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#1251340 - 08/18/09 12:46 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: J Cortese]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3169
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: J Cortese
Originally Posted By: sotto voce
J Cortese cited the guiding principle here—the consistency of 4-3-2 and 3-2 for the black keys in the left hand and 2-3-4 and 2-3 in the right hand—as "defin[ing] the scale fingering when substantial numbers of black keys start showing up" in the key signature. Perhaps it wasn't meant to apply to G, D and A major, then?


Correct. G, D, and A (and even E) are sort of the garden variety mostly-white-key fingerings to me. It's when you have to move your hand up that the 2-3-4 and 2-3 business starts acting like the home keys on a typewriter.


Certainly a valid option. I choose to apply the guiding principle to those scales as well, resulting in a different fingering pattern than you would use. I would contend that both fingering patterns are rational and should both be called standard. (and since as been pointed out, scales are not in the end interesting music anyway!.....)

But something you might not have noticed. I play one scale a week, but I play it in all modes. (E.g., when I do a C scale, I practice it C to C, then D to D, then E to E, etc.) If you do this, you'll play the modal scales in the guiding principle fingering and not in the so-called standard fingering.
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#1251342 - 08/18/09 12:47 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Betty Patnude]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Of great importance: The keyboard is the place where music theory was established - everything about the keyboard is an example of the many different things employed in the building of the instrument and in the "rules" (which are really mathematical and scientific in form using acoustics and physics, and spatial relationships. The early theorist were keyboard teachers and composers, most notably Bach and Rameau. The theories they wrote in the Baroque period are tried and true and remain the basic foundation of all that can be explained musically. Other instruments developed later and do use/borrow these theories and information for the teaching and playing of the specific instrument. (Saxophone "speak"; Clarinet "speak", Vioin "speak", Choral "speak", etc.)


Are you absolutely sure about that? I agree that a keyboard is far better as a universal reference point- compared to the position of the fingers on a clarinet. However, it's simply a case of there being 12 pitches. The easiest way to understand sharps and flats is in relation to a piano keyboard, sure. But other than the names that are used for notes, it's simply a case of 12 different notes being used.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (08/18/09 12:48 PM)
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#1251347 - 08/18/09 12:55 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: TimR]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: TimR
Certainly a valid option. I choose to apply the guiding principle to those scales as well, resulting in a different fingering pattern than you would use. I would contend that both fingering patterns are rational and should both be called standard. (and since as been pointed out, scales are not in the end interesting music anyway!.....)

But something you might not have noticed. I play one scale a week, but I play it in all modes. (E.g., when I do a C scale, I practice it C to C, then D to D, then E to E, etc.) If you do this, you'll play the modal scales in the guiding principle fingering and not in the so-called standard fingering.


That's not about which fingers come on which notes though. It's a classic example of the benefits of playing scales from the thumb with a standard 343 pattern, unless one has a very good reason to break from this simple model. Would you do the above exercise with reference points on the keyboard- with a different fingering for every one? Or would it make good sense to run from the lowest finger to the highest finger- encompassing exactly the number of notes required without the wastage of unnecessary shifts? Such an exercise exposes the limitations of drawing positions from regions of the keyboard. It doesn't expose any limitations to the idea that the thumb is a sensible starting point for a scale.

You say that both fingering patterns are rationsl? What is rational about using various fingerings for scales that can all be accomplished with a 343 pattern- without any physical or mental difficulty? Why start a simple scale in the middle of a hand position and why finish it in the middle of a hand position? The simplest way to achieve an octave scale is in two single hand positions. You cannot do this when starting on a black note, but why go to such an unnecessary effort when you're not starting from a black notes? I don't follow the logic of these variant patterns in any sense at all. It is neither more efficient (in fact it is considerably less efficient- as it requires more shifts of position) nor is it mentally easier to start mid-position. This is why scales that start on black notes have the illusion of considerably greater difficulty- C sharp minor and F sharp minor are really very easy, when you practise starting from the thumbs, before leading back in. So why?

You seem to be criticising conventional fingerings. The point is that they are a very simple and consistent means of accomplishing a task (at least for all 343 scales). It's the EASIEST way to play scales that start on a white tonic note, not a mere tradition. That's why the pattern gets dropped for F and B. Your replacement seems to be a case of keeping your hands in the same positions for the sake of nothing but a convention, regardless of whether there are easier ways to navigate between two octaves.

