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#1962410 - 09/22/12 06:17 AM Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit?
Tech 5 Offline
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Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 194
Loc: South Carolina
So, I've learned to play the scales on the circle of fifths up to Db Major starting with C Major. I understood from my first teacher that the important things in playing the scales are to play with even tempo & volume and to learn the appropriate fingering & hand position on the keyboard, in addition to learning the notation as you go alone. Is this basically it, or am I missing something? For instance, how the scales relate to chords and vise versa as has been discussed in another post, is something I don't think about when I play the scales.

I memorize the structure of a new scale and then I just play it over and over. I start each practice session with playing the known scales CM thru DbM, SH two octaves, then BH one octave. I'm not at all sure that this practice is of real benefit to developing skill at the piano, although I enjoy playing them.

How does one figure out how the next scale on the circle of fifths is played without being told? Is there a logical way to determine the pattern of the next scale I need to learn?

Thanks in advance,
_________________________
Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden

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#1962493 - 09/22/12 10:05 AM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Virginia, which direction are you going around the circle of fifths?  That is, which scales do you know already?  Congratulations on knowing so many scales; that is a good accomplishment.

I gather that your question is not actually about learning the order of the circle of fifths (C, G, D, ..., Eb, Bb, F) but rather what the fingering is for each scale.  In my experience there is no particular prediction for the scales.  There are patterns: for me the scales fall into three families of fingering; and each family actually is contiguous on the circle of fifths, but that feels almost like coincidence (although come to think of it, there is a deep patterned reason for it).

How did you learn the fingerings for the scales you know so far?

Here is how I think of them:

C G D A E -- white key scales, all fingered like C.  ("White key" meaning they start on a white key.)

B/Cb F#/Gb C#/Db -- contain all five black keys, fingered with 2-3 on the pairs of black notes, 3-4-5 on the triplets of black notes, and thumb on the white notes (adjust with finger 4 or 5 at the ends as appropriate, for B major).

Ab Eb Bb -- LH starts 3-2-1-4; RH has 4 on Bb.  I call these "3-4" scales in my mind: 3 for where the LH starts and 4 for the RH 4 on Bb.

F -- I think of this as in the same family as the white key scales, except the thumb crosses after 4 on Bb.  You may find that enough of a difference that you think of this differently, perhaps as a hybrid: like a white key scale in the LH, and like a 3-4 scale in the RH.

Richard (zrtf90) uses a different fingering for some of these scales.  And the fingering you use in a piece may differ, depending on where the scale starts and stops and what comes before or after it.
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#1962541 - 09/22/12 11:48 AM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
zrtf90 Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2395
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
There are many reasons why we practise scales. Very, very few of them are to do with exercising the fingers.

I use a simple principle for fingering the scales. In the 'Sharp' scales, (C,G,D,A,E,B) the 4th finger LH goes on F#, in RH the 4th finger goes on the 7th (always a black key except in C). For G,D, & A some people prefer 'C' fingering in LH (54321,321).

In the the 'Flat' scales (F,Bb,Eb,Ab,Db,Gb) in RH the 4th finger goes on Bb and the LH the 4th finger goes on the last flat/black key added in the key signature. Again, some people prefer 'C' fingering for F.

So, in summary, where 'C' fingering doesn't work use the above principles - that's the norm. I prefer that when the above doesn't work to use 'C' fingering - which is only in C major, LH where there's no F#.

When you're beginning, learning the fingering and the notes in each hand is important. Playing them evenly in time and tone is absolutely essential. What we are doing here is training the ear. When it can pick up irregularities the brain can make tiny adjustments in the fingers to make them play evenly, giving the impression that the fingers have equal strength and control.

Until you have progressed on to double third scales, five finger exercises are better finger exercises. I never do warm ups. I don't notice a difference within two hours of playing. A brisk walk and a warm sweater does a better job.

As you progress in your scale work you'll benefit from increasing the number of octaves and doing hands together. The difficulty HT is co-ordinating the hands, mostly at the turns at top and bottom when the inside hand is ergonomically disadvantaged over three or four octaves. Once you're over that hurdle (years) HS becomes more important again when the ear is better trained to listen well for unevenness.

