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How often do you practice scales?
Everyday! Are you kidding, their like the bread and butter of the musical world! 18%  18%  [ 3 ]
Everyday. But only because I'm forced to and I think they might be important someday. 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
A few times a week. Sometimes I just don't have time to because I need more time on my real pieces! 24%  24%  [ 4 ]
A few times a week because I often forget. 18%  18%  [ 3 ]
Once a month. Sometimes, I get inspired to play scales. 29%  29%  [ 5 ]
Never. Are you kidding? A virtuoso like me doesn't need to go back to medial basic technique! 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
Never. I just don't like playing them and I don't really feel their that important. 12%  12%  [ 2 ]
Total votes : 17
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 Post subject: Scales! Scales! Scales! Oh My!
PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 4:01 pm 
Hi everyone! I am a fellow player of the piano and I was wondering if you brilliant minded people could give me advice to play the most even, most accurate, and most quick 24 major/minor scales.


If you could, I want my scales to be:

1. Coordinated- my hands must play together for all four octaves.
2. Even- one tone and dynamic between the hands.
3. Quick- At least 120 to the quarter note.

The Harmonic is the only version that is required for the minor scales.


My dream is to walk into my jury, play them perfectly and up to tempo when they demand the obscure scales and arpeggios they always ask, and to avoid another comment on the form that says my scales suck. For the fourth time.

Your expertise will be greatly appreciated. Oh, P.S., do the poll! I excited to see your responses!

And also, anybody with advice/exercises on diminished, whole tone, chromatic, etc. scales would be lovely.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 3:33 am 
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I think you should add the choice (kidding) "I only practice my scales twice a week, because I know my scales like the backs of my hands and play enough technically demanding pieces that I only need to practice them that often; If I practiced my scales more than twice a week, my ears, hands and mind would be over-trained and therefore less able to make music, which is after all the whole point of playing the piano; of course this was not always the case because there was a time where daily scale practice was a requirement but that time is now past because I've known my scales for almost 14 years and am quite secure in my playing (my sight-reading is another matter); I may practice them even less frequently in the future but my technique is insufficiently secure to enable such practicional (I know that's not a word) rarefying ." :lol:

OK, kidding aside; welcome to the forum. (If I had to choose it would be "Everyday! Are you kidding, their like the bread and butter of the musical world!" Because that is my belief. Practice is sometimes another case.)

Because you're playing for a jury, I assume you have a piano teacher; if that is the case, first make sure (if he/she is a good teacher) that you follow all given advice. All I can say is practice them...A LOT and at least until you can rip up and down the keyboard at 208. (not kidding)

Aside from that, there is a neat fingering pattern that must be recognized, common to certain groups of scales. For example, C, G, D, A, and E major all have the same fingering (rh, 1231234(5/1)) and can therefore be grouped into a single "family" of scales, which we will call "White Key Major Scales." The second group (with the rh fingering, 2312341(2)) comprised of B, F#, C#, and F major shall be called "Black Key Major Scales." (Even though F major is not quite a "black key" scale, the fingering fits.)

If you're unfamiliar with this style of grouping scales into sets determined by their fingering pattern, you're working too hard. Let me know and I can e-mail it to you.

Anyway, that's a pretty major tool I was never able to exploit, I learned all my scales without ever realizing this pattern would've made things so much simpler.

Hello again,
Pete

PS: My favorite chromatic scale fingering is, (rh starting on C and ascending) 4-3535-4-353535-(4) I'm sure you can see the fingering is dependent upon where the black keys are. The lh fingering is the same except in mirror image (starting on E and this time, descending) 4-3535-4-353535-(4)

It's great for coordinating the muscles on the outer palm and I practice it once every four days (for about 60 minutes nonstop at varied tempi and loudness) Just be careful, these muscles are easily injured so take it gradually! (Two minutes the first day, three minutes the next, etc...) I can't stress that enough.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 5:11 pm 
Quote:
Because you're playing for a jury, I assume you have a piano teacher; if that is the case, first make sure (if he/she is a good teacher) that you follow all given advice. All I can say is practice them...A LOT and at least until you can rip up and down the keyboard at 208. (not kidding)

Aside from that, there is a neat fingering pattern that must be recognized, common to certain groups of scales. For example, C, G, D, A, and E major all have the same fingering (rh, 1231234(5/1)) and can therefore be grouped into a single "family" of scales, which we will call "White Key Major Scales." The second group (with the rh fingering, 2312341(2)) comprised of B, F#, C#, and F major shall be called "Black Key Major Scales." (Even though F major is not quite a "black key" scale, the fingering fits.)

If you're unfamiliar with this style of grouping scales into sets determined by their fingering pattern, you're working too hard. Let me know and I can e-mail it to you.

Anyway, that's a pretty major tool I was never able to exploit, I learned all my scales without ever realizing this pattern would've made things so much simpler.

Hello again,
Pete

PS: My favorite chromatic scale fingering is, (rh starting on C and ascending) 4-3535-4-353535-(4) I'm sure you can see the fingering is dependent upon where the black keys are. The lh fingering is the same except in mirror image (starting on E and this time, descending) 4-3535-4-353535-(4)

It's great for coordinating the muscles on the outer palm and I practice it once every four days (for about 60 minutes nonstop at varied tempi and loudness) Just be careful, these muscles are easily injured so take it gradually! (Two minutes the first day, three minutes the next, etc...) I can't stress that enough.