I'm all for alterations, for the sake of context, but the most standard pattern is there for a basis for maximum convenience, not for tradition. When it's not convenient (say if you start on the third degree of the scale, rather than the tonic note), you can change to whatever is.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (08/18/09 02:52 PM)
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#1251351 - 08/18/09 01:05 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Betty Patnude]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17748
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

Betty: I didn't say "because" - your interpretaion is not a valid conclusion.


Um, Betty, I quoted your post exactly as you wrote it, typo included. So,yes, you DID say "because." I wrote my post because your statement was not, strictly speaking, correct, and I thought it important to be accurate for archival purposes. It is simply not true that an octave consists of black and white notes. An octave consists of the span of tones encompassed by taking a pitch and doubling it. In Western music, that interval is divided into 12 logarithmically equally spaced tones. These tones are sounds and do not possess color, black or white. They are represented on a piano keyboard as a span of black and white keys, but surely you would concede that an octave would still be an octave even if the keys were painted blue and red. smile That is what I meant by saying that "black and white" keys were arbitrary.

I'm sorry if my comments cause you to become defensive. I believe in clarity of writing and meaning, and because these threads stay in the archives indefinitely, I feel it is important to be as accurate as possible in writing.
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#1251359 - 08/18/09 01:22 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Betty Patnude]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
It's not what you remember from reading, it's what you have learned and acquired by diligent and thorough work and experience with the learning systems of music comprehension.

I would not have known a thing about it from my music lessons from age 9-15. I had a one year theory class in high school taught from a band instrument perspective. It was not until I studied pedagogy as an adult piano teacher that I learned what I now know about teaching piano. It was a many years process. The best way of accumulating knowledge is to start at the most simple place and increasingly, one step at a time, add to your basic knowledge.

I would not expect anyone to digest this chunk of information at one time, as I said, it's growth and understanding over time and effort. Curiosity helps too. Music is a highly evolved structured series of process. It can be reduced to simple levels of learning to play without having much information compared to the dearth of information that is available. I am not an academic scholar but I am an experienced teacher of 38 years with students from beginning to advanced, some studying 8 years or more with me. With this kind of commitment on their part, the technique and the theory come into learning and practice and I teach to the musician and the music combined for musical comprehension and analysis.

Dedication to the art form will get you there, or you may be happy with less of the background, and more of playing your favorites.

The problem comes when people learn at little and make misapplications about music: Stephen Hawking made a comment about knowledge in general, which also applies to music - "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."

Again, I hope the partakers of such that I've focused on becomes more clear, and to those who are having nothing of it, please continue onward without me.


Sarah P., is that you in there? grin

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#1251362 - 08/18/09 01:22 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: TimR]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11587
Loc: Canada
Quote:
On monotonic instruments, the fingering pattern learned for a given key normally works well for the repertoire in that key...

Actually that's not true, either, at least for strings. It is similar to piano in the sense that the place where a particular note is found can be played by any particular finger, depending on what position the hand has taken at that moment ("shifting"). There is a nice cross-over between piano and strings in that sense. The part that is new to me in regards to the piano is the fact that the length of the fingers vis-a-vis raised black keys and lowered white keys is a factor. That does not exist in strings. In piano, for example, I understand that you want to avoid playing a black key with the pinky or thumb, but there is no particular note that you would avoid playing with the pinky in strings.

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#1251371 - 08/18/09 01:41 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: TimR]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: J Cortese
It's when you have to move your hand up that the 2-3-4 and 2-3 business starts acting like the home keys on a typewriter.


Certainly a valid option. I choose to apply the guiding principle to those scales as well, resulting in a different fingering pattern than you would use. I would contend that both fingering patterns are rational and should both be called standard.


Oh, I'm not really arguing for one over the other. I'm just pleased that I appear to have retained what I learned when I was younger, and hope it means that I'll have a less abysmal time getting it to come back. :-)
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#1251413 - 08/18/09 03:03 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: J Cortese]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5455
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Since I don't know if Betty Patnude actually has me on her official PW ignore list or is just ignoring me in the pre-computer style of ignoring, I didn't click on a reply button from one of her posts, so this comment will look as if I'm responding to J. Cortese - hi! - but I always think of comments in threads as being kind of free-for-all anyway, so I've never paid much attention to the reply-to-an-individual line above my post. I generally quote someone or address them by name. I'll be more aware of it in the future.