We cannot rely on our pieces for this ear training since music relies on accents on the beats, several notes being played at once and so on. With a scale all the notes must be even and unaccented so that it's much easier to hear an irregularity. The brain can't fix what it can't hear.
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Richard

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#1962553 - 09/22/12 12:08 PM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
One thing that I like about having practiced scales a lot is that it has trained my thumb unders and hand overs so when I meet a scale passage I can whip through it much more easily than I used to be able to. Clementi Somatinas, for example smile . I prefer to learn my technique outside of and before I meet it in a piece, so separate scale practice is good for me. I know some people prefer learning their technique in the context of pieces, but I hate that: it just makes me feel impatient and inept.
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Ebaug(maj7)

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#1962558 - 09/22/12 12:11 PM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Richard, about evenness and accents: when they talk about practicing scales 2 octaves in eighths, 3 octaves in triplets, and 4 octaves in sixteenths, I thought it meant to have those beat accents in there. Are you saying, no, these are just markers for an increasing speed drill, but the beats should not be accented?
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Ebaug(maj7)

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#1962566 - 09/22/12 12:22 PM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
keystring Offline
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Posts: 11707
Loc: Canada
I'm missing the relationship to circle of fifths in this thread. (?)

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#1962571 - 09/22/12 12:30 PM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Virginia is learning the scales in order around the circle of fifths, is the connection to the circle of fifths. But I think her question is more about how to play scales, rather than anything specifically about the circle of fifths.

Virginia, please correct me if I'm wrong.
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Ebaug(maj7)

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#1962589 - 09/22/12 01:12 PM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
zrtf90 Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2395
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
You DO need to practise scales in accents. AND without. In rhythms, same rhythm in each hand, different rhythms in each hand, same touch in each hand, different touch in each hand, same and different dynamics, three vs four, etc.

Once you know the notes and fingering you need something that makes you work hard and demands concentration. If you don't have to work hard and concentrate on your scales they become mindless and you're not going to get the best out of them. You must have a target, goal or objective if scale practise is to be meaningful. Fast is one goal but studies in velocity are better for building speed.

Try to make it a goal to never play your scales the same way twice, but always trying to do them better, clearer, smoother...

For fine tuning the ear you need to avoid accents to pick up the irregularities. This is suprisingly hard.
_________________________
Richard

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#1962600 - 09/22/12 01:55 PM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Thank you for the scale ideas, Richard. What do you suggest for velocity studies, if not scales?
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Ebaug(maj7)

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#1962628 - 09/22/12 03:17 PM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: PianoStudent88]
Tech 5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 194
Loc: South Carolina
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Virginia, which direction are you going around the circle of fifths?  That is, which scales do you know already?  Congratulations on knowing so many scales; that is a good accomplishment.

I gather that your question is not actually about learning the order of the circle of fifths (C, G, D, ..., Eb, Bb, F) but rather what the fingering is for each scale.  In my experience there is no particular prediction for the scales.  There are patterns: for me the scales fall into three families of fingering; and each family actually is contiguous on the circle of fifths, but that feels almost like coincidence (although come to think of it, there is a deep patterned reason for it).

How did you learn the fingerings for the scales you know so far?

Here is how I think of them:

C G D A E -- white key scales, all fingered like C.  ("White key" meaning they start on a white key.)

B/Cb F#/Gb C#/Db -- contain all five black keys, fingered with 2-3 on the pairs of black notes, 3-4-5 on the triplets of black notes, and thumb on the white notes (adjust with finger 4 or 5 at the ends as appropriate, for B major).

Ab Eb Bb -- LH starts 3-2-1-4; RH has 4 on Bb.  I call these "3-4" scales in my mind: 3 for where the LH starts and 4 for the RH 4 on Bb.

F -- I think of this as in the same family as the white key scales, except the thumb crosses after 4 on Bb.  You may find that enough of a difference that you think of this differently, perhaps as a hybrid: like a white key scale in the LH, and like a 3-4 scale in the RH.

Richard (zrtf90) uses a different fingering for some of these scales.  And the fingering you use in a piece may differ, depending on where the scale starts and stops and what comes before or after it.


I was taught to go in clockwise order on the circle of fifths, in fact, when I was trying to teach myself a scale that I thought would help with Vandall's Prelude No. 4, my teacher (the first one) got a little upset with me getting out of order.

