Tuesday, 14 March 2017
Importance of Learning and Practicing Scales on the Piano
Piano scales often get a bad press. Repeated scale practice is often cited as a reason for quitting piano lessons among beginners. The simple fact is, though, that scales are incredibly important - it’s very difficult to become a really good pianist unless you master your scales and practise them pretty regularly.
The problem is that it’s very rarely explained to piano learners why scales matter so much.
1. Muscle Memory - Trains your fingers to play common patterns found in music. When you have practised a scale for a while you will begin to ‘just get it’ and the scale will flow naturally from your instrument. What you have done is to begin to develop muscular memory. This is a very useful thing to have. When you see this scale again or indeed a similar one you will be able to rely partially on this muscle memory to help you play the scale. This also applies to snippets of scales, of which there are a lot in music.
2. Dexterity – one part of learning an instrument involves training parts of the body to do new things, to repeat them and then do them very quickly. Scales are a great training partner. They will help you refine and improve your speed. Slow careful practice of scales at the outset will have you whizzing up and down in no time.
3. Ears – if you can’t hear what is wrong you can’t correct it. This is true of all of your music practice. Learn to listen very, very carefully when you practice your scales and you will start to hear areas where you can improve your other playing. Pay attention to tuning, articulation, tone quality, consistency etc. Imagine what a perfect scale would sound like in every way and try to make each of your scales sound like that.
4. Timing – to play together with other people you need to have good time, good internal time. One of the best ways to develop this is to practise scales. Slowly at first, with a metronome if needed until you are placing each and every note exactly where it needs to be, not too soon or too late – just right.
You can get ahead of the music practice game by taking your scales seriously and realizing that they are far from boring. In fact, there is a huge range of possibilities when you begin to think about it. Those that think scales are boring are on the track to slow progression. Realize the potential scales have to improve your music practice and you will be in the fast lane.
Proper fingering of the scales on the piano is very important to the development of your skills and advancement as a pianist.
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