Hey Pete! Thanks for you quick and helpful response. I am a piano performance major in college, so my juries are chaired by the entire keyboard faculty seeing me struggle in my attempts at an B Minor scale.

I do have a wonderful teacher, but somehow she always forgets scales two weeks before the actual jury occurs and that week is utter torture for me having hundreds of exams and tests and stuff. My teacher is actually more of the perfect "master class" teacher rather than giving you solid advice on basic skills, so that's why I have to resort to the internet.

For some reason, I have no problem playing sixteenth notes up to 208 or faster in pieces or passages or anything, just when it comes to scales. On scales, it seems my hands can't even coordinate at 100. Do you know of any specific techniques other than the metronome? A friend told me to practice scales the Russian method: very difficult and time consuming.

I did notice the white key scale group, but I had not realized the others. That will certainly help me learn the scales faster.

Thanks for the chromatic scale fingering, it certainly reminds me of the fingering in Chopin's Etude No. 2 Op. 10. I shall try to incorporate it into my daily practice, the outer hands are quite weak.

Also, how do you/how would you incorporate scales into practice sessions? Everyday for 30 min? more? less?

Thanks, Ashley.

Quote:
I think you should add the choice (kidding) "I only practice my scales twice a week, because I know my scales like the backs of my hands and play enough technically demanding pieces that I only need to practice them that often; If I practiced my scales more than twice a week, my ears, hands and mind would be over-trained and therefore less able to make music, which is after all the whole point of playing the piano; of course this was not always the case because there was a time where daily scale practice was a requirement but that time is now past because I've known my scales for almost 14 years and am quite secure in my playing (my sight-reading is another matter); I may practice them even less frequently in the future but my technique is insufficiently secure to enable such practicional (I know that's not a word) rarefying.


You know, I was considering that option for the briefest second, but then I realized probably about 150 people in the population would be truly able to select it and about 6 people total with that talent are actually online, so it wouldn't make sense. :wink:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 6:24 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2006 12:34 pm
Posts: 1278
Practicing scales is often treated as a purely technical task; I believe this to be a flawed mindset. I noticed right away when you said that you can play fast scales in a piece of music but not necessarily on their own. This could be caused by disengaging your mind when practicing scales in isolation; that can be a symptom of plain, old boredom. Make sure you actively listen to and dynamically control scales whenever you play them. I also recognize some signs of physical monotony. I take it you practice them every day, you might switch to every other day until you can loosen up a little bit. Remember, Archimedes didn't have his "Eureka!" moment until he allowed himself to take a bath.

Here's what I would try; if you're having difficulty with a particular scale (in this case b minor) set aside two, 2hour practice sessions a week to work only on that scale. (You should need a merciful few of these marathon sessions.) You're lucky, because b minor is one of the easy ones, if the note groupings are visualized properly. B (natural, harmonic and melodic) minor has the same fingering as b major, arguably the easiest scale of all!

Never mind scale methods. (I've always found that I could come up with a personal solution to a problem, if I thought about it the right way) I would suggest you practice b minor in the following way:

First play B major scale until you are well warmed up (about 15 min up and down the entire length of the keyboard, with metronome starting at 16th = 60 and increasing to a comfortable maximum of 16th = X)

Then (away from the keyboard) imagine the theoretical differences between B major and b minor (this is week-one theory) For the sake of argument, let's think about b harmonic minor. The only difference between B major and b harmonic minor is a lowered 3rd and 6th scale degree.

Take that thought to the keyboard. All you then need to play the scale in harmonic minor is to "play" B major with those lowered scale degrees. Since the fingering is identical and the theoretical difference between the two is small, this should occur quickly.

Finding common denominators between a very simple scale (B) and a seemingly complicated one (b) can add reason to your practicing. And practice without reason is a complete waste of time.

PS: Another great example is f harmonic minor, having an identical fingering to F major (F major having an identical (albeit transposed) fingering to D-flat major.)


Last edited by PJF on Tue Jul 01, 2008 11:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 11:39 pm 
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The chromatic scale exercise I previously mentioned is best payed in contrary motion, rh asc. starting on a C. Left hand desc. starting on an E. It becomes a very uncoordinated affair if you use parallel motion. Contrary motion helps the weaker hand into position. Since the whole point of this scale exercise is to coordinate, this is an important factor.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 1:41 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2006 1:03 pm
Posts: 2388
Location: Obamanation, unfortunately...
Scales? What's his first name? He must be Italian :wink:

_________________
Madam, what makes you think that I play with my hands?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 2:27 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2006 12:34 pm
Posts: 1278
juufa72 wrote:
Scales? What's his first name? He must be Italian :wink:


I don't get it.

Anyway, here is THE list of correct fingerings. (I triple-checked for typos; if you find one, please let me know.)

http://server3.pianosociety.com/new/php ... php?t=2514


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 7:00 pm 
I will most certainly try your advice for two weeks and then get back to you. Thanks for the fingering charts. Before that chart, I always felt like there were 5 different scale fingerings for C Major.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 7:54 pm 
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Posts: 1278
Good luck!


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