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#1251585 - 08/18/09 07:41 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: ProdigalPianist]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: ProdigalPianist
In other issues...while it is true that most beginning theory classes probably involve some sort of piano/keyboard lab so that there is a visual reference for the concepts being discussed, I am not particularly comfortable with a totally "piano-centric" approach to theory. I knew enough other instrument and voice majors in college to understand that conceptualizations of theory that were totally piano-centric were limiting and...really...irritated non-pianist musicians wink


AAGH YES YES YES I feel like an idiot for only just getting a grip on the idea of the Pythagorean comma. It's got to be the coolest thing EVER, and studying on a piano puts it so far under the radar that I remained ignorant of it for ages.

Anyone who doesn't know that the circle of fifths doesn't actually close shouldn't be teaching.


Edited by J Cortese (08/18/09 07:44 PM)
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#1251599 - 08/18/09 08:02 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: J Cortese]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: J Cortese


AAGH YES YES YES I feel like an idiot for only just getting a grip on the idea of the Pythagorean comma. It's got to be the coolest thing EVER, and studying on a piano puts it so far under the radar that I remained ignorant of it for ages.

Anyone who doesn't know that the circle of fifths doesn't actually close shouldn't be teaching.

I'm not sure what you are talking about with "close". Are you talking about the reason behind tempered 5ths?
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#1251603 - 08/18/09 08:14 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Gary D.]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: J Cortese
Anyone who doesn't know that the circle of fifths doesn't actually close shouldn't be teaching.

I'm not sure what you are talking about with "close". Are you talking about the reason behind tempered 5ths?


Yup -- how, if you go up by twelve perfect fifths (where perfect is the 3:2 ratio), you overshoot seven perfect 2:1 octaves. The numbers are easy as pie, but I finally sat down and read up on it, and it hit me like a hammer. Wait a minute ... the circle of fifths lands you seven octaves above where you were!

Except it doesn't.

It's just amazingly cool. This is what I meant when I said YES YES YES to the whole statement that a piano-centric approach to music theory isn't the only or even best way to approach it, and I can see why it would annoy other instrument players.


Edited by J Cortese (08/18/09 08:17 PM)
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#1251606 - 08/18/09 08:27 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: J Cortese]
Gerry Armstrong Offline
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Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 214
Loc: Cumbernauld, Scotland
Hence the reason why you should always get a professional to tune your Piano, and never have a go yourself with an ETD and a calculator!! grin
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#1251609 - 08/18/09 08:32 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Gerry Armstrong]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
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Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Gerry Armstrong
Hence the reason why you should always get a professional to tune your Piano, and never have a go yourself with an ETD and a calculator!! grin


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#1251611 - 08/18/09 08:37 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Gerry Armstrong]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: Gerry Armstrong
Hence the reason why you should always get a professional to tune your Piano, and never have a go yourself with an ETD and a calculator!! grin


I'm just glad I don't have to get a G by opening the thing up, pressing down on the C strings 2/3rd of the way up, and hitting the C again!
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#1251630 - 08/18/09 09:08 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: J Cortese]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: J Cortese


Yup -- how, if you go up by twelve perfect fifths (where perfect is the 3:2 ratio), you overshoot seven perfect 2:1 octaves. The numbers are easy as pie, but I finally sat down and read up on it, and it hit me like a hammer. Wait a minute ... the circle of fifths lands you seven octaves above where you were!

Except it doesn't.

It's just amazingly cool. This is what I meant when I said YES YES YES to the whole statement that a piano-centric approach to music theory isn't the only or even best way to approach it, and I can see why it would annoy other instrument players.

You have no idea what a can of worms you are opening up. smile

I'm assuming you have never listened carefully to 5ths on a piano, after just being very well tuned, to hear the slow beat that indicates it has been tuned just a wee bit flat, to cancel out the problem you have mentioned.

You don't have to end up 7 octaves high. Multiply by 3/2 for the first fifth, then 3/4 to get an octave down from the next. Continue in the same manner, but use 3/4 for the last two. You will end up almost at your starting point, but at 446 and change.

446.0030365/440=1.0136432648

And there you go. smile
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#1251639 - 08/18/09 09:18 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: J Cortese]
jotur Online   blank
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Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5659
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I wholeheartedly agree about non-piano-centric music theory, and I think it can be introduced from very early on. Many students play in band or sing in choir, and, at least to me, the differences in what pitches can be produced by what instrument can be a lead-in to it. Music is, to me, about sound and rhythm. I knew for *years* that barbershop quartets and gospel groups sang harmony that I couldn't reproduce on my piano, at least not if it was tuned in any way I'd ever heard it tuned. But I didn't know what that difference was until much later.