I learned the fingering of scales C Major thru Db Major from the teacher who instructed me as to when the crossovers took place. I follow this pattern with the known scales in two octaves for C,G,D,A,E & B:

RH: 123 cross under 1234 cross under 123 cross under 12345, then descending is 54321 cross over 321 cross over 4321 cross over 321 and....

LH: 54321 cross over 321 cross over 4321 cross over 321, the descending
123 cross under 1234 cross under 123 cross under 12345

The flat scales (G Flat) RH: start on 234, thumb on c flat, 23, thumb on f, end on finger 2 on g flat and LH: start on 432, thumb on c flat, 32, thumb on f, end with 2 on G flat.

The above fingering were typed out for me by the teacher. In addition, at the beginning, I went on Youtube and viewed some videos on scales because I forgot what had been demonstrated by my teacher at lesson time.

I just wondered if there's a way for me to figure out on my own how to play the next scale on my circle of fifths which is Ab Major. Does the name of the scale indicate that Ab is the route of the scale so I start on Ab and it has a total of 4 flats in the scale? ....but where do I go from there....is there a logical pattern?

Thanks.
_________________________
Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden

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#1962634 - 09/22/12 03:23 PM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: zrtf90]
Tech 5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 194
Loc: South Carolina
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
You DO need to practise scales in accents. AND without. In rhythms, same rhythm in each hand, different rhythms in each hand, same touch in each hand, different touch in each hand, same and different dynamics, three vs four, etc.

Once you know the notes and fingering you need something that makes you work hard and demands concentration. If you don't have to work hard and concentrate on your scales they become mindless and you're not going to get the best out of them. You must have a target, goal or objective if scale practise is to be meaningful. Fast is one goal but studies in velocity are better for building speed.

Try to make it a goal to never play your scales the same way twice, but always trying to do them better, clearer, smoother...

For fine tuning the ear you need to avoid accents to pick up the irregularities. This is suprisingly hard.



Thanks, Richard for that advice. I am concerned that I'm doing mindless work on those scales that I have learned and all that I'm accomplishing are sore, tired wrist joints. I will try the variations you suggested. I'm sure playing each hand with different rhythm will not be a mindless task for me.
_________________________
Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden

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#1962654 - 09/22/12 04:09 PM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
If your wrists are sore and tired that sounds bad. Perhaps too much tension, or doing the crossovers awkwardly.

Yes, the Ab major scale has four flats. Do you know how to figure out which they are?

If you know where 4 comes in a scale, that gives you the whole scale pattern. I don't find the next scales -- Ab, Eb, Bb -- to be in any way predictable from the previous scales. Here is a link top Cerebroom's writeup about scales, which includes a link to a handy summary sheet for fingerings major and minor scales and arpeggios. Compare his fingerings to what Richard and I have described. (I think I coincide completely with Cerebroom; Richard has some differences which I think are useful to know.)

You said that C G D A B were all the same, but I think you either misses robed the B LH, or you're doing it awkwardly. Ascending, t should be 1 on B, 32, 1 on E, 432, 1 on B again. Descending is the reverse, of course. Start and end with the simpler 4 on B though to avoid that extra cross.


Edited by PianoStudent88 (09/22/12 04:14 PM)
Edit Reason: emphasize that sore tired wrists sounds bad
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#1962656 - 09/22/12 04:12 PM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
Come to think of it, Ab Eb Bb F all have RH 4 on Bb, same as the scales Db Gb Cb. But the LH is different: 4 goes on the 4th note of the scale in Ab Eb Bb, and the F LH is like the white key scales.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#1962682 - 09/22/12 05:04 PM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3543
Originally Posted By: Tech 5
So, I've learned to play the scales on the circle of fifths up to Db Major starting with C Major.


You can't get in Db major by going UP from C major wink Going up always introduces more sharps.



Originally Posted By: Tech 5
I'm not at all sure that this practice is of real benefit to developing skill at the piano, although I enjoy playing them.


