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#2100291 - 06/10/13 12:32 PM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: montunoman]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11586
Loc: Canada
About the original topic

A couple of things that haven't been looked at. There is the regular teacher who has been teaching this child for two years, and the child has done music for five. This teacher is giving classical training, and believes in bringing scales in through music.

Now there is a second teacher, the jazz teacher for summer courses. In regards to two teachers at the same time, the rule of thumb is usually that if the student is advanced enough (= 5 years?), can handle the extra work (regular lessons kick out in summer?) it's ok, IF the second teacher is teaching something totally different - otherwise there can be a conflict. What the one teacher is doing has nothing to do with the other.

But here the jazz teacher expects major scales to be mastered, and the first teacher doesn't believe in it. For classical maybe it's not needed in the same way as it is needed for jazz. What is the relationship between the two teachers? Does the main teacher have any role in preparing the student for what the jazz teacher needs? Can the jazz teacher's take on music impact the what the main teacher is doing? If the main teacher doesn't know how scales work in jazz, should she, even? Should these two teachers be talking to each other?

When my child was still in school, he was in an arts magnet program, and there they had to produce a monthly etude which ws graded, and had a performance exam each semester. What happened in school affected the private teacher, who had to prepare the student for these things. There was some kind of relationship between the two programs however fuzzy.

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#2100292 - 06/10/13 12:33 PM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: keystring]
balalaika Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 84
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: keystring

You mean part of the exam syllabus, so that in order to pass this part of the exams, you need to do these kinds of studies? (Someone whose compositions are featured in such exams once straightened me out on that. smile )

I have some definite thoughts about music theory, and I have taught the three levels of RCM rudiments at one time. Here goes. Music theory (written) is a codification of the patterns that we have in music, the V7-I cadence being a simple and obvious one. It is to music what grammar and syntax are to language. We listen and speak before we learn grammar, and that way we also have a feel for the exceptions and what "feels right". There is also the idea that physical experience precedes abstract theory: that's why kids use counting blocks and then learn arithmetic - skip that and you have problems with algebra later. .... And then the theory has to be tied in with music, integrated with it. The danger is that people get (written theory), they get music, and maybe they get exercises, and each is a separate thing.

So I do want written theory. But I want it after having rich experiences at the instrument, so that the theory relates and completes it. Theory has its place, because you can sketch out things that are in front of your eyes. But it becomes a cross between geometry and algebra if you haven't experienced the music end of it first. I'd also say that when music itself (pieces) is taught, theory gradually gets inserted. If a student plays a cadence, maybe the fact gets mentioned?

I have nothing against studying harmony both on the keyboard and on paper. The harmonic analysis of the works of great composers would be also very beneficial. But this is going away from the topic Re: Why learn scales... Unless somebody believes that you can also improve your harmonic analysis skills by playing scales smile

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#2100320 - 06/10/13 01:19 PM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: montunoman]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3156
Loc: Maine
Didn't someone upthread mention that by learning to play scales, you learn what notes are in a key? (Actually, it's possible to learn scales just by fingering and not retain much imprint of which notes are in the key without concentrating on that and learning it separately, as I can report by sad experience, but let's assume that one does learn the key by learning the scale): It seems to me that understanding the notes in major and minor keys is a fundamental starting point for doing harmonic analysis.

[ETA: I say this from the student's point of view from having studied harmonic analysis. As a teacher, balalaika, perhaps you see or approach it differently.]


Edited by PianoStudent88 (06/10/13 01:23 PM)
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#2100328 - 06/10/13 01:31 PM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: PianoStudent88]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3168
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Didn't someone upthread mention that by learning to play scales, you learn what notes are in a key?


But that takes, what, a week? Is it really necessary to play scales daily for any length of time to learn what notes are in a key?

Just rent Sound of Music. Doh, a deer, a female deer.........

(a great example of both fixed and movable do!)

I'm not arguing that scale practice isn't valuable, just that for this particular purpose it seems a bit inefficient. If you can play E major scales fluently, can you automatically spell chords in E major? Can you play pieces in E major and remember all the sharps? And if not, will more scale practice help?
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#2100354 - 06/10/13 01:59 PM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: montunoman]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11586
Loc: Canada
Chords and scales interrelate. Working with either does not have to be rigid. Just because a method book, or an RCM or ABRSM course, or a given teacher, did routine things with them, does not mean that these are the only ways they can be approached. Nor that any member here, whether teacher, musician or other, is limited to such approaches.

