A scale is so much more than a row of notes to be mindlessly and mechanically played up and down as exercise day after day after day. Your musicianship will be much better served by appreciating scales in all their musical dimensions and by studying-practicing them accordingly.
If you study-practice scales the right way, you will…
- Develop your music reading skills.
- Develop your aural comprehension skills.
- Learn your way around the piano by discovering the unique and sometimes quirky patterns of white and black notes in each key.
- Understand the intimate connection between scales and chords and learn that melody is harmony and vice versa.
- Acquire musical vocabulary for improvising.
To that end, here are some important ways to know a scale…
- Visio-spatial layout, letter names, scale degrees, and sound names (Solfege) of the music notation.
- Visio-spatial layout, letter names, scale degrees, and sound names (Solfege) of the piano keys.
- Sound-feelings of each note.
- Key signature.
- Collection of overlapping and interrelated modes.
- Relation to other scale types that share the same key center (parallel scales).
- Relation to other scales that share the same key signature (relative scales).
- Collection of inter-related chords.
- Collection of scale-chord relationships.
- Physical activity (technique, fingering, choreography)
Studying scales in so many aspects may seem like an overwhelming task, until we realize that…
- Studying each scale in such depth does not take as much time as you think.
- Time is not the enemy. The real challenge is to focus attention.
- There is an enormous amount of overlap between scales, chords, and other musical patterns. The effort you invest in one aspect of musicianship will pay enormous dividends in many other aspects and will be mutually reinforcing.