How to improve your techniques – Scales
by John Dapaah, piano coach at SHS
Techniques are an important part of playing the piano. It may not be the most exciting thing but it definitely helps you play better. There are many techniques but today I’ll be focusing on the scales.
Scales are one of the first techniques everyone learns. Here are a few tips on playing better scales.
1. Relax your thumb
With scales (and most techniques) Your thumb plays a big role. Most ascending scales on the white keys have the following right hand fingering – 12312345. When your thumb is relaxed, it’s easier to cross over between the first “1231” fingering. Having a relaxed thumb can help you play cleaner and faster.
2. Practice in patterns
As mentioned above, the regular scale fingering is “12312345”. It is sometimes helpful to break the fingering into patterns. Play the 123, then hop to the next position. Practicing scales in patterns helps you memorize it faster.
3. Practice with different rhythms
Playing the scales with different rhythms can help you improve them dramatically. When you play a scale as a whole, you will naturally put stress on your thumb. When you change the stress notes you may find it easier. My personal favourite is playing scales in triplets (playing 3 notes at a time).
Let’s take the C major scale (in 2 octaves) for example.
Instead of playing “CDEFGABCDEFGABC…” all at once, I would play “CDE FGA BCD EFG ABC..etc.” Eventually, you will be able to play fast scales in triplets without even noticing.
Hope this helps to improve your technique!