Friday, April 12, 2013

Scales for Beginning Pianists

In the first year of lessons scale playing is minimal for most, but not all, students.  Certainly there are those who are capable of grasping the feel and location of the keys very quickly.  Others may need to wait to play scales until the hand/eye coordination is more mature.  However, few, if any, scale passages are used in first year literature.  Most teachers would probably agree that learning some scale patterns will benefit first year students.  One or two octave scales can be taught.  Overall the problem of scales as a technique is more easily learned in the second year.  This is especially true of parallel scale playing that requires control and coordination.  Having said this, again there are students who naturally acclimate to the piano keyboard.

By second or third year students need to understand how to form major and minor scale patterns with whole and half-steps.

While scale study is great for evenness of fingers and finger control, it is only one aspect of technic.  Technical training should include practice for pianissimo, fortissimo, crescendo and diminuendo, variety of tone quality, and phrasing lifts.

The two problems to solve in scale playing are turning the thumb under or crossing over the thumb, and memorizing the fingering patterns used in parallel motion.  The correct scale fingering for reach scale should be learned from the beginning.  While some teaching methods introduce only partial scales up to five fingers at first, there is no reason not to teach the full one-octave scales immediately.

Scale fingering should be memorized.  A complete book of scales at the beginner level of one or two octaves should be provided to the student for reference.  Many teachers write scale fingering in the weekly assignment book.  However, it is good practice to compel the student to learn to refer to fingering in their book.  If the student is very young, then showing their parent how to help them to use the book is important until they are old enough to work independently.

For more information about Basking Ridge piano instruction, contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studio.

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