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#2286178 - 06/05/14 03:16 PM How to learn the scales?
Naklov Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/28/12
Posts: 7
Hello everybody,

This week I started to learn the major scales. But I'm not sure to make it in the right way. What do you suggest me: Learn them by heart (F=1 flattened note, Gflat=2 flattened notes, etc.) or learn them by repeating them and counting tones?
It's maybe a weird question, but I'm not confident enough and I don't want to waste time.
Thank you.

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#2286208 - 06/05/14 04:32 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
Derulux Offline
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Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5296
Loc: Philadelphia
Are you asking about what notes are included in a major scale, what fingering to use, or something else? Sorry, I just couldn't grasp what you were asking right away.
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#2286241 - 06/05/14 05:30 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
TheodorN Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/10
Posts: 1191
Loc: Helsingborg, Sweden
The Gb (G flat) major scale is not two flatted notes, but six, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb and Cb (= B.) Bb (B flat) does however include two flatted notes, Bb and Eb.

That aside, the circle of fifths is a great tool to help you learning scales.

http://www.circleoffifths.com/

There are a few phrases that have been used to help people remember the order (and number of flats and sharps.) For the sharps one common phrase is Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle. For the flats, the same phrase (almost) backwards. Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles. For further explanations, see the above link.

One more thing that might help, is learning the formula for every major scale. Start with the first note of the scale, and then: Tone-tone-semitone-tone-tone-tone-semitone, or TTSTTTS. T = tone and S = semitone. A semitone is the next note, black or white, and a tone is the second next note.


Edited by TheodorN (06/05/14 05:34 PM)
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#2286243 - 06/05/14 05:31 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
PAX Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/20/08
Posts: 3
Loc: Toronto
One of the first things I learned, and have actually remembered, was this rule for scales and, if I am not mistaken, it works for all of them:

Tone
Tone
Semi-Tone
Tone
Tone
Tone
Semi-Tone

So, for the C Major Scale,
starting on C,
you then go up one Full Tone to D
you then go up one Full Tone to E
you then go up one Semi-Tone to F
you then go up one Full Tone to G
you then go up one Full Tone to A
you then go up one Full Tone to B
and finally one Semi-Tone and you are back at C

It works for G, D, F, A, etc., etc., etc.

I learned something musical and it stuck - yipee for me!

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#2286244 - 06/05/14 05:32 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
RUSS SHETTLE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 297
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
One thing you want to be very acute of is the sound of a major scale no matter what the starting note is. To put the requirement in order:

1. The sound of a major scale.
2. The interval pattern of a major scale.
3. Playing the major scale.

1. Did you ever see the movie: The Sound of Music?


2. The Pattern is: W W H W W W H (W=Whole Step) (H=Half Step) With this pattern you can figure the major scale from any starting point (key). And.... likewise, if you know how to sing the major scale, which you should, you can figure it by ear with any starting key but know the pattern is important.

3. How to play? The fingering part. You can find carts that will show the fingering for every key and for both hands.

The charts are likely to show (finger numbers) 1 through 5 beginning with the thumb on both hands. The thumb being finger number 1 and you baby finger being finger number 5.

For the RH to play the C major scale (all white keys):

123 crossover thumb 1234 (12312345) if you were to continue on and play two octaves: 123 1234 123 12345 (5) being the baby finger because you have ended it there.

Not all key begin with the (1) finger. Left hand scales begin with the (5) finger.

Get a chart and you will see what I mean.

In the mean time, the first thing to know is the major scale by ear. Know it sing it and sing it from all starting points.
_________________________
Russ
Yamaha CP5
Casio PX130
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#2286246 - 06/05/14 05:34 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
earlofmar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1531
Loc: Australia
You learn both but over quite a period of time. I have a large print out of the circle of fifths in front of my keyboard to help with this. But naturally you will only learn by repetition of the scales.
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#2286254 - 06/05/14 05:54 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
RUSS SHETTLE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 297
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
You can memorize how many black keys make up a major scale for any number of keys and you can refer to the circle of fifths but the best way to know it; is as a pattern. The pattern is unchanging. You can figure any scale without charts with knowing just the interval pattern. It is utmost important from the beginning to know the scale by ear. It is important to know music by ear period. Just my opinion.

