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#2174827 - 10/31/13 12:59 PM Typical time to master a scale & arpeggio for a specific key
Delphian2001 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/01/13
Posts: 68
Loc: Lovely So Cal
I'm a beginner who took on self-learning the piano 2 years ago. About a month ago, I purchased the book "The Complete Book of Scales, Chords, Arpeggios and Cadences" from Alfred's and determined to learn and practice all the major and minor keys. I knew from the get go that this is going take time and effort and I planned to continue to practice on a daily basis.

I started with C major and I'm at the part to practice arpeggio in root and 1st inversion form. The format for each key includes: HT octave apart parallel and contrary motions, parallel motion in 3rd interval, parallel motion in 6th interval, all chords in the key, cadences I IV V V7 in root/1st/2nd inversions, arpeggios for 2 octaves in root/1st/2nd inversions, and arpeggios in dominant 7. Based on the so far progress with C major, my estimate is it would take me about 3 months with 30-minute a day practice just on those routines. For arpeggio practice, I made a point from the beginning to practice without looking down to my hands hoping that would also train my brain and hands/fingers about proper spacing.

My question is am I a slow learner to take about 3 months (30 minute daily practice) just to master a single key? my simple math is it would take me 6 years to be comfortable with all 24 keys! Not that I mind and planning to do it no matter how long it takes. I'd love to hear other players experience.

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#2174844 - 10/31/13 01:40 PM Re: Typical time to master a scale & arpeggio for a specific key [Re: Delphian2001]
KarelG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/11
Posts: 145
Loc: Czech Republic
Are you sure all the stuff needs to be done in one run? For example with my teacher he first suggested to learn a scale hands separately and we run this way thorough major and minor harmonic scales. Then we continued with major scales with hands together running in opposite direction and this time IIRC we have also added chords and divided chords. Another run was of major scales hands together same direction 2 octaves. And the run these days is of minor melodic scales hands together, same direction + chords and divided chords. Once done, he prepares me for 3 octaves runs IIRC with combined movement of reverse/same hands together...
W.r.t. time, I'm finishing my second year and as you can see a lot still needs to be done on scales. Perhaps, scales are never ending story in piano learning process? I don't think you need to push yourself to learn one scale forever just on one time. Also I expect that the speed will not be final and you will be much faster on scales when you play for few more years...
_________________________
November 2011: piano entered into my life.

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#2174856 - 10/31/13 02:07 PM Re: Typical time to master a scale & arpeggio for a specific key [Re: Delphian2001]
Delphian2001 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/01/13
Posts: 68
Loc: Lovely So Cal
I guess one of the challenges for us self-learners is knowing what are important to emphasize and what are not so important to skip. Using the purchased book as my guideline, I'm assuming I need to practice all of them from the page 1 to the last page.

One thing I want to add is after reading Chang's book "Fundamentals of Piano Practice", I also made a point to practice scales and arpeggios TO instead of TU and this indeed takes longer. So I guess my choosing of practice with TO and not looking down to my hands makes the learning curve harder but I believe it'd be good for me in the long run (or not?).

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#2174903 - 10/31/13 03:13 PM Re: Typical time to master a scale & arpeggio for a specific key [Re: Delphian2001]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5442
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I don't think three months would be unusual at all for the first one. But it gets easier as you go.

But - surely that's not all you're playing? I'd get so bored I'd quit laugh

Disclaimer: I haven't done scales for anything except a run-thru before I play a piece in the key of the scale, along with maybe a reminder of the chords, in 50 years smile

Cathy
_________________________

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#2174915 - 10/31/13 03:46 PM Re: Typical time to master a scale & arpeggio for a specific key [Re: Delphian2001]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3155
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Delphian2001


One thing I want to add is after reading Chang's book "Fundamentals of Piano Practice", I also made a point to practice scales and arpeggios TO instead of TU and this indeed takes longer. So I guess my choosing of practice with TO and not looking down to my hands makes the learning curve harder but I believe it'd be good for me in the long run (or not?).


Bernhard has a very good description of the 4 basics involved in fast scales. His description of TO is much clearer (not sure he called it that). Bobpickle has posted it a couple of times, or if you can't find it I'll look it up.

Your progress doesn't seem bad for a beginner, but........ I'm not so sure it's a good choice of how to spend your time.

