STEP BY STEP METHOD ON HOW TO LEARN A NEW SCALE

From Pianostreet.com 
GOAL IS TO KNOW THE NOTES OF THE SCALE
SPEND AS MUCH TIME AS YOU NEED ON THE FIRST TWO STEPS
from pianostreet.com

1. One finger only, one octave, hands separate. Play the scale and say the notes you are playing aloud. (3 minutes)


2. Do the same but this time say aloud the interval you see between the notes. (3 minutes)

GOAL IS TO LEARN AND INGRAIN THE FINGERING, TO KEEP REINFORCING THE NOTES AND TO MASTER THUMB UNDER MOVEMENT

3. All fingers, two octaves, hands separate. (3 minutes)


GOAL IS TO MASTER A MOVEMENT TO PLAY SCALES AT FAST SPEED BY DISPLACING THE HAND LATERALLY

4. Play the notes of the scale in clusters (or chords), playing together as a chord fingers 123 and moving the hand laterally to play as a chord finger 1234. Do this over one, two, three and four octaves.


5. Now do step four again but this time you will “separate” the thumb. That is you play: 1 (alone) 23 (as a chord) 1 (alone) 234 (as a chord). This must be done two ways:

· pass thumb over by moving hand laterally for fast playing
· pass thumb under for slow legato playing

GOAL IS TO PLAY SCALES AT SLOW AND FAST TEMPO USING APPROPRIATE MOVEMENTS

6. Now play the scale normal hands separately over four octaves. Play slowly with thumb under method.


7. Now play the scale normal hands separately over four octaves. Play faster with the thumb over method. Carefully observe the movement patterns and you will eventually see/hear/feel why it is possible to play fast scales by passing thumb over.







8. Now you should start doing variations. Over four octaves hands separate only.
· play scale in dotted rhythms
· play scale fast-slow or slow-fast
· accent on every 2nd, 3rd or 4th note
· play scale legato, staccato and mezzo staccato
· play scale loud, soft, crescendo-diminuendo
· create a melodic line within the scale by accenting certain notes. You should be able to bring out the melody with the rest of the scale notes played in the background. (This is fun!)

9. Now play the scale hands separately, but play the scale starting on different notes but keep the same fingering.


10. Now play the chromatic scale of the chosen key four octaves up and down.


11. Now finally you can play the scale hands together but co-ordination can be a nightmare. I am now going to show you a way to overcome this by playing the scale hands together in groups of notes, overlapping the groups. This is a long practice session (20 minutes-1 hour) The good news is you will only have to do this once or twice for each scale and never practice this step again.

EXAMPLE C MAJOR HANDS TOGETHER (STEPS)

· play HT, correct fingers the notes C D hundreds of times (1-2 minutes you can fit in several hundred repetitions)
· move to D E HT (1-2 minutes)
· move to E F HT (1-2 minutes)
· move to F G HT (1-2 minutes)
· move to G A HT (1-2 minutes)
· move to A B HT (1-2 minutes)
· and finally move to B C HT (1-2 minutes)

· now do THREE notes, spending more time on difficult sequences: CDE – DEF – EFG – GAB – ABC

· now do FOUR notes: CDEF – DEFG – EFGA – FGAB – GABC

· Now do FIVE notes: CDEFG – DEFGA – EFGAB – FGABC

· Now do SIX notes: CDEFGA – DEFGAB – EFGABC

· Now do SEVEN notes: CDEFGAB – DEFGABC

You should now be able to play the scale perfectly hands together over one octave. Extend the system over two octaves. You do not have to do it for more than two octaves, since the other octaves will take care of themselves.

12. Now you should start doing variations. Over four octaves hands together.
· play scale in dotted rhythms
· play scale fast-slow or slow-fast
· accent on every 2nd, 3rd or 4th note
· play scale legato, staccato and mezzo staccato
· play scale loud, soft, crescendo-diminuendo
· create a melodic line within the scale by accenting certain notes. You should be able to bring out the melody with the rest of the scale notes played in the background. (This is fun!)

13. Play the scale in contrary motion


14. Play the scale in counterpoint: play one hand two octaves, the other hand one octave at half the speed. Alternate hands.


15. Play different scale in each hand


16. Play the scale with hands a 3rd and 6th apart

1. Speed of hands together will always be slower than speed with hands separate. If you want to increase speed of hands together, work on speed of hands separate first, and hands together will increase speed automatically. Work on the 70% rule: hands together speed is always 70% of hands separate. So set a speed for hands together, say 154. You will only be able to achieve that speed when you can play hands separate 220. Once you can do HS 220, you will find – perhaps to your amazement that HT are automatically playing at 154.