However that may be, since she is, apparently, ignoring me, I suppose I will never get an answer to my question about mathematics, science, and physics, which she keeps invoking while implying that some of the rest of us are woefully ignorant. I'll admit I haven't gotten an answer when I've asked it before, either, so I didn't really have high hopes.

I suppose I also wouldn't get an answer to a couple of questions I had about this, from her post on the C major scale:

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
The "tetrachord" formula creates the major scale:
* W W H + W W W W
1 2 3 4 - 5 6 7 9 (Degrees)


I've read some of Betty's posts about tetrachords before, and as far as I remember they were correct (although I don't use them in my conceptualization of the keyboard - alas, that's one thing I've just read about in a book). But this looks odd to me. I thought for awhile she had just made a typo on the last W, but then I saw that she used a scale degree of 9 underneath, so thought there might be something I was missing. It wouldn't be the first time I've missed something :\

I'm really curious about the answers to my questions, so I'm sorry I'm probably not going to get answers. Life is full of small disappointments, I suppose.

I have found the discussion about alternate fingerings for scales interesting. There have been times when I've found myself working out fingering that wasn't "standard" and, while I'm not silly enough to believe I'm the first one to do that, I'd never seen it brought up in polite company before laugh I really like seeing the teachers here on this forum being open to discussions like this. Thanks - I learn a lot.

Cathy
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#1251414 - 08/18/09 03:05 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: J Cortese]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Monica: Um, Betty, I quoted your post exactly as you wrote it, typo included. So,yes, you DID say "because." I wrote my post because your statement was not, strictly speaking, correct, and I thought it important to be accurate for archival purposes. It is simply not true that an octave consists of black and white notes. An octave consists of the span of tones encompassed by taking a pitch and doubling it. In Western music, that interval is divided into 12 logarithmically equally spaced tones. These tones are sounds and do not possess color, black or white. They are represented on a piano keyboard as a span of black and white keys, but surely you would concede that an octave would still be an octave even if the keys were painted blue and red. That is what I meant by saying that "black and white" keys were arbitrary.

Betty: And, again, I am referring to the visualization of looking at the keyboard and making sense of it. In my teaching, the one octave C Major Scale is the basis of teaching major scale formulas through graphic visualization combined with hands on the keyboard. The process of how I teach this is not being explained here. What is said is that it is possible

In the Key of C Major C to C: there are 7 white keys and 5 black keys. The notes of the C Major Scale include only the white keys used because of the tetrachord spellings. The group of 2 black keys and 3 black keys are clearly seen as to establising fingering concepts (0 flats/0 sharps, a totally 'natural' major scale spelling). Visualize this again. From this octave range (C to C) using tetrachords, all scales have their start by selecting each one of the keys (black and white) to build a major scale upon.

Monica: "It is simply not true that an octave consists of black and white notes."

Betty: I have already previously stated the definition of an octave, put the component parts into my presentation, I am not responsible for defending the comments that you choose to make. As for being defensive, for your information, I am the one merely trying to set things straight. I don't have a learning difficulty problem. And, you say you are correcting for archival referances? What a gem that is! This ends any further communication between us Monica. I have no need to participate in dissection. When I post, I mean what I say. If I make a mistake I am thankful to set it straight. This is not that situation. People can only perceive in the way that they already perceive - perhaps there is something missing in our individual perceptions that would greatly change our perceptions if it were already known to us. Really the message of Steven Hawking that I've referred to before.

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#1251417 - 08/18/09 03:11 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: jotur]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Mathematics? Physics? Who cares. It's about music ... hopefully. Scales are necessary and should be practiced, but once the scale is known - and the chords from that scale too, I advise students to stop practicing scales and start making music.

Of course, this will not apply to the classical pianist who won't learn automatic fingering but instead must play exactly as told.

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#1251425 - 08/18/09 03:26 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: sotto voce]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13764
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: sotto voce

Kreisler, if you're still following the discussion: I noticed in your booklet that the B-flat major scale begins on 4 for the right hand and ends on 2. Was that intentional?