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#2100519 - 06/10/13 05:59 PM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: PianoStudent88]
tend to rush Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/13
Posts: 51
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Didn't someone upthread mention that by learning to play scales, you learn what notes are in a key? (Actually, it's possible to learn scales just by fingering and not retain much imprint of which notes are in the key without concentrating on that and learning it separately, as I can report by sad experience, but let's assume that one does learn the key by learning the scale): It seems to me that understanding the notes in major and minor keys is a fundamental starting point for doing harmonic analysis.

Yes!

For me, learning each scale (and mode) thoroughly - so we can see them as well as we see C Major - is a greater reason for playing scales then technical proficiency, and both classical and jazz players need that level of scale knowledge - jazz players much more so.

Quote:
Unless somebody believes that you can also improve your harmonic analysis skills by playing scales


Harmonic analysis is of little use without the ability to improvise in the appropriate mode - which requires a great familiarly with it. You just need to know the scales.

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#2100523 - 06/10/13 06:06 PM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: montunoman]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
You can figure out what notes are in a key by learning important chords in a key.

You can figure out chords using the notes in a key (or scale).

The two are interrelated.

C chord, F chord, G chord, C E G F A C G B D, there is the C scale.

Chicken/egg...

In the end you need both. Each reinforces the other...
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Piano Teacher

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#2100699 - 06/11/13 12:01 AM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: PianoStudent88]
balalaika Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 84
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Didn't someone up thread mention that by learning to play scales, you learn what notes are in a key?
I am curious how are you doing this amazing thing? Are you pronouncing notes out loud while playing a scale?

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
It seems to me that understanding the notes in major and minor keys is a fundamental starting point for doing harmonic analysis.
What a wonderful insight! I totally agree with this observation. Understanding the notes in harmonic analysis may not be overlooked! thumb

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#2100702 - 06/11/13 12:13 AM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: montunoman]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3156
Loc: Maine
I learn by any method that works.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2100709 - 06/11/13 12:31 AM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: tend to rush]
balalaika Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 84
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: tend to rush
For me, learning each scale (and mode) thoroughly - so we can see them as well as we see C Major - is a greater reason for playing scales then technical proficiency...
I am left in the dark on your method of learning scales thoroughly. No matter how much I learn the scale I still cannot see it (C Major included). Could you please provide with some assistance on how you are doing your shtick?

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#2100712 - 06/11/13 12:34 AM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: balalaika]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11586
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: balalaika
keystring - Thank you for your reply.

Originally Posted By: keystring
Here we have an "exploratory and creative way of studying harmony" vis-a-vis scales for building technique.

This comment sounds confusing to me. Exploring harmony on the piano and building piano technique (like dexterity and evenness of playing runs, double notes and octaves) are quite different things. I do not understand why are you trying to join them together? If we mix different concepts up and give them a good shake then we will never be able to come up with any clear conclusion. Let's keep the ideas clear.

You did not understand what I was saying. Taking that one introductory sentence in isolation won't give it to you. Let my try again.

It starts off describing what you were comparing. On one hand you wrote about exploratory harmony. On the other hand you wrote about scales, but the teaching of scales you compared with it was specifically "scales for building technique". I was saying that teachers will teach in many different ways. Therefore not all teachers will teach "scales for building technique" so if you are countering this, you may not be countering what they are doing.

It would be easiest if you read the entire post and understand the whole idea.

I read Jonathan's posts as well as your own. The teaching he described was multifaceted. I've experienced this style. It is very possible that the way scales were featured were exploratory as well - i.e. not just a thing for building technique in the way it is sometimes done. I imagine other teachers here might also have multidimensional ways of weaving the various elements of music together.

Quote:
I do not understand why are you trying to join them together? If we mix different concepts up and give them a good shake then we will never be able to come up with any clear conclusion. Let's keep the ideas clear.

It's hard to respond to this since you didn't understand what I was saying and I had to clarify it now. Hypothetically - ok, mixing together "scales for technique building" and "exploratory harmony (chords)" don't mix. But scales and chords in an exploratory manner would mix, since they interrelate. One can explore them back and forth.

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#2100714 - 06/11/13 12:41 AM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: tend to rush]
balalaika Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 84
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: tend to rush
Harmonic analysis is of little use without the ability to improvise in the appropriate mode...

Right! Real cowboy does not need a saddle! cool

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#2100770 - 06/11/13 03:16 AM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: montunoman]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Must ask verbose keystring a simple question
(cutting out all the multi-facetted claptrap) ...
Can you freely play the piano with dexterity,
or is all this hyper-theoretical double-talk
just a way of occupying your time ...
so as to avoid having to mow the grass?