When I was in grade school, we were taught to sing (Do Re mi) before we knew anything about music. It just became a familiar song. I could sing it in any key. That single thing became an invaluable piece of knowledge with future music study.

The circle of fifths came as a result of the scales, not the other way around.


Edited by RUSS SHETTLE (06/05/14 05:58 PM)
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#2286259 - 06/05/14 06:00 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
Greener Offline

Platinum Supporter until July 22 2014


Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1180
Loc: Toronto
Originally Posted By: Naklov
...
What do you suggest me: Learn them by heart ... or learn them by repeating them and counting tones?


Yes, by counting tones. Always know how to find them in any key by your system of counting them. I don't think it is important to memorize them all. Others might.
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#2286278 - 06/05/14 06:35 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
kapelli Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/26/12
Posts: 380
Loc: Poland
Firstly, by the book dedicated to learn scales. Especialy with minors you will have problems, as they are not so easy as major ones. Tonally and with fingerings, there are different schools.

REgarding the whell of fifths, it's easy and best for you to do your own smile well, you will do this within 10 second on keyboard. STart from C and on each 5th is starting another scale with one # more. For other combinations the equation differs wink

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#2286282 - 06/05/14 06:41 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
RUSS SHETTLE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 297
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
You can call it tones and semi-tones or you can call it steps and half-steps. It doesn't matter. You should be able to place your finger on any key and walk up a major scale by simply visually seeing the pattern: WW H WWW H. I prefer to say "whole and half" for steps. You don't even need to know the name of the notes and still be able to play a major scale using this pattern.

It's important to see and know this pattern because it gives way to what the circle of 5ths is all about and other theoretical elements. The circle of 5ths became the result of the pattern. So it is my opinion to learn and know this interval pattern that makes up the major scale. To me it is so basic it's often overlooked for something more unnecessarily complicated.

It's just a pattern but one that is absolutely fundamental to our diatonic system of music. The pattern is simple to memorize and simple to see. To know and understand what you are playing is to also see what you are playing on the keyboard.
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Yamaha CP5
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#2286285 - 06/05/14 06:47 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
RUSS SHETTLE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 297
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
My point is:

Is that the circle of 5ths did not establish the major scale interval pattern by which we see black keys, sharps or flats, as a result.

But rather: The circle of 5ths became circumstantial. In other words: It just turned out that way mathematically.

The circle of 5ths is a terrific reference, don't get me wrong.
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#2286292 - 06/05/14 07:03 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: kapelli]
Greener Offline

Platinum Supporter until July 22 2014


Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1180
Loc: Toronto
Originally Posted By: kapelli
Firstly, by the book dedicated to learn scales. Especialy with minors you will have problems, as they are not so easy as major ones.

I agree with this. No question. So, why bother?
I do not know my minor scales. I have no plans to learn them now. There are too many of them. It looks confusing to me, so I've never bothered with it much. I prefer to work on other things. Lastly, I don't see how it can help me. I'll still play in any key.

However, I understand that this may not be good advice for others that may be learning under a disciplined approach that includes scales. In my experience, scales have never been important.

Just another perspective though.

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#2286308 - 06/05/14 07:50 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
RUSS SHETTLE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 297
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
What do you mean, there are too many of them? There are 3 primary if you want to call them primary. The main 3 and only one that is relative to the major and that's the one you start with and understand first.

It is call the "Natural" minor scale and guess what? It utilizes the same exact notes as the major scale. What could be easier then that? but what is then the difference: OK.... this:

First: look at the C major scale. All white keys, right. OK now look at it's relative natural minor scale. It begins on A. It's the A minor natural scale and it also uses all the same white keys. What could go wrong.

Both scales, same notes... so again what's the difference? The "shift". The natural minor begins on A while the relative major begins on C and they both, as I said, use just the same white keys.

Now: What else is the same and different at the same time? The "PATTERN"...! Accept the pattern is shifted when beginning on A versus C. That's the only difference you need to realize and hear. You can hear the difference of this scale being minor "merely due to the pattern shift".

Do you know what I mean by pattern shift?

Realize the pattern only "shifted" it's not "different". The two patterns are actually identical only they are shifted. The minor pattern simply begins 3 half steps down from the major scale. That makes it appear to be different but it's not, only shifted. Out of phase, so to speak.