Steven


Nope, just a typo. laugh I'll fix it tonight.
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#1251441 - 08/18/09 03:42 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Betty Patnude]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5455
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Stephen Hawkin's quote says it all -
"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.


Again, I couldn't agree more.

Cathy
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#1251443 - 08/18/09 03:44 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Kreisler]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13764
Loc: Iowa City, IA
In the interest of full disclosure, I did not learn all the "standard" scale fingerings until my senior year in college. A systematic study of technique wasn't really something my teacher and I were interested in, so we just addressed things as it came up in repertoire.

In 20 years of teaching, however, I've noticed that it seems to be a matter of personal choice - 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.

The same goes for how one learns scales. Some prefer starting with black key scales (B, F#, C#) because of the way they fit the hand. Others prefer starting with C Major, because the keyboard topography is less complicated and it's easier to visualize. Still others work well using the tetrachord approach Betty described above.

I don't think it's particularly helpful to debate which approach(es) are superior. All have been proven effective in certain circumstances. What is helpful is to understand how each of the approaches works so that we can apply it in the studio - with our students or with ourselves.
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#1251464 - 08/18/09 04:05 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Kreisler]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I appreciate your postings, Kreisler!

The circumstances are such that there are many choices of if, when, and how to work music theory into the scheme of piano lessons.

Some people love being random and abstract, a characteristic that I have had my whole life time. It was, for me, the beginning of a good music education when I learned that the concrete and sequential part of music and of teaching music was an extremely important process to learning. And, I wanted to learn to incooperate both ways for myself and in my teaching.

What to do with any one student depends on their attention spans, abilities to learn, analyze, memorize, and the present quality of their playing along with their potential and the information that will help them reach their goals - whatever they may be. Curiosity is a virtue here. Otherwise, it can feel like feeding a toddler pablum one spoon at a time. With a students interest and capacity to absorb, the job of instilling music theory and techniques are much easier and actually fun.

We proceed accordingly.

Now that I've been able to absorb it, I am very interested in preserving the gems of thinking and observing relationships and patterns hidden to us in our music. I didn't learn them until age 27 and Kreisler is saying his last year of college and I know he had certainly become a fine performer by that time. My pursuit of music was interrupted for 12 years! I was one of the adults returning to music lessons when I restarted!

So, we all make the journey at the pace we encountered. One can go leisurely in a random or abstract way, or one can gobble up the information using concrete and sequential. If one uses both simultaneously I think he or she is operating with a fully utilized musical brain of which the content is derived from the many things we are exposed to in learning. The time and effort at the task cement it for us.

The other option is to play music and to be unaware of the underpinning of the "who, where, what, why, when and how of it. It is essentially, each of us choosing to take music to the maximum of our enjoyment and abilities....and sometimes to the maximum of our budgets! I think it can also be done on a dime if one has lots of curiosity, exposure, and sense of direction.

I do not intend to say that any one way is right for every one - piano students come with many different learning styles, aptitudes and goals - and we certainly must take their preferances into account while helping them develop their musicianship.

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#1251473 - 08/18/09 04:12 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Kreisler]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
In 20 years of teaching, however, I've noticed that it seems to be a matter of personal choice - 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.
... What is helpful is to understand how each of the approaches works so that we can apply it in the studio - with our students or with ourselves.


I believe it is the hallmark of a successful teacher to understand the learning style and objectives of a given student and design a learning program that plays to their style.

The teacher's approach to technical training should not just follow from the teacher's belief system but from what works for a given type of student.

Recognition that some students will not all be "ripe" for certain approaches at the same pace is part and parcel of designing an effective, personalized curriculum.

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#1251488 - 08/18/09 04:44 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: jotur]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Golly, Jotur, do you think I can have a dispensation for a typo "9" like Kreisler got for the error in his pdf document?

And, my answer to the "math/science" is that the principles exist in music theory. I do not add to the complexity of music by trying to discuss the actual processes of math/science involved. It is in referance to math and science not directly applied. Just as there is accountability and proof in math and science there is accountability in music theories.

Yes, I am ignoring you and a few others. Since you asked a direct question I'll give a direct answer. It might be easier for "you" (collectively) to ignore my posts. There would probably be other posters who would like to avoid the confrontations that don't have to be.

