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#2125047 - 07/29/13 11:07 PM Re: When practicing scales, do you count or say key designations [Re: Sozo]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
There are helpful tutorials and quizzes on note reading at
http://www.musictheory.net
http://www.teoria.com/
There are quiz/games where you name the note, as well as ones where you find it on an on-screen keyboard.
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#2125058 - 07/29/13 11:23 PM Re: When practicing scales, do you count or say key designations [Re: tangleweeds]
Sozo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/13/13
Posts: 37
Loc: Canada
Thank you Tangleweeds! I am on Teoria right now.. the info I am getting off of it is great! Better than the tutorials that I watched yesterday thats for sure and I don't have to keep pausing. smile Much appreciated!
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#2125727 - 07/31/13 07:33 AM Re: When practicing scales, do you count or say key designations [Re: Bluoh]
TrapperJohn Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/11/08
Posts: 3577
Loc: Chocolatetown, USA
Originally Posted By: Bluoh

...if you are good at scales then you will be able to play Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and any other composer who decides to make a piece with notes that go up or down side by side.


Not so - mechanically playing scales well doesn't necessarily mean that you can thus play the complex music of the great composers well also - this requires interpretive ability, which is a totally different and advanced skill...

However, if you can handle the music of those guys then knocking off a few scales with alacrity should be no sweat at all...

Scales - like posture rules - are inventions of teachers without imaginations...


Originally Posted By: Bluoh

Come to think of it, you don't have to brag if you're worth your salt.


It's not bragging if you can do it...
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#2126396 - 08/01/13 12:58 PM Re: When practicing scales, do you count or say key designations [Re: TrapperJohn]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: TrapperJohn

Not so - mechanically playing scales well doesn't necessarily mean that you can thus play the complex music of the great composers well also - this requires interpretive ability, which is a totally different and advanced skill...

However, if you can handle the music of those guys then knocking off a few scales with alacrity should be no sweat at all...

Scales - like posture rules - are inventions of teachers without imaginations...


If you can't master the mechanics of something, how can you expand on it?

If you can't move your legs, how can you learn to run in the sand without spraying sand up your butt?

If you can't play scales, how can you play Bach?

There are reasons we do things; there are reasons that examination boards around the world still test scales after hundreds of years.

People are not stupid. Maybe you don't care about being smart with piano and saving time, but that's not true for everyone.

Interpretive ability is not advanced. Anyone can interpret. A two year old can tell you how to sing Mary Had a Little Lamb.

Having musicality is advanced.

You are implying that Bach doesn't require musicality nor interpretive ability. That is wrong and shows that you do not have much experience with music, so I will not call you out harshly. Maybe other people will do that.

You hate scales and you think they're stupid, but they're not.

I don't practice scales anymore because I've done them for years; I can do whatever I like and still keep up because I know myself and the technique that fits me. I haven't practiced scales in over two years. (I've played them during lessons, but practicing isn't the same.)

The point is, I know how to play scales, and I get the freedom that comes with it.

Playing scales, and technique, opens up possibilities for you. You can play Liszt, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff.

Playing just Bach is not good for beginners because Bach isn't great for developing technique from the ground up. Scales and other technique do that for you.

Like I said, there are other alternatives (see my last posts) to scales, but when you know how to play scales and other standard technique, doors will open for you, because you'll be able to play all sorts of music.

Originally Posted By: TrapperJohn

Originally Posted By: Bluoh

Come to think of it, you don't have to brag if you're worth your salt.


It's not bragging if you can do it...


Please read your own words below.

Originally Posted By: TrapperJohn
Don't play scales - play Bach.

It's virtually the same thing - but then you can brag about playing Bach. Nobody brags about playing scales.


Again, you're saying Bach is mechanical and doesn't require musicality. That doesn't explain why pianists with PhDs will spend two hours dissecting three bars.

