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#2158527 - 09/27/13 10:30 AM 5 finger scales
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1229
Loc: NJ
I start my beginners on chords (broken, and hopefully blocked if possible) after the second lesson. I've never taught five finger scales, however, because IMO, they would only serve to confuse my students when learning the entire scale. What's the purpose of teaching an E major 5 finger scale, for example, if only half of the sharps are learned?

It seems that 5 finger scales are used to improve finger strength, but wouldn't exercises, such as Dozen a Day serve the same purpose without confusion? I'm interested in getting input from other teachers. Thanks.

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#2158532 - 09/27/13 10:45 AM Re: 5 finger scales [Re: chasingrainbows]
red-rose Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/20/13
Posts: 177
Loc: Cleveland, OH
I think they are useful for learning the basic difference between major and minor, without adding the additional information and notes of harmonic/natural/melodic (which an older child - 10 or 11+ is a lot more prepared to grasp than a 7 or 8 yo, IMHO.) And similar, they are useful for teaching basic chords/triads (major and minor,) so that a student can more easily understand *why* chords have the notes that they do, instead of just pure memorization. So for me, I don't really teach them for technique or as an exercise, I teach teach them for their importance in understanding music theory.

ETA: For example, especially for younger students, I think the Faber method of "whole-whole-half-whole" is much easier to learn than the Alfred method of "put two tetrachords together..." for the entire scale. ("what the heck is a tetrachord...")


Edited by red-rose (09/27/13 10:48 AM)

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#2158546 - 09/27/13 11:17 AM Re: 5 finger scales [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1229
Loc: NJ
red-rose, I totally agree with the Faber formula. It makes more sense to my students that the tetrachord explanation. I teach major and minor chords at the beginning, with ear training exercises to see if they can tell the dif, but I see your point in that 5 finger scales helps them understand why they are using certain notes for chords.

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#2158622 - 09/27/13 02:32 PM Re: 5 finger scales [Re: chasingrainbows]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
For me, it's mostly a way to get them using 5 fingers, each on a key, aiming for a relaxed hand, and not have them flying away. When I teach them an octave scale, I've not noticed any confusion. They understand they are on to the next level.
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#2158638 - 09/27/13 03:04 PM Re: 5 finger scales [Re: chasingrainbows]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5641
Loc: Orange County, CA
5-finger patterns, or pentascales, get young students out of their comfort zone. Some methods rely on certain common finger positions (Middle C, C Major, G Major, F Major), so some kids get "stuck" on these common positions. Teaching them all the major and minor pentascales help to establish hearing major and minor modes; it also builds confidence for students to play in different keys.

I also use this opportunity to teach in/out motion. Some kids are so afraid of playing on that thin white strip of key between two black keys. When you start your thumb on a black key, you have to move your entire hand inward and play between the black keys, while maintaining a good hand shape.
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#2158639 - 09/27/13 03:07 PM Re: 5 finger scales [Re: red-rose]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5641
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: red-rose
("what the heck is a tetrachord...")

Think about the C Major scale: C-D-E-F plus G-A-B-C. Both tetrachords are built on W-W-H. The two tetrachords are a whole step apart (from F to G).

I don't use it, either.
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#2158672 - 09/27/13 04:16 PM Re: 5 finger scales [Re: AZNpiano]
red-rose Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/20/13
Posts: 177
Loc: Cleveland, OH
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: red-rose
("what the heck is a tetrachord...")

Think about the C Major scale: C-D-E-F plus G-A-B-C. Both tetrachords are built on W-W-H. The two tetrachords are a whole step apart (from F to G).

I don't use it, either.

um... that was a rhetorical question, as an example of what might confuse a student. I'm fully aware of what a tetrachord is (lol,) but thanks anyhow! smile

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#2158678 - 09/27/13 04:35 PM Re: 5 finger scales [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1229
Loc: NJ
ten left thumbs & AZN, thanks, you make some good points. I guess I will add that to the technique exercises because I find that students do get locked into certain hand positions (C and G in particular).

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