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Advice on how to make practising Scales fun

(14 Posts)
xing Sat 25-Aug-12 22:20:04

DS is 6.5 and is learning piano. He enjoys learning the pieces but always saying scales are boring. Any advice on how to make scales playing fun?

pollyontheshore Sat 25-Aug-12 22:30:45

My experience is with the violin but lots will transfer... Play them in as many ways as possible: like a spider, elephant, snake (etc), angrily, dreamily, creepy, grumpy, surprised (etc etc), getting louder, quieter, etc. (This will automatically use lots of different articulations - staccato, legato etc).

Play them with a rhythm from a piece they are learning (that rhythm on each note - i.e. if playing 'happy birthday' and scale of C, 'happy birthday to you' on C, 'happy birthday to you' on D etc etc - this is really useful on violin, maybe less so on piano???)

Make up a short piece or phrase only using notes from the scale (and on the piano I guess using the same finger patterns if possible). Even better if that piece has a mood or style linked to a piece they are playing.

I also like asking students to say the letter names (easy up, less easy going down) occasionally (can time them and see how fast they can say them).

Hope that helps and that you'll get some more piano orientated ideas...

Joshpoodlehamster Tue 28-Aug-12 11:09:56

Our teacher who is very arty draws pictures of dogs alongside the scale. A scary scale gets a sketch of a terrier and an easier scale gets a labrador. Obviously works. Grade 7 scale pages covered in rottweilers, pit bulls and devil dogs. Now we're starting Grade 8 I'm wondering where the pair of them will take this. One is 12 years the other is over 40.

pianomama Thu 30-Aug-12 16:35:14

It'll have to be Cerberus for G8 smile.

DC was taught to practice scales with different accents and rythms as well as stacatto/legato etc - he thought it was fun and also helps to achieve evenness.

xing Sun 02-Sep-12 20:39:38

Thanks everyone.

pollyontheshor and pianomama, you both said "Play with a rhythm". It sounds like a very good idea. But what does it mean exactly? Sorry I am totally non-musical. blush

pianomama Mon 03-Sep-12 18:19:23

smile instead of playing ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta try say taa-ta-ta-taa-ta-ta ,then ta-ta-taa-ta-ta-taa etc , get him to invent his ownsmile
I suspect your DS knows what this mean , get him to clap some simple tunes he knows and use them for scales

xing Mon 03-Sep-12 21:39:49

Pianomama, thanks a lot. I will try this with him.

Theas18 Fri 07-Sep-12 09:17:56

Scales ARE boring! There is no getting away from that. They are also the backbone of music- think of them as " spelling lists" for music LOL

Changing the rhythm helps as above. We have a " formula" that they use involving playing straight, sluring in pairs /cross slurs /whole slurs then dotted/back dotted (then change the tonguing/articulation on a wind instrument) too.

I'm so glad I don't (generally) have to do this with them, though so have to cajole the youngest before exams.

Very many years ago my aged piano teacher used to make up words for things- I can recall the broken chord ones but not the scales !

UptoapointLordCopper Sat 08-Sep-12 19:11:09

I loved scales. blush

pianomama Mon 10-Sep-12 14:32:53

My DS loves scales smile

morethanpotatoprints Thu 13-Sep-12 22:56:45

Aother one here, my dd loves scales on all four instruments, but she is a freak, lol.

BackforGood Tue 18-Sep-12 00:45:37

I was going to say that scales are boring and there's not a lot you can do about it (I like the comparison with learning spellings), but, thanks to polly I will now try a few of those with my dc smile

putri Mon 24-Sep-12 12:34:09

Mine does a duet with the instructor. They do chopsticks together. I'm not sure if it's the name of the song or if it's what they call it. But dd LOVES it.

ByTheWay1 Wed 26-Sep-12 11:51:03

Scales are a bit boring - but as well as actually doing scales, you need to be relating the scales to the pieces too -

my dd saw no importance for scales at all until her piano teacher started to say things like -" look this is just your A major scale on this bit you think is tricky - so just warm up with A major a few times and you'll play this piece no problems..."

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