Why do we analyze Bach's work? If Bach is so basic and stupid, then why do we spend so much time on his work?

[Edit] Actually, no, apparently not everyone spends so much time on Bach's work, as you have shown. But then again, not everyone is amazing at piano.


Edited by Bluoh (08/01/13 07:03 PM)

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#2126772 - 08/02/13 03:35 AM Re: When practicing scales, do you count or say key designations [Re: Sozo]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
If I may mediate, Bluoh, I think trapperjohn is trying to get across the point that scales and other technical exercises can effectively be argued to be useless when practiced in the absence of music (see Here). Obviously you can't play a large percentage of the piano repertory if you're unable to play scales back to front and trapperjohn isn't trying to argue this (I don't think anyone would, because it's obviously a losing argument).

What I believe he's trying to argue is that while practicing scales is necessary, it's simultaneously worthless (http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,2758.msg23889.html#msg23889), or rather, it can be when they're already thoroughly learned. And while I don't mean to take sides, Bluoh, you obviously know well that mastery of scales alone don't open the doors to the aforementioned piano repertory which contains them in unbroken format (I don't presume you don't, but I'm simply clarifying your post that, "when you know how to play scales and other standard technique, doors will open for you, because you'll be able to play all sorts of music"). I've learned well from your posts (here and on your site) among others that there's far more that's necessary in regards to practicing music for performance - or just to play in general - than overcoming a few simple difficulties in the form of scalar passages (why else would you have assimilated all the neat information Here wink ). Also, there's no need to make farcical and outlandish extrapolations that trapperjohn thinks Bach is "mechanical, doesn't require musicality, or is stupid."

And trapperjohn, while - I presume - you tried to argue that scales aren't necessary as technical exercises, it's likely irrelevant as I'm not sure that Bluoh was ever implying that she thought that this was the case. Hopefully this is evident from her last post.

I think that there was simply a misunderstanding from where both sides are arguing from.

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#2126821 - 08/02/13 07:14 AM Re: When practicing scales, do you count or say key designations [Re: Bluoh]
TrapperJohn Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/11/08
Posts: 3577
Loc: Chocolatetown, USA
Originally Posted By: Bluoh

If you can't play scales, how can you play Bach?


One plays Bach (or any other composer) by playing Bach (or any other composer) - one doesn't have to master scales (or even play them at all) in order to take on the study of musical compositions in general, and become very good at it - but if one masters this real music one sure as heck could play any scale one wanted to, if one wanted to...although why one would want to is beyond me...

Originally Posted By: Bluoh

Maybe you don't care about being smart with piano and saving time, but that's not true for everyone.


How can wasting one's time playing scales instead of real music "save time" - and why is this smart?

Originally Posted By: Bluoh

Interpretive ability is not advanced. Anyone can interpret. A two year old can tell you how to sing Mary Had a Little Lamb.

Having musicality is advanced.



Musicality is just another name for "interpretive ability" - but it's like political opinions - while everyone has them, a very few are definitely far superior to the vast majority of the "run of the mill" - and one sure doesn't get into that "few" by playing scales until one's brain explodes...

Originally Posted By: Bluoh

Playing scales, and technique, opens up possibilities for you. You can play Liszt, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff.


Playing scales opens up the possibility that someday one will be able to play scales amazingly well - but who wants to hear a concert of selected scales? If one works hard enough and long enough one can play the music of the Great Composers, and without ever having attempted a friggin' scale!

Originally Posted By: Bluoh

Playing just Bach is not good for beginners because Bach isn't great for developing technique from the ground up.


Not so - of all the Great Composers he's the absolute best for that...

Edited to add: Teachers who browbeat their students into practicing scales should be flogged or tarred and feathered - and forced to listen endlessly to those students practice them!

DOWN WITH SCALES!!!


