Learning scales...

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by lilcornetgirl, Feb 16, 2007.

  1. lilcornetgirl

    lilcornetgirl Member

    Im doing my grade 5 since grade 3 i just couldnt remember sclaes i couldnt do it in grade4 either... Its really hard i think... I just wondered if anyone can help me try and remember them or if people have the same trouble with the graded exams... Ive tried learning them in differant places so i cold put a picture to the scale... Ive tried doing it over n over again.... Till i remember it and tried practiesing on akeyboard in college so i can see were the note is... And trying the T-T-S...... pattern im just stuck now....

    Please help... xXx
  2. Maestro

    Maestro Active Member

    I found it easier if I pictured a keyboard in my head. That way i could see the semitones.
  3. horn-girlie

    horn-girlie Member

    I used to hate learning scales aswell, and found the only way was repetition. I had a scale book and would play a scale a few times using the music, and then would try from memory. If I went wrong, then I would go back to using music for a bit.

    I think it was about grage 5ish that I started to struggle quitye a bit too, and my teacher told me to write the name of each scale on a piece of paper, and get two boxes/margarine tubs. If you play the scale right first time, then put it in one box, if not put it in the other. Each day pick 5scales from each box. This way you are making sure that you are playing the hard scales, not just picking the easy ones! But it also ensures that you don;t ignore scales that you could previously play! Quite long winded but it got me there in the end!

    In terms of minor scales, I always found it easier to get the harmonic minor really secure before learning the melodic. Just what I found, but learning both together used to confuse me!

    Also, once your exam is over (and good luck for it :)) try to keep playing through your scales, otherwise by the time you get to grade 6 you'll have to learn them all over again!

    Wow, possibly the longest reply I've ever wrote!! So I'll shut up now, and all the best for your exam x
  4. timbloke

    timbloke Member

    There are a few previous threads (eg here) with some good suggestions, do a quick search fo scales.

    I particularly like the writing the names of the scales on pieces of paper then putting them in a hat and picking them out at random. Also learning them backwards (top to bottom then back up) helps because it means you need to think more!
  5. Kaskaey

    Kaskaey Member

    i started mine by learning the coordination on the piano. Ive found it also helps learning them twice in the major/minor equivalent cuz then it sticks in your head more. I forgot scales untill after grade 7. My mum stood outside the door and listened to me fail my scales and gave me the talking to of my life. i am now aiming to power through them by next week! hahar.
  6. Kaskaey

    Kaskaey Member

    ive just thought of another way to learn them! if you learn your scales with your left hand pushing the valves, it makes your brain work harder. This supossedly makes them easier when transfering back to your right hand.
  7. jasonG

    jasonG New Member

    A couple of things that might help you visualise your scales.... Firstly can you/do you improvise ever? Even playing tunes you know, be it the theme from Eastenders or a favorite programme will help you hear the right notes in your head and slowly convert to what you do with your fingers. Try doing the same tune in several different keys.....The other thing that I find useful for students that isn't always learnt during scale pratice is to know and associate the key you are in with the amount of sharps or flats for that key. ie You are asked to play a Eb major scale, first imagine the key sig, 3 flats then identify those flattened notes to be Bb, Eb and Ab then apply your TTS TTTS pattern. In short, Know the key you are playing in. Hope this may help.
  8. Daisy Duck

    Daisy Duck Member

    The best way of learning scales is to play them over and over and over and over and over again! It's boring, but basically the only way. Practise starting on different notes as well.
    When I was learning my scales, I tended to stick a practice mute in the end of the trumpet and then watch TV while doing the scales over and over again so I wasn't even really thinking about what I was doing.
    Make sure you know what the scale is supposed to sound like as well. I know a brass teacher round here who teaches scales solely by fingerings rather than using note names as well, and I don't think that's a great idea.
  9. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Learning your scales and learning your keys is really the same thing. Try writing your scales out with the sharps and flats in place rather than in a key sign at the start. At least then you can see where the sharp/flat notes actually happen.

    Any strategy you adopt that works is worth sticking to.

    The idea of playing tunes that you know on different notes of a scale is an excellent idea. start with C and work up. If you can, pick both a major tune and a minor tune.