To ignore someone: where their name appears on the left of their post, click. One of the options there is to ignore. Very helpful invention that Frank thought to include. I am taking advantage of it since it works for some of us. But, I do see the content from any watched topic when it is sent to my home email. So, it isn't completely flare proof. My other option, which I have explored before, is to stop posting altogether.

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#1251498 - 08/18/09 04:58 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Kreisler]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Kreisler

In 20 years of teaching, however, I've noticed that it seems to be a matter of personal choice - 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."

May I pull rank and mention I've been teaching for 40 years? smile

I absolutely agree with you. This is another example of "All Roads (should) Lead to Rome".

I learned my scales later too, although probably about 9th grade. My teacher gave me a Hanon book, said to learn them, and I did. I do think they are a big help in building a firm foundation, but as I've said elsewhere, knowing the standard fingers for all major and minor scales (the standard forms taught) is the beginning of solving passage work, not the answer to it.
Quote:

The same goes for how one learns scales. Some prefer starting with black key scales (B, F#, C#) because of the way they fit the hand.

Which is an excellent idea.
Quote:

Others prefer starting with C Major, because the keyboard topography is less complicated and it's easier to visualize.

Also an excellent idea, depending on age, level and learning style.
Quote:

I don't think it's particularly helpful to debate which approach(es) are superior. All have been proven effective in certain circumstances. What is helpful is to understand how each of the approaches works so that we can apply it in the studio - with our students or with ourselves.

Wise words. I had given up seeing some sanity in the middle of so much heated debate. smile


Edited by Gary D. (08/18/09 05:51 PM)
Edit Reason: typos
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#1251504 - 08/18/09 05:09 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Betty Patnude]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5455
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Golly, Jotur, do you think I can have a dispensation for a typo "9" like Kreisler got for the error in his pdf document?


Absolutely you can have dispensations for typos. It's just that the last W in the line above it seemed to indicate something besides the last note of a major scale, and so I thought maybe the two together meant something I wasn't aware of.

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
And, my answer to the "math/science" is that the principles exist in music theory. I do not add to the complexity of music by trying to discuss the actual processes of math/science involved. It is in referance to math and science not directly applied. Just as there is accountability and proof in math and science there is accountability in music theories.


So you don't directly use the information you have, information which you imply that the rest of us are ignorant of. I have no problem with that. But I'd still prefer that you be accountable, here, for what you apparently know. Walk the talk, as we say. What do you know of the math, science, and physics, and how does it inform your teaching, even though you don't directly use it (which is fine)? And if it doesn't even inform your teaching, why do you bring it up here so often, and what difference would it make even if most of the rest of us were ignorant of it?

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Yes, I am ignoring you and a few others. Since you asked a direct question I'll give a direct answer.It might be easier for "you" (collectively) to ignore my posts. There would probably be other posters who would like to avoid the confrontations that don't have to be.

To ignore someone: where their name appears on the left of their post, click. One of the options there is to ignore. Very helpful invention that Frank thought to include. I am taking advantage of it since it works for some of us. But, I do see the content from any watched topic when it is sent to my home email. So, it isn't completely flare proof. My other option, which I have explored before, is to stop posting altogether.


It would be easier for you, I suppose, if I ignored your posts. But, as for others, clear writing and accuracy of information is important to me. I'll admit I also don't agree that the rest of us are ignorant because we sometimes disagree with you. And your invoking of math, science, and physics "cuts no ice" with me unless you actually post about it.

Don't know how you need to deal with the fact that you get my posts in your home e-mail. Perhaps you'll think of something. Maybe the minute you know it's mine you can quit reading. Just a thought.

Cathy
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#1251524 - 08/18/09 05:50 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: jotur]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
God, I'm getting sick of the back-biting, posturing and basically catty comments here.

Why don't you guys give it a break and contribute instead of engaging in this endless and unproductive sniping.
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#1251528 - 08/18/09 05:55 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Gary D.]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
God, I'm getting sick of the back-biting, posturing and basically catty comments here.

Why don't you guys give it a break and contribute instead of engaging in this endless and unproductive sniping.

Really? I'm enjoying the show.



Nothing like a good old-fashioned cat fight to get the juices flowing!
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#1251532 - 08/18/09 06:11 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: eweiss]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
It it just happened once in a while, it would be different, but nearly every potentially interesting thread gets knocked off topic by people chewing into each other.

