arpeggios

My New eBook on Scales and Arpeggios

I’m delighted to announce the launch of Part 3 of my eBook series, Practising the Piano. Part 3 is a single, bumper volume on scales and arpeggios starting with a guide to the basic skills required followed by chapters for the elementary, intermediate and advanced levels. As with my other eBooks, Part 3 features numerous video demonstrations, exercises written out in manuscript and practice suggestions.  It also features a number of resources and interactive tools to keep you motivated and to make your practising more effective: Scales index This section provides an index of all major, harmonic and melodic minor scales with key signatures, fingerings and variations for practice.  There is also a keyboard diagram of each scale so the beginner will be able to see the note patterns at a glance. Scales and arpeggios charts Download printable practice charts for ABRSM Grades 1 through to 8 featuring a grid layout with the keys listed vertically and the types of scales horizontally.  Teachers can use these to assign scales for practising in between lessons, and for students to keep a record of what they have practised. Scales and arpeggios generator Don’t you wish there was a way to test yourself on the scales and arpeggios for your grade?  Part 3 includes a scale generator that randomly selects these from the ABRSM syllabus for you.  It will keep you on your toes by requesting additional ways of doing them (different touches and speeds, and so on) and gives you an optional self-scoring mechanism for charting your progress. There are so many different and creative ways to practise your scales (have you ever tried the “Russian” way?).  Practising the Piano Part 3 shows you exactly how to practise […]

By |March 18th, 2014|eBooks|5 Comments

Scale Generator

I am busy writing Part 3 of my eBook series, Practising the Piano, a volume on scales and arpeggios. After outlining the basic skills needed, I look at both scales and arpeggios from the point of view of elementary, intermediate and advanced level players. There are lots of demonstrations on the main technical points as well as exercises, suggestions for practice, and ideas to keep scale playing interesting and vibrant. This should be available for purchase very soon. One of the interactive tools we are developing for the publication is a “scales generator” which randomly selects scales to play from a prescribed list.  I am very excited to be able to introduce a demo version of it to you now in advance! At present it is still in the beta testing stage, so we would value your comments and suggestions. Any feedback you have is helpful so we can improve this. At present only ABRSM Grades 1 and 5 are available, but we will be including all the grades from 1 to 8. To test out the generator, please click here. Please leave your comments, suggestions and feedback at the bottom of this page. Thank you in advance! Further links & resources Fundamentals of Scales & Arpeggios – The next module in in the Online Academy’s technique library which follows on from the introduction and basics. Click here to view. 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. Scales and Arpeggios – Part 3 of the Practising the Piano eBook series features numerous video demonstrations, exercises, practice suggestions, resources and interactive tools […]

By |February 25th, 2014|News|9 Comments

A Beautiful Process for Scales

I was back at Steinway Hall in London recently, recording a new series of video demonstrations for Pianist Magazine. The first is on scales and arpeggios, and now that it has come out I am able add it at the end of this post. In this video, I demonstrate how the wrist, thumb and forearm accommodate the shifts in position in a scale or an arpeggio, using examples from the repertoire. So often I see players drop the arm down onto the thumb, forgetting that the arm needs to glide behind the hand smoothly. Apart from lumps and bumps, this will often cause a derailment. I wish there had been time to demonstrate a beautiful process my friend and colleague, the late and much missed Nehama Patkin used to do with scales for her intermediate students. Fortunately, I can give it to you here. This is useful hands separately as well as together, and it is actually very good to do it with the metronome. This is my take on what Nehama did (she suggested playing the scale as fast as possible as the final part, even if it comes out scrappily): Play the scale one octave ascending and descending, very slowly and firmly with a full, rich tone – let’s say we play each note as a crotchet, MM = 60 (or wherever suits you). Raise each finger slightly before grasping each key firmly, making sure to switch off effort at the bottom of each key. This will be at a level of forte. Next, without stopping, play two octaves in quavers. Keep the same pulse from the one-octave scale (the scale will now be twice as fast). Physically, instead of planting each finger into […]

By |September 27th, 2013|Practising|18 Comments

Eat Your Greens!

It seems to me that a thorough knowledge of scales and arpeggios is an absolute necessity for all serious students of the piano. Western music is built on the major/minor tonal system, and to attempt to study the instrument without scales (or basic theory) would be as nonsensical as learning language without the alphabet or bothering with basic grammar. Of course scale playing serves a technical end, but I don’t think we can consider scales as mere warm-ups when the pinky gets used only once per scale, or in some cases not at all. I will often use scales as a vehicle for teaching something else. It might be to develop touches (one hand plays using one particular touch, and the other hand with another) or to abstract an issue from the complexities of the piece. Just yesterday, a student who brought along Debussy’s evergreen Clair de lune was struggling to feel the changes from the default triplet subdivisions of the main beat to the duplet ones. We used the scale of D flat major to help him feel the changes from “tri-po-let” to “du-plet”, with both hands playing in unison, and also with the LH playing in dotted crotchets: Practising scales two against three is also a great way to develop this necessary skill (when the LH plays in 3s, remember to start two octaves apart, to avoid the inevitable collision): If scales are the ABC of music, what about aural, sight reading and theory? All examination boards include tests in each of these areas for a very good reason – to aid and abet in the process of forming an all-round musician. The more theory you know, the more you appreciate how music is […]

By |December 14th, 2012|Practising|4 Comments