Similarly, the day I figured out that a major scale was *not* a series of individual pitches which can be played on keys on a piano or particular fingerings on some other instrument was a good day for me. It opened up a whole new understanding of music building blocks - including the circle of fifths and, eventually, the Pythagorean comma. The circle of fifths isn't, by any stretch of the imagination, a consequence of 5-finger positions on a piano, and I pity some poor kid who tries to convince a guitar player that has any knowledge that it is, much less try to explain to a guitar player who is tuning to what he hears of fifths why his last string is sharp. Can 5-finger positions be a part of the education towards understanding theory? Yes, but they aren't the theory. And the theory long-pre-dates the piano.

The whole concept of major and minor scales as a series of intervals lead to a much wider appreciation of scales - in the folk music based in Western Europe, in music of Eastern Europe (which I dance to often), in music of Asian countries, in jazz.

This is a piano forum. But teaching students *music* is a wider subject, and I think teachers here want to teach music, and not just pressing keys in response to what the eye sees on the staff paper. And, at least to me, piano is embedded in the much much broader subject of music, and is *not* the be-all and end-all of either music or music theory. Certainly not the only way to teach theory, and many times not the best way to do so.

I do think there's a lot of math, science, and physics involved in music theory. It's why I don't think the piano is the ultimate way to teach it. It's why, when I'm discussing music with other people I don't discuss it from a piano-centric viewpoint. Including when I'm talking to young students who are learning piano. After all, some of their parents are playing banjo in the same band with me laugh They are not too young to understand that what they are learning is a subset of what there is to learn.

Someone asked in another thread what most teachers would think if they got a student whose teacher had taught them that curled fingers were the only way to play piano, and the implication was that we'd mostly be dismayed. I feel exactly the same way when someone says that natural notes are the white keys on the piano. Sorry. That's just the way I feel. I'm dismayed.

So perhaps we're a little closer to being back on topic here smile

Cathy
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#1251642 - 08/18/09 09:22 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Gary D.]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13818
Loc: Iowa City, IA
WARNING:

Tuning is the 3rd RAIL of internet forums. I have never, EVER, seen a discussion about tuning remain friendly. When people start talking ratios and Hertz, I am GONE.

Run! Run for your lives while you still can!

Don't misunderstand me. Tuning is really cool, and the science of acoustics is a fascinating field of study. But on piano forums, it's EVIL. EVIL I SAY! laugh
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#1251645 - 08/18/09 09:29 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Kreisler]
jotur Online   blank
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Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5659
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
LOL.

Cathy
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#1251693 - 08/18/09 10:54 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Gary D.]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: J Cortese


Yup -- how, if you go up by twelve perfect fifths (where perfect is the 3:2 ratio), you overshoot seven perfect 2:1 octaves.
...
It's just amazingly cool.


You have no idea what a can of worms you are opening up. smile


Whoops, sorry. :-D

Quote:

I'm assuming you have never listened carefully to 5ths on a piano, after just being very well tuned, to hear the slow beat that indicates it has been tuned just a wee bit flat, to cancel out the problem you have mentioned.


You have no idea how out of tune the thing I played on was. To this day, I'm very forgiving with pianos, but can tell if a guitar or voice is a zillionth of a semitone flat or sharp.
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#1251695 - 08/18/09 10:55 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Kreisler]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
WARNING:

Tuning is the 3rd RAIL of internet forums. I have never, EVER, seen a discussion about tuning remain friendly. When people start talking ratios and Hertz, I am GONE.

Run! Run for your lives while you still can!


*flails arms and heads for the hills*

:-)
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#1251709 - 08/18/09 11:25 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Gyro]
Manachi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/09
Posts: 90
Loc: Sydney, Australia
(Disclaimer: this is just my opinion and experience - you're probably better off listening to the more experienced teachers etc in here for technical answers.)

When I first started learning I didn't enjoy scales... Now days they are the #1 most intruiging part of music there is. The circle of fifths, modes, the patterns you start to see. I think it's beneficial to try and see them in a positive light. If you're doing them and hating them, what's the point?

These are the building blocks of music! Everything is based on them. A master of scales is a master of music. If you learn to repeat pieces of music one after the other without understanding the theory behind them, you'll eventually lose motivation (I did). If you understand the language behind it, it can become a lifelong passion. It will become second nature. Repeating/mimicking a phrase in a different language doesn't mean you can speak the language. A budgie can do that. But learning the langauge properly means you can say anything. Which is it you want to be able to do?