Once you see this NATURAL MINOR scale the other two primary minor scales are equally simple. They are called: The Harmonic and Melodic minor scale. You can't begin to understand them if you don't see and realize how simple and relative the "Natural Minor" scale is to the Major scale. This is the first thing to see on the keyboard and when you use C as your reference Key, all the more simple because you're dealing with only the white keys on the keyboard.
_________________________
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Yamaha CP5
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#2286388 - 06/05/14 11:45 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
Brian Lucas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 961
Personally I think learning scales by pattern is more effective. It's easier to learn one pattern than to memorize 12 scales. The trick is to visualize the scale pattern on the piano.

I put together a free video on scales and how to play and master them.
Mods, if this is crossing a line, please let me know. I don't want to step on toes. But here is the way I like to think of learning scales.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ApWVWSJltQ
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BM in Performance, Berklee College of Music, 23+ year teacher and touring musician
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#2286417 - 06/06/14 02:32 AM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
Naklov Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/28/12
Posts: 7
Thank you guys, I can not name all of you, but I read you with
interest. I'll read your replies again and learn from them.
Russ, I really appreciated your replies, thank you!
Brian, I watched your video, it's great. I suscribed to your channel


Edited by Naklov (06/06/14 04:06 AM)

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#2286419 - 06/06/14 02:37 AM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11659
Loc: Canada
Brian, I liked the clarity of your video. It was well presented which makes it easy too follow.

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#2286551 - 06/06/14 11:05 AM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
RUSS SHETTLE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 297
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Excellent video Brian. Basically what I was trying to convey in words.
_________________________
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Yamaha CP5
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#2286588 - 06/06/14 12:48 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
Naklov Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/28/12
Posts: 7
I have another question. I try to learn to improvize with Jamey Aebersold's method. He suggests to learn the scale to the 9th. Do you know why he goes to the 9th? The most of people learn the scale to the 8th.


Edited by Naklov (06/06/14 12:53 PM)

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#2286625 - 06/06/14 02:27 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
RUSS SHETTLE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 297
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Originally Posted By: Naklov
I have another question. I try to learn to improvize with Jamey Aebersold's method. He suggests to learn the scale to the 9th. Do you know why he goes to the 9th? The most of people learn the scale to the 8th.


Actually, when you first learn scales you go only one octave or to the 8th as you say. Later on, you would be practicing scales of at least 2 octaves or more, I guess the idea of being able to scale the entire length of the keyboard.

Learning to scale to the 9th would be the beginning of scaling beyond one octave as I stated above. As to why? I don't know. To me, if you're going to scale to the 9th, why not learn to just scale two octaves.
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Yamaha CP5
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#2286637 - 06/06/14 02:58 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: RUSS SHETTLE]
Naklov Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/28/12
Posts: 7
Originally Posted By: RUSS SHETTLE
Originally Posted By: Naklov
I have another question. I try to learn to improvize with Jamey Aebersold's method. He suggests to learn the scale to the 9th. Do you know why he goes to the 9th? The most of people learn the scale to the 8th.


Learning to scale to the 9th would be the beginning of scaling beyond one octave as I stated above. As to why? I don't know. To me, if you're going to scale to the 9th, why not learn to just scale two octaves.



Yes, I began to learn like this, so I'll learn to scale two octaves
Thank you Russ!

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#2286651 - 06/06/14 03:22 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
RUSS SHETTLE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 297
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Originally Posted By: Naklov
Originally Posted By: RUSS SHETTLE
Originally Posted By: Naklov
I have another question. I try to learn to improvize with Jamey Aebersold's method. He suggests to learn the scale to the 9th. Do you know why he goes to the 9th? The most of people learn the scale to the 8th.


Learning to scale to the 9th would be the beginning of scaling beyond one octave as I stated above. As to why? I don't know. To me, if you're going to scale to the 9th, why not learn to just scale two octaves.



Yes, I began to learn like this, so I'll learn to scale two octaves
Thank you Russ!


Actually, I think the reason Jamey is suggesting to scale to the 9th is to set you up with that crossover to continue on. Good idea I think. Doing just a one octave scale in C for example, you end the scale with you baby finger.

Well, if you go beyond to the 9th you would be crossing over on "B" with your ring or "4" finger, then coming down on "C" with your thumb (1), hitting D th 9th with your index (2) finger.

