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The Importance of Scales

SCALES!  It’s almost a dirty word to most students.  Why do we have to learn them?  I hate practicing them!  Why can’t we just skip them?  It seems as if it is a battle ever week, doesn’t it?  I think if students understand the importance, they wouldn’t fight us so hard.

~Relationship between whole steps and half steps

                ~As a beginning student is introduced to whole and half steps, five-finger scales should be introduced.  This is a wonderful way to get the student to experience the difference in elevations on the keyboard (white and black keys) and it also keeps them from staying in a single hand position.

~Sense of tonality

                ~Most teachers begin their students with pieces that have a tonal center.  If the student is cognizant of the tonality within the five-finger scales, the process of learning these instructional (method) pieces will be more effective.  When the student plays incorrect notes, they will hear the difference and be able to adjust quickly.

~Identifies with Key Signature

                ~As the student progresses and becomes aware that music is written in keys, this is a simple correlation to their scale study.  I often interchange the two words key/scale when the student is young. 


                ~One of the most important elements to learning how to play scales is to implement the correct fingering.  This becomes helpful when scale passages occur within a piece.  All a teacher has to do is point out the passage is a scale and the student will automatically be able to play.

Please consider scale study with your students if you are not currently doing so.  I think it will bring a better understanding of structure to their lessons.

The Piano Curriculum Series LLC

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