I actually believe that one of the previous posts about practising the blues or pentatonic scales and improvising over other music is a very good idea, and might well be enough to trigger interest? I know for me it certainly was the turning point. It's when you realise 'wow', that improvising I so often here, is just one (or two) scales? This single scale opens so many opportunities.

Could it also perhaps be partially related to an age thing? ie. being able to appreciate the theory?

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#1251716 - 08/18/09 11:47 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: jotur]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: jotur

Similarly, the day I figured out that a major scale was *not* a series of individual pitches which can be played on keys on a piano or particular fingerings on some other instrument was a good day for me. It opened up a whole new understanding of music building blocks - including the circle of fifths and, eventually, the Pythagorean comma. The circle of fifths isn't, by any stretch of the imagination, a consequence of 5-finger positions on a piano, and I pity some poor kid who tries to convince a guitar player that has any knowledge that it is, much less try to explain to a guitar player who is tuning to what he hears of fifths why his last string is sharp.

I started playing brass only three years after starting piano, and I actually taught it more than piano for a decade more or more. *If* I am forced to approach theory only from the POV of one instrument, I would probably use piano/keyboard. But it would frustrate me.

However, let's not forget that the frets on guitars are more or less based on equal temperament too, at least those made to play traditional western music. The reason is pretty obvious: any pitch played on any fret, using any string, has to smoothly blend into all 12 keys, and modulation happens just as fast on guitar as on piano.

The peculiar idiosyncracies of wind instruments bring in a whole universe of special problems, but also different colors. Violin (and other string instruments) together with voice offer the most freedom to play with pitch.

The problem with going to far with piano only is that at some point there are so many things that are not possible on piano.
Quote:

This is a piano forum. But teaching students *music* is a wider subject, and I think teachers here want to teach music, and not just pressing keys in response to what the eye sees on the staff paper. And, at least to me, piano is embedded in the much much broader subject of music, and is *not* the be-all and end-all of either music or music theory. Certainly not the only way to teach theory, and many times not the best way to do so.

I don't see why anyone would say that teaching theory through piano is the only way to teach theory, but I do believe that certain areas of theory are easiest to undertand with a thorough knowledge of keyboard. You see this if you play several instruments plus piano when talking to people who have very little knowledge of piano (or keyboards). The idea of grabbing whole groups of notes at the same time is a huge piano advantage.

Now, having said that, my friends who play ONLY piano, and who don't sing, simply don't understand other things that are extremely important to me. So it cuts both ways.
Quote:

I do think there's a lot of math, science, and physics involved in music theory. It's why I don't think the piano is the ultimate way to teach it. It's why, when I'm discussing music with other people I don't discuss it from a piano-centric viewpoint. Including when I'm talking to young students who are learning piano. After all, some of their parents are playing banjo in the same band with me laugh They are not too young to understand that what they are learning is a subset of what there is to learn.

The other side of this is the huge block in trying to explain to people peculiarities of instruments with which they have zero "hands on experience". Imagine explaining to beginning piansts what it feels like to have to relax for low notes, or use extra support and the diaphram, or to fine tune notes with the lips, or fingers, or vocal apparatus. Or what it feels like to run out of air, to HAVE to breathe, and what breathing addes to music. And so on.
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#1251717 - 08/18/09 11:49 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Kreisler]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
WARNING:

Tuning is the 3rd RAIL of internet forums. I have never, EVER, seen a discussion about tuning remain friendly. When people start talking ratios and Hertz, I am GONE.

Run! Run for your lives while you still can!

Don't misunderstand me. Tuning is really cool, and the science of acoustics is a fascinating field of study. But on piano forums, it's EVIL. EVIL I SAY! laugh

LOL!!!

Strangely, I think you will find that people who have used a lot of tuning systems and who have at least experimented with music that has very different ideas of in and out of tune are rather open-minded. wink
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#1251720 - 08/18/09 11:53 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Gary D.]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
For all:

Earlier Nyiregyhazi said:
Quote:

I have a follow-up question:

I do not teach the standard fingering for F sharp minor, because I find it vastly illogical.

I've been trying to figure out what his point was all night. Does anyone else see it? The standard fingering I'm familiar with seems to make more sense than any alternative…
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#1251725 - 08/19/09 12:00 AM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Gary D.]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
"I have yet to understand what a "343" pattern scale is…"

Thumb under 3, thumb under 4, thumb under 3- and 3 over the thumb, 4 over the thumb, 3 over the thumb. Anything else is essentially extraneous information that merely distracts from the key movements. Even the thumb is the same every time, so it's simplest to describe the differing fingers that coincide with it's use. Obviously 1 1 1 means nothing, but 343 alone is a very simple way of covering that which requires thought, without the distraction of that which you really don't need to waste mentally energy on. This order covers all white keys except f and B. I'm amazed that anyone would complicate matters by deviating from that pattern for such simple scales. It really seems like madness, not to start off with this simple premise.