Take the case of Betty's "octave that always has five black notes and seven white ones". Or whatever she said.

If you want to tear that apart, just for the pure fun of it, sure, you can.

An octave is two notes. We all know that.

But we also all know that a one octave scale, meaning starting from the tonic and ascending or descending to the "next tonic note" is the basis for the most elementary explanations in most books about scales.

Now, we can then have a new flaming discussion about whether "an octave" really means "an octave span" or "an octave range". Spilt a hair, then split the splits. Ad nauseum.

Is there anyone so stupid as not to get the point? A C scale, starting on C and ending on C, counting the notes played and all notes "skipped" will either equal 12 or 13, depending on whether or not the duplicated C is counted, or not.

But it still amounts to key counting, somehow, whether by tetrachords or some other method (whole and half steps), there is a pattern of whole and half steps that is the same for all major scales (and so on), and is anyone really having problems with this? Is anyone who does not know most of this already going to have trouble understanding how it works?

The problem is the logic behind how fingerings are chosen, when they should be stricty adhered to (the conventional fingers) and when alternate fingerings are going to work better.

The rest of what is going on is simply assinine.
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#1251533 - 08/18/09 06:12 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: eweiss]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
God, I'm getting sick of the back-biting, posturing and basically catty comments here.

Why don't you guys give it a break and contribute instead of engaging in this endless and unproductive sniping.

I agree, but it is just rude to pointedly ignore a question that is asked. It is even more rude to continue to tell people that they are being ignored. I have had more than a couple questions go unanswered.

Originally Posted By: eweiss
Really? I'm enjoying the show.

Nothing like a good old-fashioned cat fight to get the juices flowing!


But yet, it is entertaining at the same time smile
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#1251535 - 08/18/09 06:16 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Gyro]
Claude56 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/02/09
Posts: 469
Yeah, I hate scales too...

But really they are very useful when it comes to knowing music. When you look at a piece of music, you'll automatically know what scale the notes in melody are derived from.

I have a list of scales that I have been learning each in all 12 keys for the last 2 weeks. I practice these every day. They turn out to be real useful and as boring as they are, (you) should learn them too:

Superlocrian
Locrian
Lydian
Lydian Augmented
Lydian Dominant
Mixolydian b6
Harmonic Minor #5
Phrygian Major 3
Phrygian
Locrian natural 2nd )
Melodic Minor
Augmented Scale
Whole Half Diminished
Half Whole Diminished
Ukrainian Minor
Dorian
Dorian b2
Harmonic minor(I had to relearn it)

I already knew the aeolian mode, ionian and mixolydian modes in all 12 keys. I had to relearn melodic minor and harmonic minor because I forgot them. Lydian was familiar to me except that I didn't know it as well as I should have.

Does anybody know whats the difference between Harmonic Major and Harmonic Major #5? Is there any difference between Phrygian Major and Phrygian Major 3?

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#1251540 - 08/18/09 06:20 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Claude56]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Originally Posted By: noSkillz
[...]

Does anybody know whats the difference between Harmonic Major and Harmonic Major #5? [...]


A sharped 5th?
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#1251541 - 08/18/09 06:22 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Gary D.]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
God, I'm getting sick of the back-biting, posturing and basically catty comments here.

Why don't you guys give it a break and contribute instead of engaging in this endless and unproductive sniping.


Guys? Perhaps only two gals should be allowed in the teacher's lounge at the same time?

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#1251542 - 08/18/09 06:23 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Gary D.]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
I learned my scales later too, although probably about 9th grade. My teacher gave me a Hanon book, said to learn them, and I did. I do think they are a big help in building a firm foundation, but as I've said elsewhere, knowing the standard fingers for all major and minor scales (the standard forms taught) is the beginning of solving passage work, not the answer to it.


Isn't the key the word 'beginning' though? It may not be the end, but it certainly IS the beginning. I do not teach the standard fingering for F sharp minor, because I find it vastly illogical. Aside from that, I teach all of the standard fingerings, because they exist for good reason. That doesn't mean I insist that students stick to those in every musical composition. However, if they do not know them, they are generally relying on insufficiently honed instincts.