If you have 4 hours a day, 30 minutes on scales isn't bad. If you have 30 minutes a day, 5 minutes is better, you've got to do more time on music than on scales. Also, in the beginning I'd work only HS scales, trying for real fluency and working hard to listen. Without a teacher bad habits are likely with those HT and contrary scales.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2174920 - 10/31/13 03:54 PM Re: Typical time to master a scale & arpeggio for a specific key [Re: Delphian2001]
dmd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1775
Loc: Pennsylvania
Here is a video which addresses this topic.

http://fundamentalkeys.com/videos/scales.html


This same website might also be a good choice for you in helping you with your self learning method.

Look it over and decide for yourself.
_________________________
Don

My current system: Kawai ES7 + Focal CMS40 Powered Monitors, SennHeiser HD555 Phones, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface, Mackie ProFX8 Mixer, Ravenscroft275, True Keys American Grand, Ivory II American Concert D, Steinway Basic, Galaxy Vintage D, True Pianos, Pianoteq, Alicia's Keys

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#2174922 - 10/31/13 03:54 PM Re: Typical time to master a scale & arpeggio for a specific key [Re: Delphian2001]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7503
Loc: New York City
To really understand the scales and be able to play in their keys is the key (NPI).
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2174934 - 10/31/13 04:18 PM Re: Typical time to master a scale & arpeggio for a specific key [Re: Delphian2001]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3155
Loc: Virginia, USA
Here's the link I spoke of:

http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=9211.0

It's bad manners to link to the other forum so I apologize in advance. But this is useful info.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2174954 - 10/31/13 04:50 PM Re: Typical time to master a scale & arpeggio for a specific key [Re: Delphian2001]
JimF Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/09
Posts: 1673
Loc: south florida
Delphian,

There are many ways you might approach your scale work. I have the Alfred scale book too, so I know the pages you are looking at.

One thing to keep in mind is that you are trying to do more than just learn the notes to each scale...the whole point of practicing them is to learn how to play them evenly in perfect time. Your ears are going to be as important as your fingers.

As you have already figured, this does take time, so there is no reason to rush. I too would get exceedingly bored doing one scale for months on end... yuk!

Not that it is the right way for you, but this is how my teacher has me do it... and I spend about 20 minutes per day on them, sometimes a bit more or less.

I play one scale per week, alternating major with relative minor(harmonic only), and alternating the direction around the circle of 5ths.

So, if we start with C major in week 1, its A minor week 2, then F major week 3, D minor week 4, G major week 5, e minor week 6, Bb major week 7, g minor week 8, D major week 9, b minor.......

I find a week is long enough to make significant improvement in that scale, but not so long that you bore yourself to death. Since the relative harmonic minor is the same notes except for the raised seventh, you are actually spending two weeks on the same notes mostly, which helps the learning. Also it is important to see, hear, and feel the similarities (and differences) in all the scales. I fear staying with one for months on end would kind of defeat the purpose in that regard.

While you might not do so at first, eventually you want to play your scales over 4 octaves HT so that you experience the feel and sound all over the keyboard. But take your time.... HS two octaves evenly is way better than HT with a shakey beat or with plunky accents on things like thumbs.

My teacher doesn't ask me to do it, but I usually end with a couple of ii V7 I, or I IV V7 I chords just for fun. Arpeggio work is a separate assignment along with other technical exercises.

Hope this helps to give you some ideas. Most important is to just work on it a little bit every day in a diligent thoughtful way.

Good luck.

Jim
_________________________
La Fille aux cheveux de lin - Debussy
Ma Mere L'Oye - Ravel
Mozart Sonata K545

Estonia L190 #7284





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#2174983 - 10/31/13 05:51 PM Re: Typical time to master a scale & arpeggio for a specific key [Re: Delphian2001]
Delphian2001 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/01/13
Posts: 68
Loc: Lovely So Cal
Thank you all for your tips and links to extremely helpful information. This is why learning the piano is so wonderful because it is limitless.

Jim,

My problem is I don't feel like moving on to another key besides C major for the time being because I still play the scales, cadences, and especially the arpeggios with occasional mistakes. I keep telling myself to be disciplined and do not start practicing the next key (I have G major in mind next) until I can play everything in C major comfortably. Everyday when I sit down at the piano, I tell myself to spend about 15 minutes practicing scale/arp/cadences but because of my mistake filled runs, I spend more time until about 30 minutes when I decide to call it quit before practicing something else.