"Again, I agree. Either extreme is wrong. One extreme is to guide students by giving them advanced and non-conventional fingerings before they have understood basic fingering. In general (with some unusual exceptions) I am against this. The other extreme is to teach ONLY the conventional fingerings then leave students to work out all others, on their own, at best relying on editors without understanding the logic the editors are using."

Perhaps I misread your point. By no means was I implying that you own teaching methods are slack, but it was that you mentioned that you had never learned proper fingerings in your youth- as though is a completely acceptable situation for anyone to be in. Perhaps you were lucky and intelligent enough to thrive regardless, but can this ever be seen as an ideal situation to find yourself in? Frankly, any teacher ought to check the student knows the most convenient fingerings properly. Then you can start to think of finding alternatives, if there is just cause. I didn't read your post as endorsing the idea of letting a student just do whatever they chance upon, but it did seem a little overly tolerant as this as an 'alternative'- as opposed to something that is really a failure to convey what a student ought to be told.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (08/19/09 12:13 AM)
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#1251727 - 08/19/09 12:03 AM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Gary D.]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
For all:

Earlier Nyiregyhazi said:
Quote:

I have a follow-up question:

I do not teach the standard fingering for F sharp minor, because I find it vastly illogical.

I've been trying to figure out what his point was all night. Does anyone else see it? The standard fingering I'm familiar with seems to make more sense than any alternative…


I relate it to A major fingering, just as C sharp minor is related to E major fingering. The thumbs anchor around the relative major, making an easy reference point for a regular 3-4-3 pattern in each hand. Aside from raised 7ths, it's literally the same scales as the majors. Why piss around with a new fingering for F sharp minor, but not C sharp minor? They are entirely equivalent. Physically, the official fingering does not feel any more or less comfortable. However, it introduces considerably greater mental difficulty- for no reason I have yet managed to uncover. For young students, I see no reason to impose a unique coordination between hands (that relates to no single other scale), when a very simple one is available.

PS. I also get students to practise these scales by playing the relative major first. Then changing the raised 7th- while still beginning from the note of the relative major. When you realise how little is changed, it's easy to then go back to playing from the black note. Any student who can play A and E can learn F sharp minor and C sharp minor within a matter of minutes. The 'correct' fingering for F sharp minor leaves no point of reference between thumbs- hence vastly more work to acquire a coordination that is simply not necessary.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (08/19/09 12:21 AM)
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#1251732 - 08/19/09 12:26 AM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Ferdinand Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/23/07
Posts: 945
Loc: California


Edited by Ferdinand (08/19/09 01:45 AM)

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#1251767 - 08/19/09 02:55 AM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Quote:

I relate it to A major fingering, just as C sharp minor is related to E major fingering. The thumbs anchor around the relative major, making an easy reference point for a regular 3-4-3 pattern in each hand. Aside from raised 7ths, it's literally the same scales as the majors. Why piss around with a new fingering for F sharp minor, but not C sharp minor? They are entirely equivalent.

They most definitely are not.

The E major scale in the LH uses the least number of thumb turns for a one octave scale, starting from the tonic, but it also follows the very logical rule of turning from a white to black note, thumb turns. Four crosses over to F#, then three crosses over to C#. So using the same fingering for the relative minor makes perfect sense.

The A major scale in the LH also uses the least number of thumb turns for a one octave scale, starting from the tonic, which makes sense for speed when starting from the tonic, for that very reason.

However, it forces the fourth to cross over to B, a white note. The rule of least thumb turns trumps the rule of passing from black to white (or white to black). A less comfortable fingering is balanced against fewer thumb turns.

That advantage totally disappears in the relative minor. With the conventional fingering of 4 on F# and 3 on C#, which is true for natural, harmonic and melodic, the smoothest fingering is used, but no advantage is lost—because you can't start on five for that scale.
Quote:

Physically, the official fingering does not feel any more or less comfortable.

Yes, it does, for the reasons I just mentioned. Your thinking is faulty here.
Quote:

However, it introduces considerably greater mental difficulty- for no reason I have yet managed to uncover. For young students, I see no reason to impose a unique coordination between hands (that relates to no single other scale), when a very simple one is available.

