step sheets? Do you teach soley by memory and repetition after a solid foundation in theory?

When do you introduce the first scales and arpeggios? After a couple of pentascales? Do you go along with the method books? Do you have your own method?

When I learned these, I already understood the order of sharps, flats and key signatures from my teachers giving me various pieces in different keys. I eventually noticed the patterns. I'd go out of my way to use Hanon book to look at suggested fingerings for the beginning of each scale and arpeggio, wrote them down and memorized them, and most fingerings came intuitively and naturally to me from there. For contrary motion, 3rds, etc, I would just learn them without sheets since I knew regular scales well. Chords, to be honest, I don't remember how I learned them as I feel like there was a point in time where I played so many chords in my music that I knew what major and minor 3rds felt like to build major and minor chords. After this, I would practice a chord a day in every inversion, including 7th chords. I know students don't learn like I do having come from different backgrounds.

Thank you.

The C major is a horrible scale to start with. I start all students with B, Db or Gb, by rote, hands together ASAP. My youngest student, just turned 5, can already play the B major scale two octaves, both hands.

I teach triads in each key, starting with C (C is fine for chords), then move to 7 chords as soon as any student can handle the bigger chords.

Arpeggios are just chords strung out, but the fingering is much more of an issue, so the fingering for arpeggios has to be handled carefully.


Piano Teacher
Re: Introducing all Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, and Cadences [Re: ShyPianist] #2822824
03/04/19 05:45 PM
03/04/19 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by ShyPianist
DISCLAIMER - I AM NOT A TEACHER 😉

Quote
Do you teach solely by memory and repetition after a solid foundation in theory?


This is how I was taught IIRC. I had one ABRSM scale book but I’m sure that was mostly for reference - what to learn for what exam - rather than instruction.

It can’t have been a bad method for me because all those scales & arpeggios are firmly embedded in my memory and muscle memory decades later.

I learned FACE, every good boy does fine, all cows eat grass and great big dogs fight animals.

Decades later I read lightning fast, so I could conclude that the system I first used and was taught was a good one, but in fact it was horrible. So don't go by what you can do today and assume the way you were taught was an efficient way to learn. Some people figure things out in spite of the system.


Piano Teacher
Re: Introducing all Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, and Cadences [Re: ShyPianist] #2822826
03/04/19 05:49 PM
03/04/19 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by ShyPianist
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I haven't tried this yet, but I'm tempted to teach Dominant 7th and diminished 7th broken chords first. Those are much more "finger friendly" than most arpeggios.


As a non teacher but experienced pianist I think that sounds like a good idea AZNPiano, especially diminished 7ths. Also the (mostly) black key arpeggios like A or D flat Major are generally easier, IMO, than the solely white key ones.

Because arpeggios that contain at least one white key tell you where to put your thumb. Where there are two white keys, as in a D7 chord, it becomes more tricky, depending on the inversion or starting note.

All black is also tough though not seen much, as in an Eb m7 chord.

All white, as you mentioned, is the most difficult because there are too many choices...


Piano Teacher
Re: Introducing all Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, and Cadences [Re: Gary D.] #2822827
03/04/19 05:53 PM
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Fair enough GaryD, and I know non-teacher input is considered inferior here, but I happen to believe it was a good system and if I was teaching now I believe I would use it myself. If you are teaching basic technique and harmonic principles then it makes absolutely zero sense, in my view and in the case of scales and arpeggios, to have your student rely on learning from a book.


“If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt) - stolen from Kreisler
Re: Introducing all Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, and Cadences [Re: Gary D.] #2822830
03/04/19 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.

Because arpeggios that contain at least one white key tell you where to put your thumb. Where there are two white keys, as in a D7 chord, it becomes more tricky, depending on the inversion or starting note.

All black is also tough though not seen much, as in an Eb m7 chord.

All white, as you mentioned, is the most difficult because there are too many choices...


Yes to all of that, but also because of the finger placement. A mixture of black and white keys is more natural for the hands. All black, as you say, is pretty horrid.


“If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt) - stolen from Kreisler
Re: Introducing all Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, and Cadences [Re: ShyPianist] #2822864
03/04/19 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by ShyPianist
Fair enough GaryD, and I know non-teacher input is considered inferior here, but I happen to believe it was a good system and if I was teaching now I believe I would use it myself. If you are teaching basic technique and harmonic principles then it makes absolutely zero sense, in my view and in the case of scales and arpeggios, to have your student rely on learning from a book.

I'm confused. When did I say it's good to rely on learning from a book?

I start off with the B scale, taught by key color. Then Db, which is the same thing but moves E and B to F and C. Then Gb, which uses Cb and F but can be taught as F and B.

Those are the three easiest scales to play.

Then I teach F major, because the thumbs always meet, same as the other three that use all the black keys.

C major only after those three, because in C the thumb of either hand easily goes on any white key, so 5 out of 7 choices in each hand may be comfortable but are wrong.

Then I teach that C, D, E, G, and A are like C. then Ab is like C, but looks different because of where the thumbs fall. Bb and Eb last because both scales use unique fingerings.

I teach people to read these scales AFTER then can play them in the form I teach them. But always reading in pieces themselves, where the scales are used.


Piano Teacher
Re: Introducing all Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, and Cadences [Re: Gary D.] #2822958
03/05/19 03:51 AM
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Quote
I'm confused. When did I say it's good to rely on learning from a book?


You didn’t, but I stated that I was taught by a method that didn’t use a book and you warned me that success for me doesn’t mean it was a good method (fair point). So I went on to say that I believe it was a very good method and far preferable to what I would see as the alternative of learning from a book (obviously there are shades in between).

Your method sounds excellent by the way, but then I guess I would say that since a similar method worked for me 35 years ago. 😉


“If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt) - stolen from Kreisler
Re: Introducing all Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, and Cadences [Re: ShyPianist] #2822968
03/05/19 04:48 AM
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Originally Posted by ShyPianist
Quote
I'm confused. When did I say it's good to rely on learning from a book?


You didn’t, but I stated that I was taught by a method that didn’t use a book and you warned me that success for me doesn’t mean it was a good method (fair point). So I went on to say that I believe it was a very good method and far preferable to what I would see as the alternative of learning from a book (obviously there are shades in between).

Your method sounds excellent by the way, but then I guess I would say that since a similar method worked for me 35 years ago. 😉


Ah I see the issue Gary. I said “you” but I was speaking in general terms I didn’t mean you personally.

<sigh> I’ve spent enough time in web forums over the years, you’d think I’d know better (or should that be one?)

Last edited by ShyPianist; 03/05/19 04:49 AM.

“If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt) - stolen from Kreisler
Re: Introducing all Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, and Cadences [Re: ShyPianist] #2822981
03/05/19 05:39 AM
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Originally Posted by ShyPianist
Quote
I'm confused. When did I say it's good to rely on learning from a book?


You didn’t, but I stated that I was taught by a method that didn’t use a book and you warned me that success for me doesn’t mean it was a good method (fair point). So I went on to say that I believe it was a very good method and far preferable to what I would see as the alternative of learning from a book (obviously there are shades in between).

Your method sounds excellent by the way, but then I guess I would say that since a similar method worked for me 35 years ago. 😉

The difference is that when you start with rote, the B scale is easiest. But you can't start there with notation. It doesn't matter what order you learn the scales in, since the goal is to have all 12, and then you can play them in any order.

The B scale is so easy because there are "grooves" for the thumbs, and it's easy to learn not to put thumbs on black keys - a rule that is later broken many times.

The way the fingers move for B major and C major is very different, so getting to those two scales and comfortable playing both is great for flexibility and understanding how the fingers work.


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