Edited by TrapperJohn (08/02/13 07:23 AM)
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#2126822 - 08/02/13 07:22 AM Re: When practicing scales, do you count or say key designations [Re: Bobpickle]
TrapperJohn Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/11/08
Posts: 3577
Loc: Chocolatetown, USA
Originally Posted By: Bobpickle


And trapperjohn, while - I presume - you tried to argue that scales aren't necessary as technical exercises, it's likely irrelevant as I'm not sure that Bluoh was ever implying that she thought that this was the case. Hopefully this is evident from her last post.



Hey Bob - actually I'm trying to argue that scales are irrelevant.

And I'm surprised to find out that "he" is a she - not that it makes any difference - just a little surprised - not sure why - but I'll bet she has an opinion on that! laugh
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#2127187 - 08/02/13 10:15 PM Re: When practicing scales, do you count or say key designations [Re: TrapperJohn]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
Hey Bobpickle, it's good to see you here. Thanks for your efforts.

I am saying that you should know how to play scales. I do not understand how a beginner can play Bach well but not know how to play scales. That's like saying you can run in the sand but you can't walk on the ground.

As you know, I never look to start arguments; I clarify things so people who read after will make the right choices for their piano journeys.

Sometimes I get worked up because it means so much to me-- I've made so many mistakes and I want to help people get through that.

I remember being in tears, because I could not play a Bach passage evenly at my lesson. My teacher made me play the same scale, going up, for five minutes straight in the lesson, before I even got a slight nod to continue the piece. This was at the performer's level.

So you should know how to play scales before you try to perfect Bach. Because scales are more basic than Bach, and Bach uses scales.

Once you know how to play scales, you're open to things like Hanon, Bach, Czerny for technique. All of these have scales but you shouldn't use these to learn scales.

You can always tell, though. When a beginner plays Bach without knowing how to play scales first, the notes are uneven and there are weird accents everywhere. You can bet that 99% of the time, the notes aren't smooth either.

Originally Posted By: Bobpickle
Also, there's no need to make farcical and outlandish extrapolations that trapperjohn thinks Bach is "mechanical, doesn't require musicality, or is stupid."


TraperJohn did, though. It's not outlandish at all.

For example:

Originally Posted By: TrapperJohn

Don't play scales - play Bach.

It's virtually the same thing
- but then you can brag about playing Bach. Nobody brags about playing scales.


He says scales = Bach.

Originally Posted By: TrapperJohn

... mechanically playing scales well doesn't necessarily mean that you can thus play the complex music of the great composers well also - this requires interpretive ability, which is a totally different and advanced skill...


Then he says scales are mechanical.

So Bach is mechanical too, since Bach is the same thing as scales (and scales are mechanical), would you agree from his statements?

Plus, he also implies that Bach's music is simple, since he says that "complex music" requires "interpretive ability" and that's "advanced".

We are talking about whether a beginner should learn how to play scales or jump into Bach.

Apparently Bach is not advanced enough to need "interpreting".

So, maybe people who pore over Bach's scores are idiots and TrapperJohn is a genius, who knows? And I'm an idiot when I paid my teacher to yell at me for Bach.

There is technique, then there is using technique to play dazzling pieces. The point of technique is to be able to play other pieces.

Like, why do basketball players bother running laps when all you need to do is shoot baskets to win a game? Because you still have to run back and forth during games, and keep up with the other team, or else you'll lose.

If you've read my writing, you probably know a bit about the way I think (although I'm revamping my blog soon). I'm just like everyone else; I've made lots of mistakes. I'm not perfect, but I know how to make the smart choices for my goals and I hope to help others too.

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#2127199 - 08/02/13 10:34 PM Re: When practicing scales, do you count or say key designations [Re: TrapperJohn]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: TrapperJohn

And I'm surprised to find out that "he" is a she - not that it makes any difference - just a little surprised - not sure why - but I'll bet she has an opinion on that! laugh


I am surprised. Is it because I talk about sports? Are girl pianists supposed to be delicate and not play sports? I only talk about the sports I play, so I'll never talk about golf.