You avoid an immediate problem, which I agree is a tough, but later a second best fingering will be internalized. Granted, there are few times when hands together will need to rip up and down the piano for several octaves, which is yet another reason why the reasoning BEHIND scale fingerings should be examined carefully for passage work.
Quote:

PS. I also get students to practise these scales by playing the relative major first. Then changing the raised 7th- while still beginning from the note of the relative major. When you realise how little is changed, it's easy to then go back to playing from the black note. Any student who can play A and E can learn F sharp minor and C sharp minor within a matter of minutes. The 'correct' fingering for F sharp minor leaves no point of reference between thumbs- hence vastly more work to acquire a coordination that is simply not necessary.

Yes, but: this is a short-cut for passing scale exams.

The conventional F# minor fingering for the LH puts thumbs on B and E or E#, depending on type of minor.

RH puts thumbs on A and D for F# natural minor but A and E# for harmonic and melodic, ascending, also highlight how artificial melodic minor is as the RH must come down with a different fingering.

The conventional fingerings stress WHY those fingerings are chosen, and since scales almost never happen going up and down four octaves at a time in the "Hanon" type presentation, simplifying fingerings for ease of hands together is sloppy instruction.


Edited by Gary D. (08/19/09 02:56 AM)
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#1251771 - 08/19/09 03:18 AM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi

Thumb under 3, thumb under 4, thumb under 3- and 3 over the thumb, 4 over the thumb, 3 over the thumb. Anything else is essentially extraneous information that merely distracts from the key movements. Even the thumb is the same every time, so it's simplest to describe the differing fingers that coincide with it's use. Obviously 1 1 1 means nothing, but 343 alone is a very simple way of covering that which requires thought, without the distraction of that which you really don't need to waste mentally energy on. This order covers all white keys except f and B. I'm amazed that anyone would complicate matters by deviating from that pattern for such simple scales. It really seems like madness, not to start off with this simple premise.

If you had written 3434 or 4343, I would have guessed your meaning. Please do not assume that other people are morons because they don't read your mind. I teach the "white scales" other than F and B as those that have the thumbs meet once per octave and not meet the other time, always opposing with 1 against 2 or 2 against 1. The thumbs can also be described as falling on the the first and fourth note of each scale, in the RH, and the first and fifth, in the LH.

But I explain that Ab follows the same pattern because the thumbs fall on the same notes as in the C scale.

I teach F, B, Db and Gb as another "set", easiest because the thumbs always meet (hands together).

That takes care of 10.

So I put great stress on Eb and Bb, which are different from all the others. The thumbs never meet.


For the benefit of those reading, one always meets with two in Eb. Bb is worse. Once per octave one meets with two, the other time one with three. In a scale audition for majors, if something goes wrong, it usually is one of those two scales, for students who have practiced all of them.
Quote:

Perhaps I misread your point. By no means was I implying that you own teaching methods are slack, but it was that you mentioned that you had never learned proper fingerings in your youth- as though is a completely acceptable situation for anyone to be in.

You need to learn to read and not read things into posts that are not there. Why in the name of heaven would you assume that the way I was taught, badly, reflects my own way of teaching? I was not bragging about nailing down the scales later. I was reporting what happened to me. The point is that the moment I began practicing them, I analyzed WHY the fingerings were what they were. We don't all have the luxury of excellent teachers when we are young. My teacher just gave them to me. It was left totally up to me to work out the whys behind the dos.
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Perhaps you were lucky and intelligent enough to thrive regardless, but can this ever be seen as an ideal situation to find yourself in?

Of course not.
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Frankly, any teacher ought to check the student knows the most convenient fingerings properly. Then you can start to think of finding alternatives, if there is just cause. I didn't read your post as endorsing the idea of letting a student just do whatever they chance upon, but it did seem a little overly tolerant as this as an 'alternative'- as opposed to something that is really a failure to convey what a student ought to be told.

"Overly tolerant?":)

If anything I am so obsessive about intelligent fingering in my own teaching that at times I fear I risk giving too much help. There is a razor's edge between being too lax about fingering (producing deadly technical flaws) and too careful (in which case a student may not be able to solve problems independently later on).
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#1251800 - 08/19/09 07:58 AM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3250
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
"I have yet to understand what a "343" pattern scale is…"

Thumb under 3, thumb under 4, thumb under 3- and 3 over the thumb, 4 over the thumb, 3 over the thumb. Anything else is essentially extraneous information that merely distracts from the key movements.


When looking for the minimum information, we need to be careful not to err on the side of too little as well.

I did not understand the 343 description. I assumed it was an ideosyncratic shorthand for the idea that all scale fingering is just a repeat pattern of 1231234. (So far, nobody has argued against the 1231234 theory; I'll continue to assume that is correct until refuted.)

I see now there is an implicit rule contained in the 343 shorthand. Yes, one uses 1231234, but when choosing the starting finger, one seeks to minimize number of times the thumb is passed. I think that is what Mr. N is saying? I was working with an alternate "rule," match fingers 2 and 3 to the black keys.

