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Relearning scales (Read 497 times)

Offline csp0401

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Relearning scales
« on: September 04, 2020, 09:22:14 AM »
Hi, I'm going to university in a month or so and I was just looking for some advice. As a pianist my weakest area has always been technique. I'm an excellent blagger when it comes to performance and I blag my way through everything which included my scales. This means even now, I don't really know my scales properly. I have done my grade 8 and did very well so I managed to do alright there. The way I'd describe my situation is that I know what my fingers should be doing, but my fingers don't have the dexterity to do it. I always slip up and play the wrong fingering. They sound quite uneven as well.

What I'm asking advice on is practising my scales. I've never really sat down and practised them in the same way many of you have. When I try to do so now I find it difficult because essentially I can blag my scales, I can play them badly at speed, so when I sit down to do slow and methodical practice I struggle because in some sense I can already play them (even though not well) and I speed up and play them faster etc. I think this is because I already have the muscle memory of the scales and in my mind I feel like I can already do this even though I don't have the dexterity for it.

I think I'm finding I don't really know where to start with relearning my scales. Theres so much I have to learn, and already having basic knowledge I don't know where to start with my practice or the structure and the technique of it. Could anybody help me with this? I'm sorry this was along read, thank you!

Offline brogers70

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Re: Relearning scales
«Reply #1 on: September 04, 2020, 11:24:59 AM »
It sounds like what happens is that you, with the best will in the world, start out trying to practice the scales slowly, but then muscle memory and enthusiasm take over and you speed up and get sloppier. I'd suggest giving your brain something to focus on while working on slow scales. There are lots of options. Pay attention to the sensation of your fingers lifting. Try to time the lifting of one finger with the fall of the next so exactly that you can trick your brain into thinking that it's the lifting finger that's producing the sound. Focus on getting the volume exactly the same between all fingers and the thumb. Pay attention to one particular finger as you play the scale, making sure it is relaxed and plays exactly on time, without thinking about the others. Pay close attention to the sensations in your hand; how relaxed can it be, how does it feel when you play a scale smoothly and evenly. Focus on the smoothness of passing the thumb. Play very, very slowly, sometimes and listen to everything about the sound, volume, decay, connection to the next note.

And it seems obvious to me, but do this all hands separate for a long time. That disrupts muscle memory and it should help you hear more clearly what's going on.

Those are just suggestions. Anything you do to engage your mind and keep interested in what's happening in slow scales will hep keep you from just "blagging" away.  Even if you cannot afford a regular teacher, having someone just check that your basic technique, posture, arm, wrist and hand position are OK would be good, too.