I am genuinely curious. I was just living in the forest a few weeks ago. I wrote a blog post about it actually, I can even share it with you if you want.

I looked over my posts here and I don't see anything that gives any hints.

Anyways, I think I'm done debating.

I'm not interested in convincing you that scales are worth learning, since you don't seem to see Bach as a final product, but more like Hanon or Czerny-- things that help you build technique. (No one performs Hanon, like no one performs scales.) Which is fine. I performed Bach but I don't go out of my way to polish Bach pieces, so I see how you'd think that way.

I hope that whoever reads this next will make a smart choice for their goals, from our discussion.

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#2127228 - 08/02/13 11:43 PM Re: When practicing scales, do you count or say key designations [Re: Sozo]
Sweet06 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/13
Posts: 408
my understanding of scales is they are just the notes that make up a certain key. For example I know the key of G major means you have to hit F# instead of F unless its natural'd out. I don't understand how playing those notes up and down really does anything for me except help ingrain a sort of "geography" of the keys depending on the key you're playing in... which i guess could help with improv so you know whats safe to hit and will sound good. But can't you gain that same geography type training just thru experience with playing musical things instead of just doing a scale? I know the C major scale both hands with the right fingering. I don't know how it helps me tho. can't you also learn this using basically a textbook due to the nature of how it works?
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#2127241 - 08/02/13 11:57 PM Re: When practicing scales, do you count or say key designations [Re: Sozo]
HalfStep Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/25/11
Posts: 204
Loc: Boston, MA
This thread is interesting! Honestly, I do not practice scales but wonder if I should.

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#2127308 - 08/03/13 04:18 AM Re: When practicing scales, do you count or say key designations [Re: Bluoh]
TrapperJohn Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/11/08
Posts: 3577
Loc: Chocolatetown, USA
Originally Posted By: Bluoh

Anyways, I think I'm done debating.



Me too - I've exhausted my "ammunition" - it's a stalemate.

Just one final note to clear up matters: I don't particularly like most of Bach's music - and I do think it takes advanced interpretive ability to play it well - I only meant to imply that there are far more than enough scale-like passages in his music to satisfy even the most obsessive or compulsive scale practitioner - hence his works serve a dual purpose.

Carry on...
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Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on. Frederic Chopin

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#2127320 - 08/03/13 05:03 AM Re: When practicing scales, do you count or say key designations [Re: TrapperJohn]
dire tonic Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1357
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: TrapperJohn
I don't particularly like most of Bach's music ...


Me neither, some of his music, though not much, absolutely blows me away but most I find sterile and too geometric.

But just to show it takes all types – I am pro scales. I don’t do them now, I hate them but they were an integral part of my practice time as a kid and I think they’re vital for evenness of tone. I believe if you haven’t done them at some time, preferably earlier in your training, it shows. It’s in the glide. Arpeggios too, so many pieces have them either fragmented or extended. Both are important for evenness, for achieving it and even for perceiving it as a target.

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#2127474 - 08/03/13 01:44 PM Re: When practicing scales, do you count or say key designations [Re: dire tonic]
Sozo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/13/13
Posts: 37
Loc: Canada
Quote:
I hope that whoever reads this next will make a smart choice for their goals, from our discussion.


I have still been following along with this, I just didn't have anything more to offer as your discussion became technical to a degree that I didn't have any input for, so I have been just watching and learning what I can.
Thank you, from me at least. smile


Edited by Sozo (08/03/13 01:45 PM)
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#2127477 - 08/03/13 01:46 PM Re: When practicing scales, do you count or say key designations [Re: dire tonic]
JimF Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/09
Posts: 1737
Loc: south florida
Originally Posted By: dire tonic
.......important for evenness, for achieving it and even for perceiving it as a target.


+1 based on some of the comments in this thread, I'd say the bolded part is on the money.
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