Why rules? Children beginners are just told to memorize the fingering. Adults ask why. It is not because we are obstructionist, though I suspect teachers conclude that. It is because our memories have faded, and we can recall much better in context. I rotate through the scales one key signature a week, and some keys I have to figure out anew every time. If I didn't have the rule I'd have to look it up every time.

I think Mr. K's idea of thumbs meeting is very helpful to children learning these patterns. It adds an additional anchor point. I suspect it's too noncontextual to be very useful to adult beginners. For me it adds a rote memory step that is difficult.

If the rule is to minimize thumb passes, there are many exceptions. It doesn't work if you play a scale greater than one octave in length (rarely found in the repertoire though). It doesn't work if you play scales as modes - starting on different degrees of the scale but retaining the major scale fingering. And if you use it for scale fragments you will have to vary from the standard fingering.

But it is easy to remember and workable. I think if Mr. N applied it consistently he too would vary from the traditional "standard" fingering. Actually, doesn't any rule based system suggest deviation from the standard?
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#1251802 - 08/19/09 08:06 AM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Gary D.]
TimR Offline
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Registered: 08/17/04
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Originally Posted By: Gary D.

I'm assuming you have never listened carefully to 5ths on a piano, after just being very well tuned, to hear the slow beat that indicates it has been tuned just a wee bit flat, to cancel out the problem you have mentioned.



But that's not why.

Well, it is why, sort of, but it isn't all of why.

Yes, tuning to ET would result in a slow beat somewhere, if all you were tuning were the fundamentals.

But we don't tune a piano to ET. We have to tune a piano to sound as if it were tuned to ET, but that requires stretching away from ET.

A piano string is not limp. It is a thin steel bar, and it is equally as stiff as an I beam in a skyscraper. (just thinner) That means the upper harmonics don't have a simple relationship, unlike organ pipes or trombones. (that's called inharmonicity) So if you tune the fundamentals to ET, your overtones will clash. To avoid that you tune the fundamentals slightly away from ET, reducing the clash somewhat. And adding another source of slow beat.
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#1251808 - 08/19/09 08:36 AM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Gary D.]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
"The E major scale in the LH uses the least number of thumb turns for a one octave scale, starting from the tonic, but it also follows the very logical rule of turning from a white to black note, thumb turns. Four crosses over to F#, then three crosses over to C#. So using the same fingering for the relative minor makes perfect sense.

The A major scale in the LH also uses the least number of thumb turns for a one octave scale, starting from the tonic, which makes sense for speed when starting from the tonic, for that very reason."


So if a student can play A major with no problems, precisely why should this cause difficulties within the context of F sharp minor? A major really is not a hard scale. I regard the mentally difficulty of changing to an alternate fingering as wholly unecessary. Having practised both, neither causes me any particular problem. However, I would personally say that the cramped position of the hand (from 3 on the C sharp) is probably more uncomfortable than in the A major alternative. That which is supposedly flawed- not turning onto a black note is exactly the same as A major anyway. If you can deal this for fewer thumb turns why not deal with in favour of more natural coordinations?




"Yes, but: this is a short-cut for passing scale exams.

The conventional F# minor fingering for the LH puts thumbs on B and E or E#, depending on type of minor.

RH puts thumbs on A and D for F# natural minor but A and E# for harmonic and melodic, ascending, also highlight how artificial melodic minor is as the RH must come down with a different fingering.

The conventional fingerings stress WHY those fingerings are chosen, and since scales almost never happen going up and down four octaves at a time in the "Hanon" type presentation, simplifying fingerings for ease of hands together is sloppy instruction."


Well, I'm a "sloppy" instructor then. I utterly dispute your claim that that the standard fingering is inherently more comfortable. If you find turning the 4th finger in A major to be particularly 'uncomfortable' to get your fingers around, then you might have a point. I certainly don't, however. Unless A major is inherently uncomfortable to play, then I really struggle to see how you can possibly claim my fingering (which is designed precisely for ease of hands together playing) to be 'sloppy'. The idea that this fingering is uncomfortable simply does not hold up.

Having practised both fingerings, I honestly believe that the cramped position that comes from having 3 to turn onto C sharp is vastly more uncomfortable than the A major standard. I prefer turning the 3-2 over onto two black notes. They are easier to line up in an instant. The fourth finger on B gives an opportunity to prepare the hand for what is otherwise a slightly more awkward C sharp to D. I really cannot see how there is a significant physical advantage with either. However, in terms of comfort, I'm actually slightly towards the A major fingering, for these reasons. And in terms of logic, it wins hands down...