I think there's not much benefit of playing scales, unless your pieces are really crammed with scales, like some beethoven pieces. But I could be wrong :p
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#1962685 - 09/22/12 05:15 PM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
wouter79, of course you can get from C to Db going up. Going up only gives sharp keys until you circle around the other side of the circle of fifths, and then you do get flat keys (although you're right that it's still "more sharps" in the sense that each key has fewer flats than the one before it). The transition is mediated by enharmonics.
C
G
A
E
B (Cb)
F# (Gb)
C# (Db)
Ab (up a fifth from Db)
Eb
Bb
F
C
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Ebaug(maj7)

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#1962717 - 09/22/12 06:17 PM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4810
Loc: South Florida
Richard,

I always teach the circle of 5ths COUNTER clockwise, for this reason:

In music, we are continually moving from V to I, or V7 to I. Thus C major automatically likes to go to F major or F minor. This movement is more noticeable harmonically. Moving from C to G7, for instance, is backwards. Music does not normally go C7 G7 D7 A7, etc. That is counter-intuitive.

It normally goes A7 D7 G7 C7, etc.

Learning a sus4 chord in all keys immediately gives the next key, either clockwise or counter-clockwise. For example, a Csus4 shows that the G is the most likely chord to use to GET to C, but F is the most likely destination chord FROM C. And also F minor.

So I think we are lost in TWO topics:

1) Reasoning behind practicing scales in a particular order.
2) How to intuitively remember what the next key is in the circle.

I don’t see ANY purpose in practicing scales in any particular order. I would instead recommend grouping them by fingering, how the hands work together.

Richard, your fingerings reflect how I use scales in passages. For major scales I have these rules of thumb, so to speak, when the main idea is not simply play a scale from from tonic to tonic:

1) LH major scales present most of the problems. All other points I am making here deal with the LH.

2) For scales that only have two places for the thumbs, the fingerings are obvious. B, Gb and Db are a piece of cake if learned by rote.

3) All flat scales that start on a black key – which means all but F major – the 5th finger cannot start the scale, nor can the thumb end it. So Bb, Eb, and Ab are 100% standard, efficient and predictable.

4) E is logical. Starting with 5 leaves 4 on F#, solid, no reason to even think about switching fingerings.

5) A begins the problems. The standard fingering is best, in my opinion, for tonic to tonic. For all other situations, I also use 4 on F# as you do.

6) D, using 3 on F# and 2 for C#, is extremely awkward. 4 on F# is best for passage work.

7) G is slightly awkward with 2 on F#. 4 on F# is best for passage work.

8) F with 2 on Bb is slighly awkward. The best passage-work fingering is 4 on Bb.

Bottom line: the keys of A, D, G, C and F in the LH are comfortable with one fingering for “ripping” scales from tonic to tonic and make turn-arounds effortless. If you play from F to F, then back down again, one octave, over and over for greatest possible velocity, you will probably find starting with 5 and ending with 1 fastest.

In passage work that reasoning goes right out the window. And it is VITAL to think this through because most of us are right-handed.

So for passage work, if anyone is interested, there are another set of rules that are as solid as a rock. They are often quite different from conventional scale fingerings, and for this one reason I almost NEVER practice scales Hanon-style. Instead, whenever I want to drill for greatest velocity and ease, I find music that works my hands, especially the LH, in any keys that are weak for me. Not weak in the sense of knowing the notes – weak in the sense that I do not have utter ease in negotiating complicated finger-work. For that all sorts of etudes are invaluable, and Bach tends to work the LH more vigorously than almost any composer I can think of.
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Piano Teacher

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#1962777 - 09/22/12 07:45 PM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
zrtf90 Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2395
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Gary, I don't think I mentioned order. I responded on scale fingerings rather than circle of fifths (I pretty much forgot the thread title once I read the content) and as much to explain PianoStudent88's remark as to respond to Virginia.

I'm pretty sure that in my initial meanderings in Notepad, although I see they didn't make final copy, I remarked that I only do one scale a week rather than several a day, always starting with B major and progressing 'back' to C then 'on' through the flat keys to Gb. I'm not a piano teacher but if I were that's the order I'd teach too though I'm not sure that starting with B major is best for youngsters.