2. You must use a movement/set of movements that will allow you to play fast. You cannot play scales fast passing the thumb under. You must pass the thumb over. This issue has been already discussed at length in several threads of this forum. Try this one:

In fact all this talk of thumb over thumb under is misleading. Your arm should move your hand and fingers in place. If you are reaching for the keys with your fingers, they will be doing a monumental effort in pulling the arms. It must be the other way around. The fingers are responsible only for the vertical movement, the horizontal movement is done by the arm (think glissando).





3. Also remember that although you want the scale to sound even, for this to happen the movements must be uneven: you must slow down the 123 1234 fingers and speed up the 31 and 41 fingers. Ultimately the speed of your scales will be limited by how fast you can do 31 and 41. Doing 123 and 1234 fast is never a problem.

4. You must use a fingering that will allow you to play fast. The 3rd and 4th fingers of both hands should always play a black key (except of course in C major). Orthodox fingering follows this principle in the right hand, but rarely on the left hand where the 4th finger usually plays a white note. So you must change the fingering of the left hand. If you are using orthodox fingering, this is probably one of the main reasons why you cannot speed up your scales: the left hand is holding back the right hand.


5. Here is an example: G major over two octaves

Orthodox fingering:
RH 123 1234 123 12345 (4th finger goes on the black key)
LH – 54321 321 4321 321 (2nd finger goes on the black key, 4th finger on a white key)

More efficient fingering:

RH: 123 1234 123 12345 (as before)
LH: 321 321 4321 321 43 (now the 4th finger goes on the black key)

Practise this fingering well with separate hands until it is thoroughly ingrained. Then join hands and you will be amazed at how much comfortable it is.

You will easily figure out the fingering for all scales if you always follow this principle (there is only one possible fingering if you prioritize the 4th finger on a black key and then the 3rd.)

6. You must use practice strategies that aim at speed: playing the scale in chord clusters, playing the scale with rhythm variations (e.g. slow-fast and then fast slow), etc.
7. Perhaps most important of all, you should be able to do the scale fast mentally. If you hear it in your mind correctly, the fingers will comply.








More efficient fingerings: MAJOR SCALES
C
Rh: 123 1234 123 12345
Lh: 54321 321 4321 321

G
Rh: 123 1234 123 12345
Lh: 321 321 4321 321 43

F
Rh: 1234 123 1234 1234
Lh: 321 4321 321 4321 3

D
Rh: 123 1234 123 12345
Lh: 21 4321 321 4321 32

Bb
Rh: 4 123 1234 123 1234
Lh: 321 4321 321 4321 3

A
Rh: 123 1234 123 12345
Lh: 21 321 4321 321 432

Eb
Rh: 3 1234 123 1234 123
Lh: 321 4321 321 4321 3

E
Rh: 123 1234 123 12345
Lh: 54321 321 4321 321

Ab
Rh: 34 123 1234 123 123
Lh: 321 4321 321 4321 3

B
Rh: 123 1234 123 1234 1
Lh: 1 321 4321 321 4321

Db
Rh: 23 1234 123 1234 12
Lh: 321 4321 321 4321 3

Gb(F#)
Rh: 234 123 1234 123 12
Lh: 4321 321 4321 321 42




Minor scales (harmonic):

Am
Rh: 123 1234 123 12345
Lh: 321 321 4321 321 43

Em
Rh: 123 1234 123 12345
Lh: 54321 321 4321 321

Dm
Rh: 123 1234 123 12345
Lh: 54321 321 4321 321

Bm
Rh: 123 1234 123 12345
Lh: 1 321 4321 321 4321

Gm
Rh: 123 1234 123 12345
Lh: 21 321 4321 321 432

F#m
Rh: 34 123 1234 123 123
Lh: 4321 321 4321 321 4

Cm
Rh: 234 123 1234 123 12
Lh: 21 321 4321 321 432

C#m
Rh: 34 123 1234 123 123
Lh: 321 4321 321 4321 3

Fm
Rh: 1234 123 1234 123 1
Lh: 21 321 4321 321 432

G#m
Rh: 34 123 1234 123 123
Lh: 321 4321 321 4321 3

Bbm
Rh: 4 123 1234 123 1234
Lh: 21 321 4321 321 432

D#m
Rh: 3 1234 123 1234 123
Lh: 21 4321 321 4321 32





REMEMBER THAT THE ABOVE STEPS MUST BE DONE FOR EACH AND EVERY SCALE BUT YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO DO ALL THAT IN ONE EVENING. THIS WILL TAKE 2-3 YEARS. THIS IS YOUR LONG TERM GOAL. YOUR JOB IS TO ORGANIZE THE ABOVE PLAN INTO SMALL CHUNKS IN YOUR DAILY PRACTISE AND MAKE SURE IT WILL ADD UP IN A COUPLE OF YEARS TIME. CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY.

ARPEGGIOS MUST BE TREATED IN THE SAME WAY.

From Pianostreet.com 

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