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For those that use books of scales, chords, arpeggios, cadences, etc. How to you use the book? Do you just work a certain parts at a time or does it depend on what your currently studying/working on? Is the idea to try and internalize it the best you can?

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I don't know what your pop teacher expects of you, but I would only teach my students the scales & arpeggios in the keys which their (classical) pieces are in *. As I've often said before, there is no point learning scales & arpeggios in keys like D# minor when they aren't gong to be playing anything in that key for several years yet. The best way to learn - technically & musically - is all about getting familiar with every aspect of the pieces they play, including the key and time signatures, the fingerings being used etc.

So that when they encounter other pieces in those keys, they are already familiar with their key signatures and all that are associated with those keys, as well as reinforcing & revising concepts (like related keys which they modulate to) while learning new stuff.

*That is, up to one flat/sharp in the first year (major & harmonic minor), two in the second year etc, following the ABRSM syllabus.


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Thanks for the feedback. It sounds like a book of that type is more like a reference and not something you work though. But instead it if I was learning and playing some songs in G then I could use the book and quickly see more information about what else I can gain from the book/study in G.

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Originally Posted by Sebs
Thanks for the feedback. It sounds like a book of that type is more like a reference and not something you work through.
That's right.

Scales & arpeggios are just tools to enable students to learn and understand - technically & musically - what they are playing more easily, more economically and with more depth, not an end in themselves.

I've never owned such a book: once I learnt them, I never forgot them because I was regularly encountering them in pieces that I was also learning around the same time, so even though I've not played (say) a two-handed scale or arpeggio in G# minor for decades, I can go straight to the piano and play it. In fact, I can 'play' them in my mind (or rather, visualize myself playing them on the keyboard) right now.
And also remember one of the pieces I was learning at the time (Rach's Op.32/12).


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I grew up taking lessons with a teacher who believed in Hanon.
Took 3 years to work through the whole book.
Last half is mostly scales, arpeggios and octave-exercises.


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The idea is to use your scale book as a reference while you learn - and memorize - your scales and arpeggios. I had to do it, so you have to do it too! Even though I learned them a while ago (a little less than 2 years to learn them all), I still play them as a warm up. On odd calendar days I play scales, on even days I play arpeggios. It was such an effort to learn all that crap excellent technique that I am determined not to forget them!

There are lots of scale books - my teacher used the "Brown Scale Book", which is still for sale I see. Not much changes in the world of scales and arpeggios.

Sam


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Originally Posted by trooplewis
I grew up taking lessons with a teacher who believed in Hanon.
Took 3 years to work through the whole book.
Last half is mostly scales, arpeggios and octave-exercises.

And now your fingers are strong as can be!


Originally Posted by Sam S
The idea is to use your scale book as a reference while you learn - and memorize - your scales and arpeggios. I had to do it, so you have to do it too! Even though I learned them a while ago (a little less than 2 years to learn them all), I still play them as a warm up. On odd calendar days I play scales, on even days I play arpeggios. It was such an effort to learn all that crap excellent technique that I am determined not to forget them!

There are lots of scale books - my teacher used the "Brown Scale Book", which is still for sale I see. Not much changes in the world of scales and arpeggios.

Sam

I used to have that book but can’t find it. I do have a Alfred one now. Same concept though. I used to play them often but lately I’ve been slacking off on them. Need to add them back in my routine. I do plan to memorize/know them all in time...

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I definitely just use mine for reference.


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Originally Posted by ebonyk
I definitely just use mine for reference.

Perfect. Thanks for all the responses. I have been doing the same and like Bennevis said it depends what your currently working on. I believe bennevis or others gave that advice I’ve seen in other threads and I have been applying it. Just wasn’t sure if others were using scale books in different manners or if was way off on the general purpose of them.

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It has evolved, but books are used as reference. And now that I studying the theory exam books to take grade 5..they lead you in gradually. I concur with Bennevis, I play the scale of the pieces that I am learning - it is also part of discussing the piece with my teacher before I even start learning.