For me it's better to spend time doing one key several ways with differing HT spacings (third, sixth, tenth apart as well as octave) and also contrary motion, 4v3 etc, arpeggios, broken chords and chromatics from the same note rather than doing more than one key a day and with enough new stuff to require concentration and a measurable goal. I do each scale roughly one weekend every six months - not good for a beginner but it suits me. I may do double thirds and/or octaves Mon-Fri toward the end of practise.

Using scales for velocity is so mind-numbing. I don't use scales to "rip". I find working on scale-type passages in Bach and Beethoven works better for velocity as it satisfies a musical goal and has more influence on my scale speed than my scale work does on velocity in my pieces.

I learnt your reasons for your scale fingerings in our other recent dialogue and was careful to point out that your way was the norm.
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Richard

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#1962853 - 09/22/12 10:30 PM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: PianoStudent88]
Tech 5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 194
Loc: South Carolina
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
If your wrists are sore and tired that sounds bad. Perhaps too much tension, or doing the crossovers awkwardly.

Yes, the Ab major scale has four flats. Do you know how to figure out which they are?

If you know where 4 comes in a scale, that gives you the whole scale pattern. I don't find the next scales -- Ab, Eb, Bb -- to be in any way predictable from the previous scales. Here is a link top Cerebroom's writeup about scales, which includes a link to a handy summary sheet for fingerings major and minor scales and arpeggios. Compare his fingerings to what Richard and I have described. (I think I coincide completely with Cerebroom; Richard has some differences which I think are useful to know.)

You said that C G D A B were all the same, but I think you either misses robed the B LH, or you're doing it awkwardly. Ascending, t should be 1 on B, 32, 1 on E, 432, 1 on B again. Descending is the reverse, of course. Start and end with the simpler 4 on B though to avoid that extra cross.


I typed exactly what was provided to me by the teacher in an email and that's the pattern I've been following. He said that CGDAB were all the same. The directions were for two octaves, which requires a cross over/under on the middle B.

No, I do not know how to figure out which flats are in the Ab Major scale. The only way I know that here are 4 flats is the fact that this is indicated on my circle of fifths sheet.

I appreciate the link to Cerebroom. I will definitely check this out tomorrow.

Thanks for you help!
_________________________
Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden

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#1962864 - 09/22/12 10:46 PM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
So for B major, in the LH, you're starting with 5 on B, continuing up 4321, which puts 1 on F#? That's not standard. The standard fingering starts LH on 4 on B, which puts 1 on E, then crosses to 4 on F#, and continues up to 1 on B, crossing to 3 on C#, etc.

Do you know the pattern of whole steps and half steps in a major scale? If you do, then you can start at Ab and work your way up, and find out the four flats in the key of Ab that way.
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Ebaug(maj7)

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#1962875 - 09/22/12 11:11 PM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: zrtf90]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4810
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Gary, I don't think I mentioned order. I responded on scale fingerings rather than circle of fifths (I pretty much forgot the thread title once I read the content) and as much to explain PianoStudent88's remark as to respond to Virginia.

Richard,

I hope you did not think that I was negating anything you said. I was throwing out thoughts, nothing more. I do teach all the scales, and you might be surprised to find out that the way I do is close to what you do. Not the same. But close.

The first scale I teach is C. The reasons should be obvious. It's the hardest, and it is everywhere, in some form. But the second scale I teach is B. Then I teach Db and Gb. I find it VERY practical. smile

"Ripping scales" - it is a concept, not something I practice. It happens in famous pieces.

G minor melodic at the end of the Chopin G Minor Ballade, first simply in both hands, but then in 3rd or "tenths", LH starting on G, RH starting on Bb.

Bb minor melodic ascending in the Ab "Heroic" Polonaise.

Am melodic in the Grieg Piano Concerto.

And others I've mentioned.

They really are not too common!
Quote:

I'm pretty sure that in my initial meanderings in Notepad, although I see they didn't make final copy, I remarked that I only do one scale a week rather than several a day, always starting with B major and progressing 'back' to C then 'on' through the flat keys to Gb. I'm not a piano teacher but if I were that's the order I'd teach too though I'm not sure that starting with B major is best for youngsters.

