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I have never really played chromatic scales before, so I have never bothered with them.
having a lot of trouble getting up to speed and I started wondering about my technique. (Could be I just have to practise more)
I have been doing them with an up and down motion (or front to back if you prefer), but now I am wondering if they can be done with a left to right motion.
Does that make sense.
Er.....it doesn't. There should be no up/down or in/out or front/back movements, but just a smooth sideways movement of the hand, "following" the fingers.
First, I'd suggest you don't start trying to play chromatic scales until you can play normal major & minor scales fluently, smoothly and at a reasonable speed, in the keys of C, G, F, D and B flat majors and their relative minors.
Then, of course, make sure you're using the correct fingerings (1 & 2 on white keys only, 3 on black keys only, no other fingers used - don't bother with any other fingerings that advanced pianists might use in certain situations). And there should be a smooth, fluid lateral movement of your hand while your fingers twiddle up and down the keyboard.
Watch the start of this video (which I picked at random from a multitude of such instructional videos): (for a one-handed view, watch from 2:00) Don't forget you can slow the video down.
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."