Piano scales are a truly important part of every good pianist’s repertoire. There are many reasons why pianists practice them and I want to break all of these down in detail in this post. I always tell people that one of the most important parts of an instructor’s routine will be spent on scales. This is because as you get into the more technical piano pieces, you will want to know your way around every key signature.
It is my opinion that all serious pianists should spend at least 5-20 minutes a day on scales. You can practice them more or less, this is just my preferred amount of time. The purpose of this post is to break down the reasons why you should practice piano scales daily, as well as the benefits of doing so. Continue reading to below for a complete breakdown.
Learning Key Signatures
When you practice scales, you’re also becoming familiar with different key signatures. This is important as you will be learning pieces that are in different keys. You want to become very familiar with all key signatures and be able to play all of the major and minor scales.
Practicing scales instills the key signatures in your brain so that when you’re learning pieces you are already familiar with the key. If you ever want to compose your own songs, knowing the key you’re in is perfect. When I look back at all of the time I have spent playing the piano, I wish I would’ve spent more time playing scales.
How To Practice Scales
Just because you’re playing a scale, doesn’t mean you’re getting better it. When you do scales you want to be focused on only that. When I would work on learning pieces I would do so while watching T.V. I know, parents, don’t cringe. Whatever works for your child I find okay. However, not for scales.
I recommend 5-20 minutes only so that you can dedicate your time to purely that. Really focus on what you’re doing and try to get better at them every single day.
Use A Metronome
Honestly, this is an overlooked tactic for playing piano scales. However, instructors will certainly recommend you to practice your scales to a metronome. This is because it improves your rhythm and also increases your finger strength. It takes a lot of brain control to play to a metronome and stay perfectly in time, this also works your muscles awareness simultaneously.
Here are my current favorite metronomes on the market today.
I like to start at a slower tempo, and slowly increase the tempo for a certain scale. Remember, this isn’t a race, slowly try and get your speed up to where you able to tip through at a faster tempo. Try to make it so you can increase all of your scales to the same tempo. It should be your goal to slowly get that tempo faster and faster.
Practice Scales Separate & Hands Together
You will notice you can accurately play scales faster when your hands are separate. I like to practice scales one hand at a time when learning a scale. Then I slowly bring my hands one octave apart and begin playing them together.
This allows you to get the scales down with both hands. It is hard to play scales accurately and fast with both hands until you practice them for a while.
Your non-dominant hand will not be as strong as your dominant hand. Practicing the scales with your hands separate will help your hands get stronger. Everything is all about having a good practice routine. Don’t rush through these. Instead, take your time and increase your speed over time.
Hanon Piano Exercise Books
I love Hanon books for beginners to advanced pianists. Learning songs is one thing, but playing the songs accurately and correct is another thing. Doing exercises every day will allow you to master your favorite songs, not just stumble through them.
When you’re young, you feel like just because you can learn a certain piece, that’s all there is to it. Advanced pianists think it’s the other way around. They’re not satisfied until they’re doing all of the technical skills correctly in the right tempo.
Treble And Bass Clef
If you’re a beginner, learning scales will help you get comfortable with your clef’s. You will learn how to read the music for treble clef and bass clef.
When Should I Begin Playing Piano Scales
I think it’s smart to immediately start learning to play scales. Even if it’s just C Major. Take the time and slowly start to learn how to play it with your metronome at a slower tempo. You can then begin to increase the tempo until you feel like you’re moving fast enough.
This will greatly help you learn piano pieces that you want to learn as your finger dexterity will get much better.