I once had a beginner student, who played me a C major scale as three groups of five fingers. Should I have left him to his own devices? Or did it make more sense to say how impressed I was that he could do it, but then demonstrate a conventional fingering? What purpose does a teacher serve- if not to convey the basics of conventional wisdom to a student? If a student can play a standard 343 pattern scale consistently and without any problems, they can do their own thinking and use whatever alternative they wish. If they have never understood the fundamental principle behind how to play a scale, they ought to learn it, before experimenting. The whole point of a teacher is to give students something beyond what can emerge from nothing but unguided experiments.

Teaching fingerings is not about closing doors to a student. It's about ensuring that they don't end up doing random stuff that might hold them back, simply because they don't know any better. At the very least they ought to be able to make up their own mind, whether they want to follow the principles. Something so important should never be witheld from a student.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (08/18/09 06:27 PM)
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#1251548 - 08/18/09 06:44 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi


Isn't the key the word 'beginning' though? It may not be the end, but it certainly IS the beginning. I do not teach the standard fingering for F sharp minor, because I find it vastly illogical. Aside from that, I teach all of the standard fingerings, because they exist for good reason. That doesn't mean I insist that students stick to those in every musical composition. However, if they do not know them, they are generally relying on insufficiently honed instincts.

This is the insane part of what happens in these discussion. You appear to be disagreeing with me, but I do exactly the same thing.
Quote:

I once had a beginner student, who played me a C major scale as three groups of five fingers. Should I have left him to his own devices? Or did it make more sense to say how impressed I was that he could do it, but then demonstrate a conventional fingering?

I would have praised the five-finger solution but would have also demonstrated the conventional fingering.
Quote:

What purpose does a teacher serve- if not to convey the basics of conventional wisdom to a student? If a student can play a standard 343 pattern scale consistently and without any problems, they can do their own thinking and use whatever alternative they wish.

I have yet to understand what a "343" pattern scale is…
Quote:

If they have never understood the fundamental principle behind how to play a scale, they ought to learn it, before experimenting. The whole point of a teacher is to give students something beyond what can emerge from nothing but unguided experiments.

Again, I agree. This is what is making me shake my head. You appear to be assuming that I disagree with your points here. I don't.
Quote:

Teaching fingerings is not about closing doors to a student. It's about ensuring that they don't end up doing random stuff that might hold them back, simply because they don't know any better. At the very least they ought to be able to make up their own mind, whether they want to follow the principles. Something so important should never be witheld from a student.

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.
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#1251550 - 08/18/09 06:49 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Gary D.]
Gerry Armstrong Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 214
Loc: Cumbernauld, Scotland
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
God, I'm getting sick of the back-biting, posturing and basically catty comments here.

Why don't you guys give it a break and contribute instead of engaging in this endless and unproductive sniping.


It is getting increasingly difficult to keep reading but there are still some gems for those of us who are here to learn.

It takes longer and they are harder to find as the noise levels from the nonsense continues to rise but they are still there if you look for them. I for one am still able to learn a lot of things I didn't know.
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#1251554 - 08/18/09 06:54 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
I have a follow-up question:

Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi

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

Which hand? Which minor scale? (Natural, harmonic, melodic?)
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#1251580 - 08/18/09 07:35 PM Re: I hate scales! [Re: Akira]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Originally Posted By: Akira
I'm wondering if some of you teachers can help me over this hurdle?

I am just not seeing any benefit to practicing scales. Because I hate them, I find myself not practicing them everyday, trying to cram one weeks worth or practice into the morning of my lesson. Of course, as expected, its a disaster during the lesson. I think if I understood the "why," it would help with the motivation and practice. My teacher's explanation of the benefits have left unconvinced and I feel like I'm wasting my time. I know everybody (or at least, most people) practices them, but I just dislike doing them. Yes, I know like I sound like seven year old boy, complaining about eating his vegetables.

Any insights you may have to offer is appreciated.


There are two types of benefit offered by scale study.

The first is technical - regular, mindful scale work which has a purpose (not just mindless 'typing') will improve your technical skills.

The other is theoretical (as in music theory) - learning and understanding scales will assist in your conceptual understanding and is an excellent basis for music theory study, as well as "experience" in playing in all the different keys - even if what you are playing is 'just' a scale.

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
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