Why Do We Practice Scales? Is It Necessary?

Why Do We Practice Scales


Many piano students think that practicing scales is a boring task because of the mechanical sounds and repetitive movements. However for some pianists, scales is a fundamental and essential skill to achieve great performance. What do you think? Why do we practice scales? Is it necessary? Let us look at what are the benefits of practicing scales.


The Benefits of Practicing Scales


1. Practicing scales is an excellent way to warm up your fingers especially before you start playing some difficult pieces. A 15 to 30 minutes warm up with scales is sufficient to prepare the fingers, wrist and arm for the coming practice or performance. Warming up before practice can also decrease the risk of getting injured for over exertion or straining.


2. Practicing scales enable you to train the strength of your fingers especially the weakest 4th and 5th fingers. Weak fingers cause a lot of difficulty in playing evenly. Obtaining finger strength will give better control on piano playing by showing more flexibility and evenness.


3. Piano technique can be greatly improved if scales are practiced regularly. These include the finger agility, dexterity, speed and precision.


4. Learning scales can help you to gain a better understanding about music theory. You’ll understand how chords are derived from the scales and these knowledge are essential for the study of improvisation.


5. Practicing and listening to scales can facilitate in developing a better ear with more exposure to tonality and harmony.


6. Scale and arpeggio patterns are very commonly appear in music pieces especially those from classical period. By mastering the scales, time for learning a new piece can be shorten.


7. Mastering scales by practicing them with different articulation and dynamic is a great way to improve the expressiveness of the performance.


8. Finally, practicing scales require full concentration and focus. This can help you increase your attention span in performing other tasks too.


The 12 Major Scales and Their Relative Minor Scales


Major and Minor Scales


How to Practice Scales: Some Tips!


Metronome1. First, take some time to learn the scales and understand the key signature. Learn to play it with correct fingering because erratic fingering always lead to mistakes. Do pay attention to the hands coordination and thumb crossings too.


2. Memorize the scales and play them by memory. Looking at the sheet music while practicing may affect the evenness and speed of the scales. Besides, this is a requirement of piano exam too.


3. Start practicing slowly. Use metronome to set a speed which is a few times slower than the desired speed. After you’re able to play it clearly and evenly, slowly increase the speed and practice until your desired speed is achieved.


4. Always concentrate and practice mindfully to minimize mistake.


5. Practice musically by paying attention to dynamics and articulations. You can practice it with legato and staccato, piano and forte.


6. Don’t forget to practice regularly to gradually improve your piano technique.


A Tutorial From Living Pianos on How to Practice Scales and Arpeggios:


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Recommended Books


Hanon – The Virtuoso Pianist and Czerny’s Practical Method are two great books filled with exercises specially designed to strengthen the fingers and improve the technical skill. Read my review of Hanon here.


look inside
The Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises – Complete (Comb-Bound)
(Complete). Composed by Charles-Louis Hanon. Edited by Allan Small. For piano. Masterworks; Piano Collection. Alfred Masterworks Editions. Studies and Classical. Advanced; Early Advanced; Intermediate; Late Intermediate. Piano studies book (comb-bound). Standard notation, fingerings and introductory text. 127 pages. Published by Alfred Music (AP.616C).


look inside
Czerny — Practical Method, Op. 599 (Complete)
Composed by Carl Czerny (1791-1857). Edited by Willard A. Palmer. For Piano. Masterworks; Piano Collection. Alfred Masterwork Edition. Classical; Masterwork; Romantic. Early Advanced; Early Intermediate; Elementary; Intermediate; Late Elementary; Late Intermediate. Book. 88 pages. Published by Alfred Music (AP.596).


Do you agree that practicing scales bring more benefits than hindrance to the development of technical skills? Feel free to leave me a comment below to express your thought.

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  1. Practicing scales is very similar to why we practice addition and memorize times tables. We have to learn to walk before we can run and these things help us to transition to more difficult levels. Practicing scales is definately an integral part of creating music or singing.

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