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (08/19/09 11:42 AM)
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#1251817 - 08/19/09 09:02 AM Re: I hate scales! [Re: TimR]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
"When looking for the minimum information, we need to be careful not to err on the side of too little as well."

Sure, I should have clarified it here. Obviously I explain fully when teaching, but once the kid understands the basic 123123412312345 etc. anything beyond that is just a waste of thought. With prior understanding, 343 conveys everything that needs to be known, without mental energy being wasted on that which does not require it.

"I think Mr. K's idea of thumbs meeting is very helpful to children learning these patterns. It adds an additional anchor point. I suspect it's too noncontextual to be very useful to adult beginners. For me it adds a rote memory step that is difficult."

343 doesn't take much learning. Anything that is based around the layout of black keys on the piano has exceptions. The rule of 4 on B flat and 3 on E flat for rh flat scales is useful, but I prefer to avoid thinking primarily in terms of anything much beyond anchoring around the tonic note and using 343, except for scales that necessitate it. Adults should respond well to such a simple approach.

"But it is easy to remember and workable. I think if Mr. N applied it consistently he too would vary from the traditional "standard" fingering. Actually, doesn't any rule based system suggest deviation from the standard?"

Sure, but if you realise that around 85% (perhaps more) of scales relate to one of two patterns- 343 or thumbs ALWAYS together (including F major and minor, B major and minor, D d flat, B flat minor, F sharp major, E flat minor) it saves a hell of a lot of diverse thought about things that are really side-issues, rather than the primary issue that governs fingering. Once you have these covered, you can learn the variants that occur out of necessity.

The only scales that are not covered (if you use my A major fingering for F sharp minor- which stand by both in terms of comfort and convenience) by either 343 with anchored thumbs, or thumbs ALWAYS together principles are G sharp minor, B flat and E flat. A flat major is 343, when conceived from the reference point of the thumbs together on C. C sharp minor and F sharp minor are 343 patterns from the note of the relative major. The only non-standard fingering I use is for F sharp minor.

So there we have it! Two simple rules based on coinciding thumbs cover EVERY scale execept for 3 (or 4 if you insist on the standard pattern for F sharp minor)!

So why go to all the trouble of these confusing rules that have countless exceptions? Considering how overwhelming the trend towards these two patterns is, obviously this was the primary issue when these fingerings were devised- above the issue of certain fingers on certain black keys (which comes into play within the exceptions when these basic patterns do not work). Only in conventional F sharp minor is this basis dropped, from anything other than outright necessity.

PS Just to clarify- the constant thumb together rule is based on planning to the next thumb. Once you've memorised the two notes for the scale, you merely think how far away the next one is, and give an according number of fingers- to correspond with that distance. No brain-dead rote memorization other than the thumb notes (which are usually F and C). The student starts very slowly and has to actively think for themself about what fingers are required. When they understand why they need a certain number of fingers (ie to ensure that thumbs always meet up) the learning is very secure.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (08/19/09 10:15 AM)
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#1251842 - 08/19/09 10:07 AM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Gary D.]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
"If you had written 3434 or 4343, I would have guessed your meaning. Please do not assume that other people are morons because they don't read your mind. I teach the "white scales" other than F and B as those that have the thumbs meet once per octave and not meet the other time, always opposing with 1 against 2 or 2 against 1. The thumbs can also be described as falling on the the first and fourth note of each scale, in the RH, and the first and fifth, in the LH."

Please don't assume that I assumed anyone to be a moron. Where did I criticise anyone for not understanding? Apologies for not having defined it, but I don't think there's any need to start feeding such words into my mouth, simply because I did not clarify myself. It's not 3434 though. The last four is not significant. I only refer to those that are accompanied by a thumb. Any running of fingers doesn't need to be over-analysed. Only the turning motions are of great significance, when looking at the key points.

"But I explain that Ab follows the same pattern because the thumbs fall on the same notes as in the C scale.

I teach F, B, Db and Gb as another "set", easiest because the thumbs always meet (hands together).

That takes care of 10.

So I put great stress on Eb and Bb, which are different from all the others. The thumbs never meet."


Interesting. I think we've come to very similar conclusions. I hadn't read this before my other post, but I we've looked at much the same things. G sharp minor is also a unique coordination, like those two.


"For the benefit of those reading, one always meets with two in Eb. Bb is worse. Once per octave one meets with two, the other time one with three. In a scale audition for majors, if something goes wrong, it usually is one of those two scales, for students who have practiced all of them."

I teach that (on black notes) 3 always comes with 4 and 4 always comes with 3 in that one. The hands never meet up. Basically, it's always the finger you least expect.


