Why Am I Learning Piano Scales?

Posted by Administrator on 8/5/2012
As a teacher, you've probably heard this question a million times. As a student, you probably still haven't received a concrete answer to that question. The truth is, many piano teachers will teach scales and require weekly practice of scales without actually knowing why; we've all learned scales when we were merely kids learning to read music and it just seems to be the thing to do to teach our own students how to play them. But, there's a problem. Kids (and adults) usually don't want to learn or work on something if they don't know how they can use it to their advantage, or what purpose it serves. If your students keep asking you why they must practice their scales, or if you are a student trying to figure out why you have to do this, read below!

Yes scales are sort of boring. It's a series of 8 notes played one after the other, and learning the many different fingerings associated with them can end up being a nightmare. There's not much to it. Once you've figured out a scale and can play it fast enough, there's no more challenge. Right? This is where you might be wrong.

First of all, scales are the foundation of many styles of music. Think of Bach's Preludes and Fugues. With the exception of the odd number, most pieces are written in a particular key and the melody might use a scale run here and there. If you are playing a fugue in 'G' and you've already mastered the 'G' major scale, you might find that it is very easy to navigate through the ups and downs of the melody, since you're already familiar with the tonality and the fingerings associated with the scale. Plus, the scale runs won't scare you anymore since you'll just think of it as going up or down a scale that you've practiced for weeks.

Another reason to practice scales is that they are a great way to warm-up before diving into real practice. If you have to play pieces that are quite fast or physically demanding, you might find that it can be hard to play them right when you sit at the piano. Working through scales to warm up your hands (just like stretching out before a work out!) will help your hands wake up a little and will help you get through those demanding pieces with ease.

Finally, scales are perfect to work on details. For example, if you want to expand your dynamic range, you can do so while practice scales! You can also use scales to practice staccatos, legatos, difficult rhythmic figures, velocity, etc. Those tiny details are hard to practice through pieces because you have to worry about the notes on top of all this. Because you already know which finger to put on which note when you are playing a scale, you'll be able to focus on other details that will enhance your playing in anything else you might play!

So, next time you are wondering why you are practicing this seemingly useless exercise called a scale (or next time one of your reluctant students inquire about them), you'll finally be able to get an answer to your question.



Guillermo Eduardo Sanchez
Date: 9/26/2012 6:16:39 AM
I am one of the lot of people that find a litle boring to practice scales but something told to me that they are very importanta.10 years ago a have had a teacher that told me that scales where nor necesary it sounds a bit well to me because I rcognice I was a litle lazy with the theme of scales but inmediatly i understood these teacher was wrong and I decided to change teacher I know that these teacher got angry with me because I have decided to change to another teacher but in at that precise
Date: 6/23/2013
I also find scales of no benefit to playing the keyboard. I have been practicing for more than 10 years and am quiting playing the key board and have purchased a flute in the hope I can do better playing something that I faild to master on kwyboard

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