That's a big difference just to hit that 9th properly.

It's a good suggestion....

Edited it for clarity.


Edited by RUSS SHETTLE (06/06/14 03:36 PM)
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#2286675 - 06/06/14 04:10 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11659
Loc: Canada
Not knowing Jamie Aebersold and knowing almost nothing about jazz, I'm taking a wild guess that he is thinking of chords rather than scales. I understand that a "9th" (In C major you'd have D and Db as two kinds of 9ths) has a distinct quality in * chords *. Could he be thinking of those? All I know is that he's teaching in a jazz context.

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#2286698 - 06/06/14 05:10 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: RUSS SHETTLE]
Greener Offline

Platinum Supporter until July 22 2014


Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1180
Loc: Toronto
Originally Posted By: RUSS SHETTLE

... There are 3 primary if you want to call them primary. ... and only one that is relative to the major ...


Thanks, Russ.

We discussed scales early on in one of the Sonata Analysis related threads (way back now) and how adjustment rules applied to the 3rd, 6th, 7th notes will allow you to make up the Natural, Harmonic and Melodic minor scales and the concept of relative minor. Also, how understanding this may provide an essential building block for further theory. But, what I've never understood, is why I would ever want to practice playing scales.

For someone that likes to play scales and enjoy this method of practice, and it contributes to their ability to understand things better, and also helps them play better, or just starting out and the teacher has assigned it, then terrific. I'm all for it.

It seems like there is a lot of attention given to scales. Like everyone should be practicing them or something. Is this my imagination? I'm not a scale basher. I may have been in the past, but I'm not anymore. I think they are a good thing, and I understand the importance of understanding scales. I just don't prefer to practice them, or feel the importance to do so. But, perhaps I'd feel otherwise if I had loftier ambitions.










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#2286734 - 06/06/14 06:57 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: RUSS SHETTLE]
Brian Lucas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 961
Originally Posted By: RUSS SHETTLE
Well, if you go beyond to the 9th you would be crossing over on "B" with your ring or "4" finger, then coming down on "C" with your thumb (1), hitting D th 9th with your index (2) finger.

This is where I think traditional scale fingering can be a little deceptive. I'm not sure on the reasoning to go to the 9th in the Aebersold exercise, but in the real world, if I had a run that went from C to D an octave higher, I probably wouldn't use the traditional fingers with 4 to 1, 2 at the end. I'd either play 1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2-3 or 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4-5. I did learn traditional scale fingerings growing up, and they do come in handy, but I feel it was more practice of making the switch from 3 to 1 or 4 to 1. I usually only think about the fingers I'm using when there's a problem. Personally, I feel the actual fingerings you use are fine if they work for you.
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#2286765 - 06/06/14 09:25 PM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
earlofmar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1531
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: Naklov
I have another question. I try to learn to improvize with Jamey Aebersold's method. He suggests to learn the scale to the 9th. Do you know why he goes to the 9th? The most of people learn the scale to the 8th.


Personally I would refrain from practicing to the ninth or even attempting two octaves just yet. Playing a scale to the ninth means you will never use the 5th finger (pinky) on the right hand. A minor point maybe but if scales are your main warm up or technical exercise then it is essential that all fingers get a work out.

Eighteen months since starting I have reached one of my goals in the last few weeks and learned all major and harmonic minor scales up to two octaves. Why it is a goal is beyond me I have read so much anti and pro scales posts, I just feel it is the right thing to do to advance my musical knowledge.

Within months of starting piano I attempted two octaves scales but it was too soon and I found it difficult to maintain enthusiasm and just stopped. Later I recommenced with five finger scales which were a good introduction to some of the harder scales. My overall experience though was what I had found written several times, the average beginner needs to wait up to a year before starting scales. So a little over two months ago I recommenced scales for the third time and while it has been difficult (those pesky minor scales) all the training to date seems to have prepared me and I was up for the task.
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#2286900 - 06/07/14 07:38 AM Re: How to learn the scales? [Re: Naklov]
Naklov Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/28/12
Posts: 7
Thank you Earlofmar to having shared your experience, you're right about the pinky, I think I'll learn the scales to 8th.


Edited by Naklov (06/07/14 10:38 AM)

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