I remember Sam using lollipop sticks in a glass to randomly practice/warm up, which I have adopted too.

I decided to use abrsm’ s syllabus to work through the scales, arpeggios and chords work. It will take years to get there: it’s a journey.

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Originally Posted by Pianoperformance
I remember Sam using lollipop sticks in a glass to randomly practice/warm up, which I have adopted too.

Cool! At least I made a small contribution.

But I no longer do that, since I have them all in my head now. It takes about 5 minutes just to play through them all. Worth the time and trouble to get there!

Sam


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Excellent! I’m well on my way there too and sounds like I’m on the right path based on the feedback. I love that feeling of knowing some so well and I can’t until I have many keys down like the back of my hand. But I understand that’s a long process and journey and with time I’ll get to know them really well.

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Originally Posted by Sam S
Originally Posted by Pianoperformance
I remember Sam using lollipop sticks in a glass to randomly practice/warm up, which I have adopted too.

Cool! At least I made a small contribution.

But I no longer do that, since I have them all in my head now. It takes about 5 minutes just to play through them all. Worth the time and trouble to get there!
I wonder if the thread is about memorizing the scales, or playing them well. At least to me, memorization seems rather trivial, something you can do in a few short weeks if that's all you're looking to do. Playing scales well is something I still can't do and it takes a lifetime of work. But when it comes to memorization, I have a few tips. I'll start with the major scales, and the minor ones should follow similarly.

Always work up the circle of fifths. Go through all the scales at once. I would start only with the right hand while memorizing them initially so you get the scales in your head first.

----

Remember that F# is halfway across the circle of fifths starting from C. Also, Gb is the same as F# -- one semitone below G is the same as one semitone above F (check it out on your keyboard).

Now, memorize the scales according to the circle of fifths. As you go up, the number of sharps will increase by one each time. How do you figure out the circle of fifths in the first place? Well, it's quite easy: start with C, and keep adding 4 (start back at A once you cross G). C+4=G, G+4=D, etc. This works until you reach B. Then, you go to F#. Similarly, start from C, and work backwards. C-4=F. Here, you then go to Bb. Then, Bb-4=Eb. And so on, until you reach Gb.

Now, you start with C, which is trivial. G has one sharp, which means that 6 of the seven notes are white notes, and you just need to remember the position of the one sharp, the F#. D has two sharps and the previous one is retained. So you know you have five white notes, and the F#. All you have to remember is that additionally you have a C#. For the A, you add the D#. And so on until you reach F#.

Now start from C, and go backwards along the circle of fifths. First you have the F, with one flat. Then, you have the Bb scale which has one additional flat, which you need to remember. And so on.
---

Once you have learned all the scales, it's incredibly useful to be able to visualize each one in your head which is a skill you should try to develop.

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Remembering the key signatures is a trivial problem compared to memorizing the fingering and training the hands to play them.

Sam


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Originally Posted by Sam S
Remembering the key signatures is a trivial problem compared to memorizing the fingering and training the hands to play them.
Yes, I had the same thought. When I was learning the scales it was more about figuring out the blocks of 3 and 4 notes in each hand and which fingers go on black keys.

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Oh, I forgot to add something about the fingering. I think it's better to try to learn several similar scales at once rather than individual scales.

For the right hand (the principles should be similar for the left hand):
Observe which ones have fingering 123-12345: C, G, D, A, E, B, basically all the key signatures starting on a white key except for F.

For the black keys, remember that a set of two black keys in a row will be played 23 or 34, and three in a row will be played 234. If you know the scale shapes, you will be able to figure the rest of the typical fingerings out.

F major and Bb major are the odd ones out in terms of the fingerings. Just remember which fingers go on the black keys and you'll be good to go.


Of course, this doesn't speak for the technique required to play them. There are tomes written on the topic wink

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@ranjit I was curious as to how others use their book of scales, chords, cadences, etc for those that have and use those types of books.


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