Are scales really necessary? : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

Hi, I would like to know something about scales and arpeggios. Are they really necessary to maintain technical efficiency? I don't know - I can play really hard pieces (because I like them) but haven't been practising scales for a LONG time. Thus they (sclaes + arp) have retrograded a bit, but it hasn't affected my own playing at all. It's just worrying me suddenly, the fact that I can't play scales and arpeggios as well as before. Should it be worrying, and if so, how can I get them back up to standard? Should I just start from scratch almost and spend hours perfecting them? I really don't feel like doing that, but if it's worth it I will. Thanks for any help.

-- SE (, March 04, 2001


SE I think that we discussed this in an earlier thread, but that old message board got shut down. In a nutshell, scales and arpeggios are important to teach the skill of turning the thumb underneath your hand. They also serve as a point of reference in music theory conversations. In sightreading, there is a important connection to the scales and arp. because as you see patterns of scales in music, you will recognize and execute without having to try and figure out the coordination issues as well as the notes themselves. It sounds to me that you can play just fine without rehearsing your scales and arp. I find that by running through my Hanon's at least a couple of times a week helps keep my technique up to par. Scales are like push- ups and sit-ups for your fingers, it keeps them strong and supple.

-- Kyle (, March 04, 2001.

SE: I'd recommend running through a few scales each time you practice until you're up to par playing them. It really doesn't take that long and I think you'll gain some valuable benefits. However, I'm not one to encourage folks to dwell on playing scales over and over till they're bored and want to quit playing, but being able to play any scale well is definitely an attribute worth seeking.

Kyle makes some good points about scales used in songs. Adding to that, depending on what you play (or if you're into improvising or composing), scales and arpeggios can definitely be important, although you may not always use a complete scale you may use parts of them. I sometimes add scales (or parts of them) as well as arps. in lots of music I play to color up the music, but that can be a matter of personal taste depending on what sound/effects you're wanting. There's some classical music with lots of scales and arps., and to me sounds beautiful. Good luck!

-- Bill (, March 07, 2001.

Thanks for the responses. I play pieces with hordes of scales and arp. in them, but they of course don't come in the "natural" form - Mozart especially, as well as Beethoven. The fingerings are totally different. And I have NO problem playing those runs. That's why I was questioning the need for scales in developing good technique.

-- SE (, March 08, 2001.

YES. Scales and arps are extremely important, since they can appear in part or in full in pieces, and actually do all the time. I find that the only way to perfect them is to practise them, i.e. spend hours perfecting them. You, as well as anyone else who plays a while, should know that that is what the piano demands by now! :)

-- Cian Johnston (, August 16, 2004.

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