"You need to learn to read and not read things into posts that are not there. Why in the name of heaven would you assume that the way I was taught, badly, reflects my own way of teaching?"

Umm, isn't that a somewhat ironic response to my sentence that read "By no means was I implying that your own teaching methods are slack". I never suggested a thing about your own teaching. I said that your post struck me as a little overly tolerant of others who might use slack methods. I'm sorry, but you're the one who is reading things into posts, if you took personal offence. I was simply saying that I do not think failing to learn simple scale fingerings is a particularly wise 'road to Rome', as you put it. Just because I feel that some roads to Rome CAN be rather more direct than others, does not mean that I was commenting upon the success or failings of your own method. It really wasn't even in my mind.


What I disagreed with was this (from Kreisler, I think):

some people like to be very systematic in their approach to technical training, others tend to look for it in repertoire or exercises chosen or invented "as needed."

I haven't noticed anything to suggest one way is better than another.


To which you were adding you agreement- surely implying that your not having learned any scale fingerings is no better or worse than having learned them earlier on? You didn't previous make it terribly clear that you see not having learned standard fingerings as having been a worse way to go, when raising that point. I any case, I was arguing solely against being too tolerant of teaching that does not convey fingerings (as if it's merely a 'different' approach). Not against you, or your personal method. Seeing as it obviously IS NOT your method, why would you feel that it was directed at you? Please don't assume that merely because I was replying to your post, everything in it was aimed at you personally. I simply felt it is important to stress that although scales are only are beginning, as you said, they ARE an important beginning. If you're in agreement with my stressing that they are a beginning but not an end then why are you reading my post as being an attack on you- and asking such an inaccurately assumptive question as:

"Why in the name of heaven would you assume that the way I was taught, badly, reflects my own way of teaching?"

I am sorry if you chose to think that was implied, but I was simply discussing the issues- primarily through agreement with you. I was certainly not making personal accusations. If you had stated that you are a teacher who does not believe in teaching any fingerings, I would have attacked you specifically and made it absolutely clear that I was referring to you and your methods in particular. However seeing as you did not, I neither assumed that you would believe such things and nor did I write anything that attributed such beliefs to you. You should not just assume that anything that is stated in a generalised, open discussion is supposed to be a personal attack. I particularly struggle to see why my statements of views that are largely very similar to your own would make you see a personal accusation.

Earlier on you said "You appear to be disagreeing with me, but I do exactly the same thing."

Well, I wan't particularly disagreeing with much said at all. I was following up on your point with one of my own. If you can only interpret somebody else chipping with a few generalised points as though it were a specific attack on you, it's going to put something of a limiter on discussion.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (08/19/09 02:04 PM)
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#1251854 - 08/19/09 10:34 AM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13818
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I'm with N on this one:

3's together (C, G, D, A, E, Ab)

1's together (F, B, F#, Db)

Weird (Eb, Bb)
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#1251900 - 08/19/09 11:54 AM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Kreisler]
J Cortese Offline
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Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
You know, I've been thinking about this more, and I think the most sensible answer to whether I've heard slow beats in a fifth on a piano is ... compared to what? I think a tempered fifth can be heard best compared to a perfect one. At the age I was learning, no one ever used to word "tempered" with me, so I wouldn't have even known that any slow fluctuation I heard WAS as a result of tempering, why, and had anything else to compare it to. A fifth was simply what you played on a piano by definition.
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#1251907 - 08/19/09 12:01 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: TimR]
jotur Online   blank
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Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5659
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Thanks, Tim - I was aware that a piano isn't tuned to theoretical ET because the real world doesn't work exactly theoretically :), both in the materials of the piano and in the way our brains interpret the input, but this was succinct and clear.

Cathy
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#1251992 - 08/19/09 02:25 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: jotur]
ProdigalPianist Offline
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Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Originally Posted By: jotur

Someone asked in another thread what most teachers would think if they got a student whose teacher had taught them that curled fingers were the only way to play piano, and the implication was that we'd mostly be dismayed. I feel exactly the same way when someone says that natural notes are the white keys on the piano. Sorry. That's just the way I feel. I'm dismayed.

So perhaps we're a little closer to being back on topic here smile

Cathy


At the risk of introducing Pierre Bourdieu to the conversation (you think people should run away from discussions of tuning...try dredging up habitus and doxa wink )...

It's sort of an artifact of the keyboard landscape (those white keys just look bigger and more important wink ) combined with the fact that, in printed music, if nothing is "done" do a note (ie-flatted or sharped) it will be a white key, that might give piano students who only know piano 'odd ideas' about theory.

I think it might lead to some unconscious assumptions that have to be realized to be overcome.
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