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Why Scales?!

Each week I assign my students a scale, or scales to learn and work on. Each week some students “forget” to work on them. They act as if scales were meant only to torment them and as if scales were completely unrelated to anything musical. 


Why learn scales? The easiest reason to understand is that music is based on scales. When you know your scales well, many passages in the music you are learning will come more easily and naturally. Scales are the foundation of music. Look at the music you are learning and you will see scales and part of scales throughout it. The importance of learning ones scales is undeniable


  • Make sure you practise your scales evenly, don’t speed up or slow down, you want all your notes to be equal in tempo. If I received a dollar for every uneven scale I have heard, I would be a millionaire!

  • Use a metronome to help you play evenly

  • If you are learning a new scale keep reviewing scales you have already learned.

  • Think of scales as building blocks to your musical progress

  • Scales will help your manual dexterity. As musicians we need to train parts of our bodies to do new things, to use muscles in a different way and to do so repeatedly and with some speed. Scales will help you with this.  

Instead of avoiding and ignoring scales why not find ways to make your scale practicing more interesting and enjoyable. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Pick a scale any scale: take some cue cards and cut them in half. On one side write down the name of the scales you are working on and have worked on. Put them in a bag and pick one out at random. Keep picking them out until there are none left!

Variations on a scale: Try playing your scale(s) with different rhythms. 

Dynamic scales: try your scale(s) with different dynamic levels, play it forte (loudly), then piano (softly), then try a crescendo (gradually get louder) or decrescendo  (gradually get softer).  Be creative.

Scaling the scales:  try starting on a different note in the scale. Parts of your music may have scale passages that don’t start on the first note of the scale. Getting used playing the scale beginning on different notes in that scale is very beneficial.

Don’t ignore your scales, embrace them and LEARN THEM!!

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