It works great. They love playing all the black keys, and for B thumbs go on B and E. So if they make mistakes, it is SO easy for them to do a course correction. wink
Quote:

For me it's better to spend time doing one key several ways with differing HT spacings (third, sixth, tenth apart as well as octave) and also contrary motion, 4v3 etc, arpeggios, broken chords and chromatics from the same note rather than doing more than one key a day and with enough new stuff to require concentration and a measurable goal. I do each scale roughly one weekend every six months - not good for a beginner but it suits me. I may do double thirds and/or octaves Mon-Fri toward the end of practise.

I'm not that organized. frown

Also, I spend so much time teaching that any practice I do for *me* is hit and miss, according to free time and the energy to do the same kind of hard practice, on my own, that I TEACH all day. laugh
Quote:

Using scales for velocity is so mind-numbing. I don't use scales to "rip". I find working on scale-type passages in Bach and Beethoven works better for velocity as it satisfies a musical goal and has more influence on my scale speed than my scale work does on velocity in my pieces.

The rip is a special effect. If you have scales down in all the other music you mentioned, you just do them when you need them.

The biggest reason to practice four octave scales, day in and day out, is to satisfy playing tests, Richard. I loathe this kind of mind-killing work and so do it only at "figurative gun-point".
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#1962940 - 09/23/12 01:20 AM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4810
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Tech 5

I typed exactly what was provided to me by the teacher in an email and that's the pattern I've been following. He said that CGDAB were all the same. The directions were for two octaves, which requires a cross over/under on the middle B.

That is for the RIGHT HAND. C D E G A B are all the same fingering for that hand. B major is different for the left hand, starting on 4.
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#1962982 - 09/23/12 04:52 AM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: PianoStudent88]
Tech 5 Offline
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Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 194
Loc: South Carolina
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Virginia is learning the scales in order around the circle of fifths, is the connection to the circle of fifths. But I think her question is more about how to play scales, rather than anything specifically about the circle of fifths.

Virginia, please correct me if I'm wrong.


You are correct. I have 5 more to learn until I get inside the circle. I'm assuming the ones listed inside the circle are different scales played on different keys instead of the same scales with different names (A minor, E minor, B minor, etc)

The next one I need to learn on the outside of the circle is the Ab Major scale.
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"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
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#1962986 - 09/23/12 04:59 AM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
keystring Offline
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11707
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Virginia, when you say inside and outside a circle, are you talking about inside and outside a literal circle like a diagram?

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#1962990 - 09/23/12 05:11 AM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Gary D.]
Tech 5 Offline
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Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 194
Loc: South Carolina
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: Tech 5

I typed exactly what was provided to me by the teacher in an email and that's the pattern I've been following. He said that CGDAB were all the same. The directions were for two octaves, which requires a cross over/under on the middle B.

That is for the RIGHT HAND. C D E G A B are all the same fingering for that hand. B major is different for the left hand, starting on 4.


Of course, you are correct....sorry, my error. I do start B major with the fourth finger LH and the cross overs occur on each E and B ending on finger 1 ascending and on finger 4 descending. I didn't realize until you pointed it out that the fingering pattern emailed to me by the teacher was incorrect for left hand B major. I had already learned the (start with finger 4 pattern) with the one octave two hands procedure.

Thanks for bring that to my attention.
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Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
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#1962991 - 09/23/12 05:14 AM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: keystring]
Tech 5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 194
Loc: South Carolina
Originally Posted By: keystring
Virginia, when you say inside and outside a circle, are you talking about inside and outside a literal circle like a diagram?


Currently, I'm still on the outside of the circle, but eventually I expect to make it to the inside. Yes it is a literal circle like a diagram.
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"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
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#1962998 - 09/23/12 05:50 AM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
keystring Offline
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11707
Loc: Canada
I'm familiar with the diagram, so I know what you mean. The "circle of fifths" for me describes a pattern that I discovered before knowing there was a diagram. It is linked with the idea of "going full circle" so that you end up where you started.

Here's an exploration that I learned. Start low on the piano. Place your LH on the keys from C to G and play CG with your outer fingers. That's a "perfect 5th" (P5) interval. If you count all the piano keys you'll see that the P5 is 7 half steps. --- Now put your pinky where your thumb was, and do the same thing GD which is another P5. switch again, DA; then AE; then EB; then BF#; then F#C# which you can also see as GbDb (we'll use that); then DbAb; then AbEb; then EbBb; then BbF. Ok, now you are about to move your pinky onto F and you'll play FC. The next time you move up, you're back on C. You have gone full circle.

