Ready to practice your piano scales? Break out that metronome and consider this advice from online piano teacher Crystal B...
When it comes to practicing piano scales, the subject of tempo always comes up. Many students are unsure of what tempo scales should be practiced, and the truth of the matter is, the answer will vary depending on the student. A good rule of thumb is always start slowly and work your way up to faster tempos. Here are some tips to help you assess your individual abilities and decide on a good starting tempo.
What tempo can you play the scale with note accuracy?
One of the main reasons for practicing piano scales is to learn the correct notes in each scale. I have seen cases where students will try to play the scales too fast and in the process, they miss notes or play incorrect notes. When you are first learning scales, start slow enough to really think about the notes you are playing. Which notes are flat? Which notes are sharp?
What tempo can you play each note evenly?
In addition to the theory knowledge they provide, playing through scales is also a great technical exercise! To get the full benefit of the exercise, make sure that as you play through the scale, all of the notes are played evenly. If you find that you are playing at a tempo which causes certain notes to be played faster than others, slow down! You can always speed up once you have a perfectly even scale. And make sure you don’t use the pedal while practicing this way. You want to be able to really hear the transition from note to note.
What tempo can you play the scale with the correct fingering?
This is such an important factor that gets overlooked many times during piano practice. But missing this critical step will make it very difficult to accomplish the task of playing each note evenly — especially once you try to start increasing your speed! I definitely recommend playing each hand separately before trying to play your right and left hand together. This is very important when you’re learning correct fingering because each hand is crossing over or tucking under at different points. Getting this right will take lots of practice, but it is well worth the investment of time and effort. After a certain point, your fingers will be able to do this on auto-pilot and the good news is, many of the scales use the same fingering.
The most important thing to remember is to start slowly! Fight the urge to play too fast in the beginning. Remember, you can always increase your tempo (and should!) once you have mastered the correct way to play the scale and can do so evenly.
Crystal B. teaches piano online. She has been teaching all ages and levels for more than 15 years. Learn more about Crystal here!
Photo by Jørgen Schyberg