Mozart was guity of too my notes by some royal git ...
others on this Forum jabber too many words.

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#2100791 - 06/11/13 04:44 AM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: btb]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5423
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: btb
Must ask verbose keystring a simple question
(cutting out all the multi-facetted claptrap) ...
Can you freely play the piano with dexterity,

Ouch! tiki

Get some tact, please!
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2100837 - 06/11/13 09:00 AM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: montunoman]
balalaika Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 84
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
keystring -
I appreciate your response. I did read your posts entirely and I still think we have here a mix up of concepts on hands. Studying scales on piano as a term has a pretty narrow common meaning of playing a set of very specific runs and arpeggios in the certain key with emphasis on fluency and evenness. That's how most of the forum members interpreted the subject of the discussion.
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Your daughter is to be congratulated for some major progress in short order. However, so you are aware of the varying standards, in my studio, this would not be considered acceptable, for a 5th year student. Such a student would be doing 3 octaves, in triplets, hands together and separately, at a metronome setting of 72 per beat (every 3 notes in this case). This, incidentally, is not an unusually high standard.

Originally Posted By: Minniemay
And I'm pretty sure the jazz teacher would want the student to be fluent in scale playing. Have you ever watched jazz players? They use scale material all the time! The fluency with which they play is amazing. I would bet the teacher is looking for that and will adapt the scales to the jazz forms.


What you are advocating for, as I understand it, is learning the elements of music theory (a.k.a. basic rudiments) on piano in exploratory manner. This subject would include getting familiar with the structures of different modes, flipping chords, transposing little tunes into different keys of the circle of 5th, figuring out what Da Capo means, how scales and chords intertwine with each other, comparing binary and ternary and so on. However, this subject does not include playing formula pattern 4 octaves hands together with the metronome reading of 120 per minute.
I have nothing against familiarizing students with basic rudiments of music. More over I do it on a regular basis in my class. But this is not, in my view, the topic of this discussion.
That's why I suggested to clearly define what we are talking here about.


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#2100880 - 06/11/13 11:02 AM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: btb]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11586
Loc: Canada
Answering
Originally Posted By: btb
Must ask verbose keystring a simple question
(...
Can you freely play the piano with dexterity,
or is all this hyper-theoretical double-talk


What you usually stress - in fact seems your only concern - is the ability to read music, and an outdated system that makes reading music hard. So if you ask about anything, it would have to go back to the ability to read.

One must often guess what you mean. By "dexterity" do you mean something like smooth playing? If so it would have to hinge on music reading, since that is what you stress. But "dexterity" (if I've understood what you mean) also comes from technique, which is something I had none of and am getting now, since as a child I had no teacher.

If you are asking to hear my playing, I don't think that is appropriate in this forum. You have it in PM in case that's what you asked for.

But if this involves reading, can you explain how dexterity fits in with it? And what you mean by dexterity, since I'm not sure it's understood?

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#2100893 - 06/11/13 11:48 AM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: balalaika]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11586
Loc: Canada
Balalaika -
grabbing some key phrases:
Originally Posted By: balalaika
...Studying scales on piano as a term has a pretty narrow common meaning .....
What you are advocating for, as I understand it....


The crux of what I've been trying to say is this: That there will be many ways for teachers to be approaching things, but a few things that are well known. We will tend to extrapolate what we are familiar with, and then think what someone is saying is that thing.

I've seen some arguments break out with a sort of "you are wrong" and "you are wrong". You'll see teacher A argue against what teacher B has written, and it appears to be an argument against what he thinks it means, according to the context he knows. I saw that here.

I am not advocating anything at all (literally). smile I have worked with, and talked to, teachers who are creative, out-of-the-box thinkers. When I teach, especially in problem-solving tutoring, it's the same. When such a teacher "works with scales", it may be in a manner that is very different than what you can imagine. At that point, the "you are wrong" will be arguing against something that isn't there (the common approaches), and at the same time a wonderful opportunity for dialogue (explore ideas) is lost.

I think I was seeing some of that, and this is why I posted. That's the main message I tried to bring across.

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#2100949 - 06/11/13 01:46 PM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: montunoman]
balalaika Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 84
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
keystring -
Famous deep thinker and one time US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once said (among other amazing things) that:

There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.

My gut feeling tells me that in your message you are referring to the latter. But I am not quite sure. Some years ago I thought I was indecisive - now I am not sure about that neither.