You've traveled: C,G,D,A,E,B,F#,C# which we'll rename Db,Ab,Eb,Bb,F,back to C. If you have done this, and compare it with your diagram, you'll see how the diagram reflects this.

The distance of 5 also comes up here: G7-C; F7-Bb, A7-D. These are all V7-I chords, where the "V" is a P5 above the I.

Another thing you will often see in music is that for a while it will go along in C major; then in the middle you see a bunch of # accidentals for F# and suddenly the music sounds like it's in G major (it has modulated), and then it goes back to C major. Music modulates into other keys, and the easiest way is "along fifths" (your circle).
----------------
Your circle diagram is a symbolic representation of existing patterns in music.

I think the inner diagram probably shows the relative minor keys.

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#1963012 - 09/23/12 06:35 AM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
EJR Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 861
Loc: Bristol, UK
<<I memorize the structure of a new scale and then I just play it over and over. I start each practice session with playing the known scales CM thru DbM, SH two octaves, then BH one octave. I'm not at all sure that this practice is of real benefit to developing skill at the piano, although I enjoy playing them.>>

Some things to try:

Use a metronome. Set it to a slow tempo when first learning the notes (1 octave) e.g. mm=50-60.

When studying a scale do Hands Separate and Hands Together training:

i) 1 octave quarter notes (one note per mm click).
ii) 2-3 octaves eighth notes legato (two notes per click).
iii) 2-3 octaves eighth notes swing
iv) 2-3 octaves triplets legato (three notes per click).
v) 2-3 octaves triplets staccato.
vi) 2-3 octaves sixteenth notes legato (four notes per click).

When doing HS, give the weaker hand extra cycles at each task.

At 3-octaves this takes me around 5 minutes per scale.

Practice the key signatures:
So Cmajor and A melodic minor and A harmonic minor.

So at 3 scales per key signature a set takes around 15 minutes.
At one set a day it takes two weeks to complete a cycle around the circle of fifths. Two sets a day (30 minutes) takes a week.

- Do fifty study cycles.
- Increase the metronome setting after each completed cycle (in small increments). If there's a lot of tension or wrong notes with the sixteenths, back off the metronome, then slowly work back up with successive study cycles.
- Scales that are a specific problem, practice daily until they aren't.


Edited by EJR (09/23/12 06:40 AM)
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#1963219 - 09/23/12 03:21 PM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: EJR]
Tech 5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 194
Loc: South Carolina
Thanks for the advice. I will try some of the stuff you suggested. Some of it I don't know how to do yet.

It just dawned on me today that I own the book, Scales Bootcamp by Phillip Johnston. I had forgotten about it being among my coffer of music books purchased recently. Its exactly what I need to figure out the Ab Major scale.

Thanks for your suggestions for ways to make playing the scales more beneficial.
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Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden

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#1963294 - 09/23/12 05:42 PM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4810
Loc: South Florida
Since this thread is supposed to be about the circle of 5ths, it would be nice to see someone respond to my point about using it counter-clockwise as being more practical for the way music moves...
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#1963299 - 09/23/12 05:52 PM Re: Circle of fifths....best way to learn & what is the benefit? [Re: Tech 5]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
For me, in order to get the downwards movement by a fifth ingrained in my mind, practicing downwards by fifths (C, F, Bb, etc.) is useful. Music also modulates up a fifth, and uses the "up a fifth" to get the outer note of a triad, given the root. So I also find it useful to also have the upward motion by fifths (C, G, D, etc.) ingrained, which I partly achieve by practicing upwards by fifths.

In addition to the bare fact of remembering the order of the circle in the downward direction (C, F , Bb, etc.), are there particular exercises that you suggest for practical exercises in the way music moves?

I occasionally practice basic cadences or chord progressions e.g. I IV I V7 I, but I don't think of those as practicing around the circle, in either direction: I think of them as practicing a set of chords within a key. And I practice scales in a variety of orders, but I don't chain them together, so I don't feel like I'm practicing V-I resolutions or key changes, in any order.
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