Every piece of music that you have ever heard involves scales. Whether
a chromatic scale, harmonic minor scale, major scale, or diminished scale,
all music is built from the same foundation.
Scales can be mixed and matched to create different feelings within a song, as well as
deconstructed to change their properties. With all of this being said, the idea of learning scales may seem a bit
scary. They can do so much and can change in so many ways that it may be difficult to see an entry point.
In the article, we will discuss exercises to help you learn the most basic of scales, the
major scales on piano, so that you can start off learning scales with as little
confusion as possible.
Exercise One: Play Your Scales
The first step to learning your scales is to play them.
Playing your scales will help you to develop an overall feel for them. You want to be able to
recognize the properties of each scale. While you are playing the scales, think about how they sound. What are the
key traits of the scales?
You want to focus on aspects of the scale that will help you to personally remember it. If you tend
to get confused when trying to retain larger bits of information, try picking out a few key notes or words that
will allow you to identify the scale later on.
Even if these are things such as the root note, or words like strong or happy, what matters is that
they make sense to you. Everyone learns differently. You know what will help you to remember the best.
Exercise Two: Play Around
Once you know your scales, play them every which way.
Playing your scales in multiple ways allows you to become more familiar with them. Don’t just learn
the C Major scale by play from C to B, try playing back again. Then try picking out different notes and making
patterns. Explore the scale. This will allow you to understand it.
While changing notes will change the scale, changing the order won’t. This means that you can play
the scale any way you want so long as you keep the same seven notes. Try finding the octaves of each note. Then
move the entire scale up an octave. Try playing with the different intervals between each note. Experiment; it is
the key to developing a sense of familiarity.
Exercise Three: Practice
Practicing is the only way you will ever master anything.
It isn’t enough to play with a scale once and then chuck it to the back of your mind. You need to
work on your scale each and every day to increase your abilities. The more you use them, the more you will be able
to do with them. If you struggle to play fast or use phrasing, practice these techniques with your scales.
This will allow you to essentially kill two birds with a single stone; you are further developing
your technique while learning more about the possibilities that the scale has to offer. Keep an open mind at all
time, and don’t be afraid to put in some hard work. It will only make you a better musician.
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