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Approach to learning/practicing scales


Jazzpunk

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As a newbie I am curious as to how others approach practicing scales. While I have been taking lessons, I have yet to find a teacher who has an actual method as far as how to break down and approach my practice time.

 

On the subject of practicing scales, I am curious as to how others approached this when first learning. Did you guys start with selected keys or did you go through the major and minor scales in all keys each time you practiced?

 

The teachers I have had so far seem to want to skip right to the more ethereal concepts of music like the feel and emotion which is fine but right now I feel like I need to build a technical foundation to draw from.

 

Thanks in advance for any input.

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Tell your teacher about this. If he/she doesn't care about your needs, simply change teacher. After all, you are the one paying for the courses.

 

Technique practice in all keys is as important as the more elaborated theory stuff, especially in the beginning.

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it does tend to get alittle tedious to sit and practice all keys... but it's obviously very important to getto them all.. so waht i'ld suggest is do 2-3 each time you practice just make sure you hit them all dont concentrate on the ones you know best... and like cydonia said it's your dough... while it's a little presumptious to think you know exactly what you need (you are the one learning right?) at the same time if it's not taking you where you want to go you should at least quetion how they are gonna get you there...
"style is determined not by what you can play but what you cant...." dave brubeck
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Originally posted by Jazzpunk:

The teachers I have had so far seem to want to skip right to the more ethereal concepts of music like the feel and emotion which is fine but right now I feel like I need to build a technical foundation to draw from.

[/QB]

Strange, what kind of teacher wants to skip techniques foundation in a beginner player :freak:

You can practice scales and other sh*t on your own but after you've learned some basic hand techniques.

I can tell you, finding good teacher is a hard thing, so you might want to do some research.

 

p.s

yes, eveything you practice on the piano, do in every key.

♫♫♫ motif XS6, RD700GX
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To me, a good approach is to separate the building of scales (knowing the notes) from the technical aspect of actually playing them with both hands and at speed. I'd strive to learn the circle of fifths, and how the major and minor keys are placed around it. At this stage, you could play the scales with only one finger, if you like; the important thing is to *visualize* each scale as as a system of peaks and valleys (black and white keys).

Later, you'll learn the fingering for each scale and for both hands, practicing the pure technical/mechanical aspects with various kinds of exercises. :)

 

I tend to sympathize with your teacher about playing even the simplest tunes with expression and feel. However, Cydonia is right: If you are eager to progress on the technical side, just say it. A good teacher will recognize your needs.

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Originally posted by marino:

However, Cydonia is right: If you are eager to progress on the technical side, just say it. A good teacher will recognize your needs. [/QB]

I'm sorry but I must disagree :) Good teacher should know this from the very beginning what I need. That would be like telling your doctor what he should prescribe for you :D
♫♫♫ motif XS6, RD700GX
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Thanks for the insights and advice. I spoke at length with a new teacher today and have an 'interview' with her Sunday. I really liked that she wants to make sure we are a match before proceeding with lessons.

 

Just to clarify, it is not that I am disrespecting the methods of those I have taken lessons from thus far, I just have not found the 'one' yet. While I appreciate that they are trying to impart that the scales and technique are not the end but the means, I know that Evans and Jarrett couldn't pull off those runs without some serious drill practice!

 

For those of you who've been through the drill of memorizing all of your scales, please keep the tips on how to keep it interesting coming!

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Yea, practicing scales - no one really gave me any advice on how to approach this task. I set aside 50 minutes of my three hour daily routine for warm ups\technique. Each day is different but I do touch on scales on a somewhat regular basis.

 

There are only 12 major scales at the keyboard and there are seven days in the week. I don't know, perhaps working on two major scales per day during your warm up would knock out all of them in six days, right? You're not going to get them under your finger tips in one week, but over a period of many months or many years things will begin to take form. Think long term.

 

.... and don't forget the minor scales and their various flavors.

 

Don't forget to make your own exercises - play the scales in thirds, sixths ... contrary motion just to be .... contrary.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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Originally posted by delirium:

Originally posted by marino:

However, Cydonia is right: If you are eager to progress on the technical side, just say it. A good teacher will recognize your needs.

I'm sorry but I must disagree :) Good teacher should not this from the very beginning what I need. That would be like telling your doctor what he should prescribe for you :D [/QB]
Well - I would not be quite so drastic. I've learned thru many years of teaching that there are various ways and paces to reach a goal, *if* the teacher has the goal very clear in his mind and he's willing to put the extra effort into adapting a bit to the student's needs. The student should follow you - but not all students are created equal. Personally, when a student asks me to learn more about technique/theory/harmony, I'm happy; I find this kind of curiosity quite healthy. Usually, the contrary is much more common: They want to play more tunes, *without* going thru the technicalities and the understanding of what's actually going on in a piece... :D

 

Of course, this is a generalization; it's very possible that the student is not quite ready yet for what he wants to accomplish, so he just have to be patient and wait. It's a fine line; a good teacher has to know his students, and base his decisions on experience. In my own experience, I've noticed that talking clearly to the student is often the best strategy, saying things like, "You are not ready for this yet, you run the risk to get confused or to build an unsure technique; but if you concentrate on perfecting what you're doing now, the next level is coming in a short time". Usually, this helps to create a good, trusty atmosphere, which is essential for the teacher/student relationship to achieve good results.

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My .02$- Strive for EVENNESS in your (scale) practice. Play SLOWLY & EVENLY, speed will come in time. When I'm practicing scales, I use the metronome and play quarter notes 1 octave, then eighths 2 octaves, then triplet eighths 3 octaves and sixteenths 4 octaves, no breaks in between. Adjust your metronome tempo as proficiency increases. Stay diligent and good luck.
Never try to play anything live.
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I agree with others that your teacher should determine how you learn scales, as they should know best how to approach it.

 

But just FYI, this is what I would consider the 'standard' approach. Assuming you are a complete newbie you would start with C major, as it just has white keys. Start with hands separately over one octave. Then play hands together (one octave apart). Then move on to two octaves. Then move on to other keys, such as A minor and G major. etc. etc.

 

You needn't do it exactly in this order, but I hope you get the idea. It's basically start simple and progress from there.

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Scales - in the standard major, harmonic and melodic minor, formula pattern, 6th's and 10th's, etc.-- are probably most important for the classical pianist to master, where even & smooth technical proficiency is paramount. Probably less important for a rock and roller - as the phrase "Close enough for rock n' roll" would indicate!

 

The Royal Conservatory of Music (Canada) used to publish a nice book of scales, with the appropriate fingerings for each one. I'd recommend that one.

 

If you are into blues / jazz, though, you'll need a different reference.

Tom F.

"It is what it is."

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I didn't say they weren't important....I just said that you'll need a different reference book, delerium, as the Royal Conservatory book doesn't have any non-traditional scales in it, so it wouldn't be the one to buy if you were a blues/ jazz guy.

Tom F.

"It is what it is."

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