Scales and arpeggios are part of the requirements of all examination boards, and every pianist will encounter them. The importance of knowing scales and arpeggios in every key cannot be exaggerated, but many players struggle with them because of poor technique.

How do we learn to play any scale at the drop of a hat? How do we play an even scale at a suitable tempo, with the correct fingering? How do we manage the thumb movements in an arpeggio accurately without bumping? How do we sit, how do we move across the keyboard without tension?

I have addressed all these questions and others in my new module in the Online Academy’s technique library. With detailed instructions in the videos, along with printed exercises and their demonstrations, I hope this material will assist you on your journey to making friends with scales and arpeggios.

Once we realise that all scales are made up of short (1, 2, 3) and long groups (1, 2, 3, 4) in alternation we are in a much better position to learn the fingerings. Not all scales begin at the start of a fingering group; to embed the fingerings, blocking practice is helpful.

How do we solve the problem of the thumb in scale playing? There are several ingredients – a smooth arm with no drops in the elbow, mobility in the thumb itself, and freedom in the wrist. This video excerpt offers some suggestions for practice.

Attention to whole-body choreography is especially important to feeling comfortable in arpeggio playing. This video demonstrates how we sit and how we move across the keyboard.

***

Elementary Technique – Fundamentals of Scales & Arpeggios is available for once-off purchase here or with an Online Academy subscription. Please click here to find out more about subscription options, or click here to view the module index if you are already a subscriber. Be sure to sign-up to our newsletter for further updates and subscribe to our YouTube channel for previews and video excerpts!

Further links & resources

  • Elementary Technique (Introduction and Basics) – The first module in the Online Academy’s technique library exploring the basics of piano technique, covering seating position, posture, whole-arm and legato touches. Click here to view.
  • Mastering Piano Technique – Part 2 of the Practising the Piano eBook series provides an overview of different schools and traditions through to an extensive listing of technical exercises. Click here for more information.
  • Piano Technique Lecture Series – Video lecture series from the Piano Teachers’ Course UK on piano technique by Graham Fitch with a particular emphasis on teaching beginners and beginner exercises. Click here for more information.
  • Online Academy technique resources – Click here to view an index of existing resources on piano technique on the Online Academy or on one of the following links:

These new resources will all be available through an Online Academy subscription for as little as £9.99 a month or £99.99 per year. Please click here to find out more about the Online Academy or click here to subscribe.