What is scale in music? Why is it important and why do we need to be knowledgeable with it as musicians? Sometimes, there is a tendency for music learners to forget the importance of practicing scales and take them for granted. If you are wondering why practicing the musical scales is essential as a piano learner, you are in the right place because in this article, we will be discussing why learning the musical scales and including them in your daily practice is vital.
A musical scale is like the formula of a foundation in creating melodies and harmonies for a song or piece. The scale is a set of tones arranged in an ascending or descending order by pitch. When you start to learn the scales in the piano, you begin with the major scales which are composed of 7 notes named by the first 7 letters of the alphabet. Among the 12 major scales, the C major scale is traditionally the first scale to be learned by beginners because all of its notes are played on the white keys of the piano. It begins from C to B (C-D-E-F-G-A-B). It is the most accessible to learn especially for learners without any background in music because they do not have to deal with the black keys yet.
Finger Dexterity Improvement
Practicing the scales aids in finger dexterity, especially when it comes to playing passages that have notes written in sixteenth or semiquaver notes, like playing the first movement of Mozart’s Sonata No. 6 in C major K. 545. Most of the passages of this piece are played on the C major scale. Practicing scales improves the strength of each finger of the hands, it is a good exercise to strengthen the weak fingers and to improve the evenness of playing each note. Even your thumb will technically improve as it will be having a lot of “thumb-under” movement. It will definitely contribute in making your sound production even and crisp which makes melodies clear.
It is advised to learn the scale in all keys: the major, natural minor, chromatic, and many more, as it enables your fingers to adapt to a key of a piece quickly and helps in familiarization of the structure of a piece. Practicing 4 octaves of scales in every major and minor key can extremely contribute to being familiar with the setting of the piano keys. It gives you the awareness of the distances between keys which can help when playing pieces with passages that have leaps. Playing the scales involves playing with all of your fingers which helps in enhancing the strength of each finger. When you include it in your practice every day, it will surely increase your playing agility dramatically especially on scale-like passages
Develops Quality Intonation
When your ear is used to the sound of intervals in a scale, the half steps and the whole steps, it gives you the awareness of how each note should sound after the other. You will notice right away if you happen to play a wrong note. Practicing scales regularly trains your ears to hear the differences of the qualities of scales in each key. It is an essential skill being knowledgeable with the intonation especially for harmonies as it can contribute in distinguishing and analyzing chord progressions.
Being a pianist does not only mean that you have the skill to press the piano keys, but also to know how to interpret a piece and to deliver it to the audience effectively. By having good intonation, it enables you to hear the progression of chords and the direction of melodies, which will guide you in improving your artistry as a piano player.
Heightens Sight Reading Skill
Sight Reading is an essential skill for a pianist. It helps you to learn all kinds of music. Sometimes when you are learning a new piece, it can be overwhelming to stumble upon loads of consecutive sixteenth or semiquaver notes in one passage. But when your hands and fingers are used to playing scales, passages like those will not be a problem. You will be ready to execute it well and with confidence. It is an added assistance to note reading, as you will be able to play intricate and advanced passages quickly and efficiently.
Being knowledgeable with different key signatures has a lot of benefits for sight reading, because it aids in key changes in a piece, as you will easily adapt with the sound and the number of accidentals played on the black keys. Aside from knowing the accidentals of a piece, it also helps in figuring out which fingers you should use when playing in a certain key.
Essential for Improvisation and Composition
The chords of songs or pieces are generally constructed from the notes of a scale in a certain key. Learning how to play the scales on the piano is a vital component when it comes to improvisation because aside from being familiar with the sound intervals of the notes in a scale, you are also capable of knowing which notes you should play in a certain key – the awareness of how many black keys you should play.
Composers are normally expected to be knowledgeable of all the key signatures because it is what the music is based on. The key signature is like the backbone of a music because it determines the chords and melodies written on it. Usually, composers are excellent pianists because they are familiar with different keys from learning the scales.
When you decide to learn the piano, it is understood that practicing scales along with other exercises like broken chords and octaves are included in your musical journey. It is like a package in aiding you to become a skillful musician. It is advisable to practice the scales as often as possible so that the fingers will be equipped in playing scale-like passages. Because playing scales is one of the foundations of a skillful pianist.