Tag Archives: piano scales

Your Teacher Can’t Help You Progress If You Do These Three Things – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

There is an automatic assumption if you start piano lessons, you want to learn how to play the piano nicely, so you can produce (and control) a beautiful sound and progress to become a better pianist. There are three common issues that can stop this happening:

You practise on a non-weighted keyboard at home

On the surface, a keyboard without weighted action keys will allow you to learn what keys are what notes, but nothing more. There is no capacity for dynamics, articulation or any level of nuance. That is, every single note sounds exactly the same. Every time. No soft or loud or crescendo. No staccato, no slurs. Deeper down, these keyboards create very bad technical habits, tension that can cause injuries, and will hinder the student developing good listening and music appreciation skills and becoming a well-rounded musician.

 

You ignore technical work

Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSWAthletes warm up before a game. They train with lots of repetitious drills so their body learns those actions and they can incorporate them into their game. Dancers work through lots of exercises to develop their physical skill. They also warm up before they dance. This is accepted as normal. Playing the piano incorporates a large portion of physical skill. It requires a strong technical foundation. Trying to play pieces of increasing difficulty without gradually building the physical skills required is like running a marathon because you understand the mechanics of running but haven’t trained. The result will be frustration.

 

You don’t practise between lessons

Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSWThis is a no-brainer and has been covered in many previous blog posts. Lessons are generally as short as 30 minutes, and are when new concepts and material are taught, not where practise happens. Those concepts then need to be consolidated with practise at home, or at the next lesson you will still be in exactly the same place you were the week before. Practise is about feeling accomplished; setting a goal (even a small one) and achieving it.

Your teacher will plant all the seeds, but you need to water the garden. Believe me, when that garden begins to flower, it will be incredibly rewarding!

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.

Why We Play Scales – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

Today I am revisiting an old post (with some additions), because it has become even more relevant lately.

Scales. Love them or hate them, scales are a big part of practise life for any musician (instrumentalist or vocalist). Arpeggios, broken chords and other technical exercises are also vital, but they build on scales, so scales are where we start this conversation.

It’s difficult to convince kids to play scales. I understand this (although I have always loved their structure and consistency) but refusing to practise technical work only hinders progress. The benefits for technique, style, rhythm, tone and aural awareness are all listed below, but there is also a big reason that relates to more recreational music…

Piano Teacher in Wallsend NSWChords! All the popular music that kids like to play revolves around chords. Chords are based on scales. If the scales flow freely from your fingers and the construction is understood, chords can come easily. Improvise with chords – with or without a melody line – and you can follow a lead sheet and play a vast range of songs.

Scales are the backbone of all types of music we play and each one of the variety of styles is defined by its characteristic interval pattern. It is the constant repetition of these patterns that causes scales to be such a large part of learning to play an instrument – including the voice – because they help build muscle memory. By playing scales, your fingers will learn to easily go to the correct notes in the scale you are playing, so when you play a piece of music, your fingers will move more automatically to the correct notes.

Piano teacher Wallsend NSWWhy practice scales?

  1. Scale practice plays an essential part in developing a pianist’s skills.
  2. They improve keyboard fluency.
  3. Scales develop posture, hand position and coordination, as well as balance between the hands and movement of the arm.
  4. Practising scales speeds up the learning of new pieces (muscle memory).
  5. They develop evenness of line and quality of tone.
  6. Scale playing builds aural awareness.

 

 

 

For students preparing for an exam, the examiner will be looking for:

  • A positive sense of rhythm without under-accentuation;
  • Even, firm tone and a musical curve;
  • Good legato;
  • Accurate and fluent realisation of the different types of scales, arpeggios and broken chords; and
  • Convincing negotiation of technical challenges such as smooth passage of thumb and hand coordination.

So the lesson here is, whether for technique or pleasure, we need to learn to love scales. They are incredibly beneficial physically and the basis of all we do as musicians. All practise sessions should start with a variety of scales, even if their only purpose is to warm up the fingers and hands (although we know they do much more than that). To break up the repetitive nature of practising scales every day, apps such as Blitz Book’s ‘Scale Blitzer’ can add a bit of fun and variety.

If you are considering music lessons for your child or for yourself, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW.