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Visualizing Scales

June 23, 2013

It is daunting when there are so many scales to practice, with so many different black notes and key signatures.

However, I have noted that there are mainly 5 types of scales up to ABRSM Grade 5 practical requirements.

Scales are divided into 4 main categories:
– Normal major / minor scales
– Contrary Motion
– Chromatic Scales
– Arpeggios

In each category, there are 12 scales, however they repeat the same motion.

Normal Scales
Fingerings are fixed for major / minor harmonic / melodic music. Each scale have a fixed fingering to start with and turn. All the scales turn using finger 3 and 4.
Students must use their own initiative to find out the different fingerings to start and when to turn.

Contrary Motion

To practice, first there is a need to practice normal scales instead from left to right, but right to left, and back to right. This instinctively assist the brain to remember to play the music backwards. Moving on, it will be easier to play contrary motion.

Chromatic Scales

For practice, chromatic scales are the most fun thing for the students. Except for the two white keys that are beside each other which is using finger 1 and 2, the other white and black keys using finger 1 and 3 respectively.


To practice, Arpeggios technically could be played just using the same fingerings for all type of chords. Right hand uses fingering 1, 2 & 3 constantly and 5 to end. Left hand uses 3, 2 & 1 constantly and 5 to start.
To facilitate playing the arpeggios, leaps are required to practice from one space to another. Eg. in C Major, a leap must be performed for RH from G to C.
To progressively practice the leap, there is a need to learn how to jump from one note to another, then chord to chord and after that arpeggios.

Thus with the simplification of the scales requirement, wouldn’t it be that hard to practice?


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