LET'S MAKE SCALES PRACTICE FUN
Scales can sometimes seem like a chore but it doesn't have to be! have a go at these simple ideas that BDMA tutor Jess came up with to help you make it an enjoyable part of your of your practice routine...
Close your eyes and say the notes of the scale
It’s important that scales aren’t learnt just by muscle memory, but you also understand the theory.
If you don’t feel like playing that day you can test yourself with whether you know all the notes!
The next stage of this is to write out the notes of the scale.
Improvise on the scale
Choose a scale, for example F major.
Then improvise a little tune either using all the notes of the scale or building the scale up.
Maybe start with F and Bb (to remember there is one flat in F major) and then gradually add notes until you are using the whole scale.
There are so many ways you can create scales flashcards, here are just a couple of ideas
- Create “note” flashcards and group all the scales you are learning on that note onto one flashcard - eg. draw the letter C on the front and on the back write all the scales you do on that note (major, arpeggio, chromatic etc). Then pick a flashcard at random and on that practice session you play all your scales for that note.
- Separate out the different scales - major, harmonic minor, dominant 7ths, whole tone scales (depending on how advanced you are getting!).
- Write a definition that you understand for each scale. Eg. harmonic minor has a raised 7th. Then pick a scale from the pack and see how many notes you can cover on that scale.
Play them backwards
We are so used to playing scales from bottom to top but have you tried from top to bottom?!
This is especially good for technique on woodwind and brass instruments because of having to pitch the top note, making sure you have the correct embouchure (mouth position).
Pair up and take it in turns to play a note
If you have a friend/sibling/family member to practice with why not make your brain cogs really whir and take it in turns to play a note.
So if you were playing C major, you would start with C, then the other player would play D and then you would play E, they would play F and so on…
Visualise the pattern of the scale
What shape do you “see” the scale? Does your hand position have to do something fiddly? Does the pitching move around quite a lot?
Think about certain bits of the scale and the challenges they have and try to visualise how you get past those challenges.
Do you know your key signatures?
There are a LOT of key signatures to remember and notes to think about in scales. Do you know all the key signatures for your scales?
Practice drawing out the key signatures on a stave, you could even create a poster to put with your music books.