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Topic Options
#953556 - 10/03/05 12:53 PM Scales
stefania Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/19/05
Posts: 6
Loc: Peterborough, United Kingdom
How do you motivate pupils to practise scales?

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#953557 - 10/03/05 02:11 PM Re: Scales
pianocliff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/05
Posts: 398
Loc: Washington, DC Metro
Adults or children?

For kids it might be fun to make a spinner out of the circle of fifths and tell them to try spin the thing 'X' (where 'X' is a smal finite number) times. On each spin choose the corresponding major/minor scale and play it.

If you are an adult you can roll two dice of a different color. The total of the dice is the scale to play and the color of the highest die is tells you to play major or minor.

Example: You roll a '9' with one black die having
the value '4' and one white die having the
value '5'. Black dies are for minor and white
dies are for minor.

Since this number is greater than 6 you subtract
six from it 9 - 6 = 3. Now you look for the
scale with 3 flats (if the dice had came out
to just '3' we would have choosen the scale with
3 sharps). That scale is either Eb Major or
C minor. Since the white die was higher and
the white die represents major scales in our
example we choose Eb Major.

This is a corny little game that I made up to
make sure that I play all scales equally. It
serves it's purpose for me and is a little more
creative than just blasting through the scales.
The other upside is that one learns the major/
minor keys and the circle of fifths without
really thinking about it (after a while the
numbers, which incidently equal the number of
sharps or flats, will automatically make you
think of the corresponding scales). The nice
thing about this is if I only have time to
play say 6 scales, those scales will be choosen
at random.


#953558 - 10/04/05 04:13 PM Re: Scales
stefania Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/19/05
Posts: 6
Loc: Peterborough, United Kingdom
Thanks Cliff,

I've never heard of those ideas. I wasnt really thinking of any games as such. More like why scales need doing, i.e. they're the foundations of technique and like building a house, without solid foundations your house wont stand up.

Thanks very much

#953559 - 10/21/05 11:58 PM Re: Scales
littlePianoGirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/21/05
Posts: 37
assign music with scales in them! or make them warm up to a piece by playing the scale that the key is in, like if its in the key of G then they have to play G major scale, G minor scale, the chords, five finger patterns, arpeggios, etc.

i got this habit when playing flute and i carried it with me when i learned piano. it helps though because most of the time especially when youre just learning theyll give you easy chords and pieces with 3rds (arpeggios) and little pieces of scales in them, which i hope your student will notice :-)
I love playing scales!

#953560 - 10/22/05 03:44 AM Re: Scales
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
I find it often takes a lot of nagging. There are ways of trying to make scales more fun but in the end they are technical exercises. With young children if you tell them they need to practice their scales they will usualy do it. Others will practice them when they see the relevance in them eg. the fact that scales/arpeggios appear in the pieces they play as littlepianogirl says. If you want to improve your technique, practice your scales!
Pianist and piano teacher.

#953561 - 10/22/05 04:41 PM Re: Scales
ghelene Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/21/05
Posts: 43
Loc: Toronto
i have two ideas.

first, if your students come to your studio for lessons, maybe you could make up a scale race chart. make a column for each scale your students have to learn and have the names of your students going down in rows. for each scale, you should set requirements for having 'completed' the scale, example: contrary motion, arpeggios, a certain metronome marking, whatever. then each time a student finishes a scale, mark their completed goal with a sticker. have students compete for mastering all the scales.

also, for a little motivation, i just take a look at the great composer/pianist's quotes on the importance of scales. here's some:

'i don't like to practice, never have. but when i do get started at the piano, for the first 10 minutes i play scales, slowly. i've done this all my life. listen to the sounds you make. the sound of each tone will generate a response in you. it will give you energy.' van cliburn

'do you ask me how good a player you may become? then tell me how much you practice the scales' carl czerny

'i consider the practice of scales important not only for teh fingers, but also for the discipline of the ear with regard to the feeling of tonality (key), understanding of intervals, and the comprehenson of the total compass of the piano.' josef hofmann

'give special study to passing the thumb under the hand and passnig the hand over the thumb. this makes the practice of scales and arpeggios indispensable.' jan paderewski

'scales should never be dry. if you are not interested in them, work with them until you do become interested in them.' artur rubinstein

'i believe this matter of insisting upon a thorough technical knowledge, particularly scale playing, is a very vital one. the mere ability to play a few pieces does not constitute musical proficiency.' sergei rachmaninoff

'you must diligently practice all scales.' robert schumann

maybe you could post these up; it'll give students something to read while waiting for their lesson.

if anyone else has good advice, i'd love to hear it too, because sometimes i need a little motivation too.

#953562 - 10/22/05 08:09 PM Re: Scales
littlePianoGirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/21/05
Posts: 37
i love scales!
I love playing scales!


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