The piano is a beautiful instrument, and it’s popularity is no surprise. But it’s only beautiful if you focus on the fundamentals, and whether you’re just starting piano lessons in West Chester, PA or have been playing for years, knowing and practicing your scales is vital. If you’re looking for tips to play the scales evenly, then keep reading!
What Are The Benefits Of Practicing Scales On The Piano?
Scales may not be fun, but they matter more than you might think. Firstly, they improve finger dexterity in both hands. Lots of piano literature is technique-heavy in the right hand, so if you don’t practice scales (and arpeggios), your left hand may lose a step.
Secondly, they improve your overall hand position. You can’t play an even scale without great technique, so scales can almost serve as a mirror in which you can see the reflection of your hand position and finger technique.
Third, they actually improve your musicianship! If you practice your scales with crescendos, decrescendos, and different volumes (play it piano once, then forte), your ability to color a piece of music will improve.
Fourth, you will become a better sight reader, and you’ll be able to learn music faster. Scales exist throughout most pieces of classical piano music, and once you know them, you’ll learn these otherwise difficult pieces of music rather quickly.
There are certainly more benefits to playing scales, but these may be the top four.
Drills To Use When Practicing Scales
To specifically practice the evenness of your scales, try these two drills:
- Play your scales with dotted rhythms
- Play your scales with two-note slurs
- (obviously, use a metronome!)
As far as some other important scale drills go, try these;
- Play your scales in contrary motion
- Different rhythmic groupings: triplets, sixteenth notes, etc.
- Vary the touch: try staccato, legato, etc.
- Play scales in thirds and sixths
If you do a few of these drills every day with a metronome, your scales will improve.
How Hand Position Affects The Evenness Of Your Scales
If you want to play the piano like a pro, then learning proper hand position and wrist rotation matters. Maintain an even, neutral position with your wrist – if you see it reaching from side to side, you’re doing it wrong. You also don’t want the wrist dipping below the keyword or arched up in the air. Maintaining proper arm and wrist positioning will also allow you to cross under with your thumb evenly. The thumb crossover is the main pitfall when it comes to scale evenness, so practice is carefully and slowly. Place a piece of candy or a key on top of your hand while playing a scale – if it falls off, your hand position was incorrect.
How Long Should You Practice Scales Every Day?
How much you should be practicing scales depends on how long you have been playing the piano. If you’re completely new to the piano (or if you’re a young child) then around 10 minutes a day is a good place to start. Over time you should increase the amount of time practicing scales. An intermediate level player (or if you’re a teenager) may need 45 minutes to an hour of total practice, with about a third focused on technique. From there it’s a matter of necessity – if you are a conservatory student, your professor may have your practicing scales for an hour or more per day until they are musical and smooth as glass.
It’s important to remember that even the best piano players have to practice their scales in order to get to their level of skill. Playing your scales evenly is about careful practice, using the drills listed above, using a metronome, and yes, listening to your teacher.