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The first phrase of the Christmas Carol "Joy To The World" is a complete major scale, descending.

Whenever I have a student who says that scales are "boring", I play (and sing) that. Works every time.


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Originally Posted by earlofmar
"scales are boring" is easy to say, but playing effortless scales is a lot more difficult than people think.


I've been warming up with the same 7 scales/arpeggios every day for 27 months; they are quite boring. The old folk at home now associate a C Major scale with the beginning of 30 minutes of clumsy and somewhat out of tune practice. Today I asked my Piano Doctor for some variations to make them less boring. He suggested doing about four intervals with changes between normal and contrary motion, but I didn't get anything on paper.

At the end of the day, I know I signed up for Routine^nth practice when I started this journey, so I won't stop playing my scales


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Scales have never been boring to me. I get a great sense of accomplishment by being able to play them evenly and smoothly. I've never thought of scales in terms of whole and half steps, even though my past teacher taught that formula. For some reason it has always been easier for me to think of them in terms of flats and sharps, and how many of each. I usually play all the major scales, then harmonic minors, natural minors, etc. I start at C major and alternate sharps and flats playing G, F, D, Bb, A, Eb, E, Ab, and so forth. Sometimes I'll play the major scales and their relative minors, going around the circle of fifths. Or I might just play all flats, then sharps, or play in thirds, sixths. I don't find scales or any other kind of piano practice boring. I love the challenge of it. I think that whatever a person is playing should be put aside for a while if it's boring whether it scales, arpeggios, or just a piece they don't particularly like. There's too many fun things in life to waste time being bored.

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Oh yes, it's really fun to play them in contrary motion. Now that can't be boring! And what about one hand legato and the other staccato?

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I usually play scales to rest, when my brain is tired of new difficult stuff.


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Originally Posted by PianoStartsAt33
I usually play scales to rest, when my brain is tired of new difficult stuff.

For me it's the opposite. Repeating boring stuff that I already know how to do requires a high level of concentration which I am not able to maintain when mentally tired. And I do find scales musically boring just like most music built too heavily on them. Not something I asked for, that's just how it is. It does not change anything if I vary the way I play them. They are interesting as a theoretical system though and I don't mind studying them as such.

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I love theory, and I think that's why I enjoyed learning to play the scales. When I was studying harmony and analysis in college over 30 years ago I could only play a few major and minor scales, but I had all of them memorized as far as the note names, that is. For example, I could write them forward and backward in just a few minutes. Nothing intrigues me as much as the theory of music itself with playing the piano coming in at a close 2nd. Now if I could just get my fingers to catch up with my mind, I would consider myself an advanced pianist.

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Originally Posted by Theory Grl
Oh yes, it's really fun to play them in contrary motion. Now that can't be boring!

What I find can be very fun is contrary motion in a composition I already like, and may be working on and that I can bring life to. That could get me excited, but I've never discovered a need to extract anything (scales, arpeggios, chords, contrary motion) and work on them in isolation. Also, contrary to what some people say and though I get the importance of the theory of scales and the notes contained, I've never come across complete scales in context of a piece. Remnants maybe, but there are remnants of a lot of things. Arpeggios OTOH, can sometimes be used a lot, but again it makes far more sense to me to play them in the context of music then outside of it.

Not suggesting not to do them. Obviously, lots of people like to do them and under proper conditions I don't question it being of help to them. There is relief though, if you are not one of these people. It is in the music and if you are playing enough music you are playing them anyway. If there is a problem with anything, you may need to isolate that, but for me it doesn't feel productive to isolate and work on something so long as it is not impeding progress.

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Originally Posted by Greener
. . . Also, contrary to what some people say and though I get the importance of the theory of scales and the notes contained, I've never come across complete scales in context of a piece. Remnants maybe, but there are remnants of a lot of things. Arpeggios OTOH, can sometimes be used a lot, but again it makes far more sense to me to play them in the context of music then outside of it.


I don't know what you've been playing, but scales -- plain, recognizable, complete scales -- occur all through Baroque- and Classical-era music. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven -- just look at the scores.

A jazz arrangement that my choir just did, had a one-octave, whole-tone scale embedded in the bass part. It was the first time I've seen that in "real music", and it was nice to recognize it.

I'm not saying that you have to practice scales "in isolation", but they're a fundamental element of composition.


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Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
Originally Posted by Greener
. . . Also, contrary to what some people say and though I get the importance of the theory of scales and the notes contained, I've never come across complete scales in context of a piece. Remnants maybe, but there are remnants of a lot of things. Arpeggios OTOH, can sometimes be used a lot, but again it makes far more sense to me to play them in the context of music then outside of it.


I don't know what you've been playing, but scales -- plain, recognizable, complete scales -- occur all through Baroque- and Classical-era music. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven -- just look at the scores.

I've worked on all of these except Mozart (no interest), so far. Maybe there have been a few more then I thought, but I really don't think so. At any rate, I wouldn't want to be able to play the other parts any less efficiently anyway and just prefer to work on everything together.

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I am most impressed that after ~7 long months of studying/learning piano that you find finger exercises
to be more effective than learning/practicing scales. Pray can you tell me, and others how you arrived at this
conclusion?

Or, are you toying with the good folks here and trying to "set the cat among the pigeons" so
to speak and get a rise out of us as to which in "better, etc., etc"?

Now I am a beginner, so my comments may not count for much, but aside from having to know scales for RCM exams,
I find playing them to be a good mental exercise. While recovering from food poisoning, I mentally played several scales, triads,
and tried to do contrarey motion (didn't work out) to distract myself form the pain.
As others have stated scales can be played in many ways. As for finger exercises I do them, from time to time, for fun at end of a session. Are they better than scales?
IMO not really, just different and are part of the overall learning process.




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Am I the only person that actually likes playing scales? ha ha.
I think they are very useful. It will help with your ear and it will help you understand the structure of music (if you don't already know them). Play them along with the diatonic chords, arpeggios/cadences -even better. I think the good thing about them is when you learn them you can play them without even thinking about it. It's kind of relaxing.


This is a good book: https://www.amazon.com/Scales-Chord...592&sr=8-1&keywords=piano+scales



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I find them useful as well Kymber. I didn't particularly like them as a student, but I think it makes learning pieces in different keys much easier if the scale is muscle memory, based on the difficulty my husband has in comparison :P


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