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How valuable is practicing scales? Any good alternatives?

Discussion in 'Technique' started by Anonymous, Sep 22, 2007.

  1. bclever

    bclever New Member

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    I'm sorry if somebody has said this before in this thread or another, but practicing scales is
    fundamental to eventually making your own music (i.e., composing and improvising).
    If you don't care about making your own music then I agree with everybody that says
    they are not that important, but I know many musicians that will sneer at a player that
    can't play a solo over some simple chord progressions.
     
  2. mixah

    mixah New Member

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    I can, as long as it's simple chords...

    once I had a chord chart where I was needed to play like...

    C# Maj 7-12-32 flat-6

    and I'll never forget that....

    It was given to me by David Liebman (the famous Sax player.. he lives around me and gives lectures and teaches at the local university)
     
  3. musicrecovery

    musicrecovery Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello asf62,

    I suggest you practice scale passages only in pieces you are currently playing rather than spending time with abstract scale exercies. This will help you focus on the problems at hand. When dealing with a challenge, I feel it is best to pick and choose one's priorities with great care. Practice only what you need to practice to improve your interpretation of the piece.

    When you play your scale passages, try to zero in on the position that feels best to you.
    Without straining any other part of your hand, perhaps you need to turn your wrist a bit to the right or the left. Do not try to compensate too much because you do not want to create a new problem from overuse. Try this slowly.

    Try to relax your thumbs as much as you can while away from the piano by placing your hands on a table and tucking your thumbs slightly under your index fingers. I would try to do this a few times a day.

    I hope you feel better.

    Kaila Rochelle
     
  4. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    There has been a long-standing myth in pedagogy about "passing the thumb under the hand" in playing scales. There is actually no need of it. Scales are played more easily and efficiently with the thumb kept beside and parallel to the hand. What it means is that instead of using the third finger as a pivot point and turning the hand with the pivoting and the thumb diving under the palm, you simply move the whole hand laterally into the direction of the scale without the thumb ever ending up under the palm. If you try that, I believe you'll feel the greater ease of playing that way. Likewise, because we learn scales to assist us in playing passage work in repertoire pieces, there again, the thumb should live beside the hand, not under it.

    David
     
  5. alf

    alf Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    How much I agree with you!

    And, by the way: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/article-preview?article_id=351
     
  6. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Alfonso,

    Yes, that's interesting that Dinu Lipatti did not subscribe to passing the thumb under the hand. Also, Gyorgy Sandor was opposed to teaching that method of playing scales. Here are some excerpts from his book On Piano Playing.

    "... we have to avoid placing the thumb under the palm of the hand at all costs. .... When the critical moment comes for the thumb to follow the third or fourth finger, let us anticipate the event with a slight outward motion of the upper arm (and elbow), a slight lift of the thumb alongside the hand, a slight lowering of the wrist in preparation for the thumb, and then a quiet descent of the thumb to the next note. The size of these individual motions is minimal. This preparation is a perfectly natural, easy motion to execute...."

    It surprises me that there are still piano teachers out there training intermediate pupils in passing the thumb under!
     

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