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5 Reasons to Practice Scales

Posted by: david at 3:34 pm on September 18th, 2016

piano-scales.jpgFrom a very young age we are taught to play scales. We read them in our lessons books, play them for warm-ups before rehearsal, and are even judged in auditions by our ability to play them from memory. I think, too often, we lose sight of why teachers put so much emphasis on this musical element. Below are 5 areas in which you will benefit from by practicing major scales.

Rhythm
There is no better time to practice with a metronome than when you are playing scales. Start with an easy tempo like 60 beats per minute and play up and down the scale in half-notes. Then move on to quarter-notes, eighth-notes, and sixteenth-notes.

Intonation
One simple way to improve your intonation is to play your major scales along with a tuner. Start with the first note and do not move on to the next note until it is perfectly in tune. Continue this up and down the entire scale.

Technique
When you slur all of the notes of a scale you will be able to identify any flaws in your technique. One common problem on instruments such as clarinet, flute, and saxophone is when a change involves multiple fingers. Often times two fingers move at different speeds, producing an audible “blip” when you slur through your scales.

Tone
Practicing multi octave and full range scales gives you the opportunity to make your tone consistent across all registers. It is most beneficial when perfecting your tone to practice your scales while playing long tones. You can even face a wall to better hear how the sound is coming from the instrument.

Sight Reading
Virtually all the music that we listen to is somehow derived from the major scale. When you learn the major scale in all keys, and you practice its infinite variations then sight reading and playing by ear will be much easier.

So, next time you set down to practice your instrument, start off with some scales and focus on the 5 techniques we have just discussed. You will be amazed at how quickly you will notice the improvement in your playing. If you have any questions or would like to sign up for private lessons contact The Marion Music Academy at 319-377-3343.


david-arnold-live-solo.jpgA graduate of Luther College, David Arnold has been providing high quality private music lessons to students of all ages for over 15 years. His specialties include saxophone, guitar, and bass guitar. Drawing upon his diverse musical background, David provides a unique experience that merges his formal training in music with his professional performance experiences. Students will learn to be confident, well rounded musicians that are capable of performing in a wide array of musical settings.