Is it ok to move on to practice other keys even though I have not quite mastered C major yet?

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#2174995 - 10/31/13 06:25 PM Re: Typical time to master a scale & arpeggio for a specific key [Re: Delphian2001]
PianoStudent88 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3155
Loc: Maine
If you're making mistakes, slow down. Way down.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2175030 - 10/31/13 08:37 PM Re: Typical time to master a scale & arpeggio for a specific key [Re: PianoStudent88]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
If you're making mistakes, slow down. Way down.

This.
_________________________
Oops... extremely distracted by mandolins at the moment... brb

neglected piano blog

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#2175032 - 10/31/13 08:39 PM Re: Typical time to master a scale & arpeggio for a specific key [Re: Delphian2001]
zrtf90 Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2310
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: Delphian2001
I started with C major and I'm at the part to practice arpeggio in root and 1st inversion form.

The scales book is a reference work, more like a dictionary than a novel and not designed to be worked through in order.

Unless you're using scales to improve your reading I would not start in C either but B major (RH) and D flat major, (LH) then work back to C gradually reducing sharps and flats (and thereby increasing the difficulty). The black keys make the scales easier to finger, easier to navigate and easier to learn - unless you're reading them, and you shouldn't be.

Master one key, hands separately over one or two octaves then work through all the other major keys. Then consider hands together. Only when you've got all twelve major keys hands together need you extend to three and four octaves or introduce minor scales.

I would caution against spending more than ten minutes a day on them, especially if you don't have a teacher. I would spend even less time on them if you don't have a teacher until you have a few years experience. Scales may exercise the fingers but they are not finger exercises.

Originally Posted By: Delphian2001
Everyday when I sit down at the piano, I tell myself to spend about 15 minutes practicing scale/arp/cadences but because of my mistake filled runs, I spend more time until about 30 minutes when I decide to call it quit before practicing something else.
This is something else, entirely.

Scales aren't a speed vehicle. They are a means of honing existing technique not acquiring new technique. Allowing even a single mistake means you're going too fast, not concentrating enough and increasing the time it takes to even begin to think about mastery.

Evenness in time and tone is the goal. Nothing else matters for the first few years.

When you start on scales you'll be playing them for several years so take your time. Crotchets/quarter notes at 60 bpm is fast enough for starting out and may still be a good starting point for cold fingers several years from now.

A few months of broken chords should be done before considering arpeggios and even then I'd hold off until you have a teacher.

Working on repertoire is a better method of progressing in the early years so that the technique develops from a wide variety of material and a wide range of actions. Gradually, a more natural technique will develop that can be applied to scales and arpeggios. Spending long hours on scales without sufficient guidance or experience is most likely to restrict the technique and lead to trouble later on.
_________________________
Richard

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#2175202 - 11/01/13 08:26 AM Re: Typical time to master a scale & arpeggio for a specific key [Re: tangleweeds]
JimF Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/09
Posts: 1673
Loc: south florida
Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
If you're making mistakes, slow down. Way down.

This.


+2
_________________________
La Fille aux cheveux de lin - Debussy
Ma Mere L'Oye - Ravel
Mozart Sonata K545

Estonia L190 #7284





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#2176296 - 11/03/13 08:20 AM Re: Typical time to master a scale & arpeggio for a specific key [Re: Polyphonist]
Ragdoll Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/12
Posts: 661
Loc: Illinois
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
To really understand the scales and be able to play in their keys is the key (NPI).


This would be my advice as well. Do you understand scale theory at all? If you do, then applying the steps to form scales in any key will be more beneficial that trying to memorize all of them. I doubt this can be retained in long term memory anyway. There is a pattern to scales (different patterns for different scales) learn these and then as (I think Jotur) said, run through that scale a couple times in the key of whatever new song you're trying to learn. AND...slow down. grin I mean really how soon do you imagine you'll be playing a piece written in Ab minor? And, will you remember that scale at that point?
_________________________
Ragdoll

Never get directions from someone who hasn't been there.

Just be yourself, everyone else is already taken.


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