However, I would like to conclude this discussion by slightly rephrasing another quote from Mr. Rumsfeld's repertoire:

Needless to say, keystring, you are correct. Whatever it was you said.

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#2100955 - 06/11/13 01:55 PM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: balalaika]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3168
Loc: Virginia, USA
Or more simply stated, the essentially physical skills gained by long hours of scale practice may not correlate at all with either the intellectual or the intuitive harmonic knowledge useful for the complete musician.
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#2100959 - 06/11/13 02:09 PM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: balalaika]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11586
Loc: Canada
.

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#2101036 - 06/11/13 04:55 PM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: montunoman]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
I have no idea what you people are talking about. I wonder if anyone else reading this thread does...
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#2101051 - 06/11/13 05:03 PM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: Gary D.]
red-rose Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/20/13
Posts: 177
Loc: Cleveland, OH
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
I have no idea what you people are talking about. I wonder if anyone else reading this thread does...

thumb

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#2101074 - 06/11/13 05:56 PM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: keystring]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Check the original message, what it says, the fact that a teacher is more or less accused of not teaching scales.

Now research the person who posted that. The child in question was taught first by her.

We don't know if the description of the teacher is fair. We don't know if the jazz teacher is fairly described. We know nothing about this situation.

Furthermore, people have given good reasons why scales may or may not be best to teach at some time or another. Chords have been mentioned.

Every time a reasonable point has been made, it has been ignored.

Why assume that there are not many points of view regarding how and when scales are best taught and leave it at that?
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#2101084 - 06/11/13 06:07 PM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: AZNpiano]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: btb
Must ask verbose keystring a simple question
(cutting out all the multi-facetted claptrap) ...
Can you freely play the piano with dexterity,

Ouch! tiki

Get some tact, please!

Agreed...
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Piano Teacher

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#2101088 - 06/11/13 06:16 PM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: Gary D.]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11586
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Gary D.

Furthermore, people have given good reasons why scales may or may not be best to teach at some time or another. Chords have been mentioned.

Every time a reasonable point has been made, it has been ignored.

Why assume that there are not many points of view regarding how and when scales are best taught and leave it at that?


This is the part that I tried to stress. I addressed the situation of the OP in a separate post, including the question of the relationship of the two teachers. Nobody responded afaik.

The other element in this thread involves the teaching of scales. There were a lot of ideas and a lot of approaches. It would be nice, where someone is doing something different, to say "That's interesting. Can you tell us more?", rather than automatically dismissing it, or assuming that you already know what it must be about. "You" is generic. smile

That is what I was trying to bring across.

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#2101810 - 06/13/13 03:08 AM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: montunoman]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
I must just tell you chaps (Gary D and AZNpiano amongst others)
who got hot under the collar with my upbraiding of keystring ...
that I have had a very kind private message from keystring ...
in which he openly admits to a very limited piano dexterity ...
although he is trying presently to work on some simple keyboard works .

Might I wish keystring every piano success in trying to catch up .

But the point of my broadside was to warn against a theoretical approach
on the subject of scales ... and talking vaguely without a hands-on
keyboard dexterity (not to mention the verbose overlay).

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#2101849 - 06/13/13 07:43 AM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: btb]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3168
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: btb
I must just tell you chaps (Gary D and AZNpiano amongst others)
who got hot under the collar with my upbraiding of keystring ...
that I have had a very kind private message from keystring ...
in which he openly admits to a very limited piano dexterity ...


Kudos for this reasonable and courteous post.

I am also in the limited dexterity camp and always will be, for a variety of reasons (though I do make some incremental progress).

That fact can have an impact on the level of understanding of an issue. We may not consider something that is perfectly obvious to the experienced. But calling attention to the limited part sends a missed message.

Some people find it easy to explain, "no, that turns out to be wrong, and here's why....." Others seem to relish the opportunity to say, "you're obviously so stupid/inexperienced/limited you don't understand that......."
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2101969 - 06/13/13 01:05 PM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: montunoman]
balalaika Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 84
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I believe this thread ran out of steam... Let's let it go... tired

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#2101983 - 06/13/13 01:28 PM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: montunoman]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3156
Loc: Maine
You may have run out of steam for this thread, but if someone else still has steam, why try to persuade them not to post?
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2102066 - 06/13/13 04:32 PM Re: Why learn scales? [Re: PianoStudent88]
balalaika Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 84
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
You may have run out of steam for this thread, but if someone else still has steam, why try to persuade them not to post?

OK... Then may be you can tell how is that you learn what notes are in a key while studying scales. I am very curious about it.

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