    If you get good at that, try doing it round the cycle of fifths (C,G,D,A,E etc) making sure the tune still sounds like the same tune each time you do it!
  10. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    As a bit of a musical numpty the only way I could learn them is to practice over and over again. As far as I was concerned there was no magic method, just tedious repitition practice and I hated it, but it is worthwhile trust me! And it does eventually start to get easier. I also used the "margerine tub" method which helped get them from being 50% there to being really solid.

    And as someone has already said - keep practicing them, otherwise you will forget (like me :( )

    Best of luck with you exam.
  11. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Active Member

    A couple of questions:
    Do you have a teacher?
    Have you asked for their help?
    What did they say?
    If you are already getting help on your scales from your teacher, I would be reluctant to try any other method of learning just because some people on the internet says that it is the best way to do something.
    If your teacher doesn't have any better suggestions than "buy a scale book and learn them" I would suggest that it is as much their fault as it is yours, with apologies to the teacher if they are reading (and also to anyone who might publish scale books).
    There are many ways of getting scales to stick, but they all require effort on your part. Which strategy works for you is something that is best discussed between a student and a good teacher, who understands the various teaching methods and how best to use them.

    If you don't have a teacher, I would strongly suggest that they are very useful things to have - even if only occassionally. A good teacher will be able to suggest various strategies for learning scales.

    For me, personally, I find that the scale books are next to useless. If you are wanting to read a scale for an exam, fantastic - however, if you are trying to get to grips with one of the fundamentals of playing any instrument, they are best used for starting the fire to keep warm on those winter evenings. My main method, when teaching treble clef brass, is to teach scales in a fairly logical manner, starting with C major (easy - no sharps, no flats and tends to be the first that most players achieve the range for). The next one will be the relative natural minor (A natural minor, in this case - still no sharps or flats). I don't go for the melodic or harmonic because those are more complicated and don't help students understand the relative nature of major and minor scales.
    When they are able to get a D, introduce D natural minor - again, relating everything to key signatures and theory - they are learning their theory without knowing it. One flat to remember - this will ALWAYS be their first flat when it comes to key signatures.
    Next will be either E natural minor or Bb major, depending whether they are ascending to the E with ease.
    All the time, logical progression through the number of sharps or flats - never suddenly introducing 2 or 3 extra sharps to remember (as the exam boards are so keen to do).
    When the theory of major/natural minor is understood (usually around the Grade 2 level) I introduce harmonic minor scales as a variation of natural minor. When the theory of this is understood, the melodic can usually be added without a great deal of confusion.

    It takes more time to get to those scales needed for exams, but if exams are your sole reason for learning scales, you are already beyond hope (sorry).
    Scales are a fundamental part of playing ANY instrument, even if you never do exams. They are worth the effort.
  12. Write the scales on maniscript paper, photocopy and plaster all over your bedroom wall and house!!!! ;-)
  13. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    If you cannot get enough time to physically practice and memorise them, a good idea is to visualise the scales and ghost the fingering (with or without key signatures). You have to know what you are attempting before executing the exercise.
  14. six pints

    six pints Active Member

    I also used the margerine tub... it worked for me! Also if u get a non-brass person examining you, you can play the scale up/down a semitone if u dont remember the one ur supposed to be playing :)
  15. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member

    i did that! :oops:
  16. six pints

    six pints Active Member

    everyone does! its not cheating, its improvising...
  17. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    Scales are marks in the bag in an exam situation, how you learn them is up to how much effort you put in. TrumpetMike gave good advice.
    Apart from marks in the bag, they are essential if you want to progress as a player.
  18. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Active Member

    Never, ever, ever do this. You are cheating yourself and you run the risk of an examiner with perfect pitch catching you out and seriously marking you down for doing so.
    Yes, it is slightly (only slightly) amusing to suggest it, but if you do this you are not learning your scales, you are wasting your time and effort in doing the exam.
    If you do this and pass your exam because of it - you are not worthy of calling yourself a player of that standard.
    It is simply cheating - not clever, not funny, not any indication of your ability on the instrument.
  19. Maestro

    Maestro Active Member

    Well said Mike.
  20. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    One thing I like to do in my warm up is run through a couple of scales and/or arpeggios as part of my warm-up exercises. I know it sounds sad, but if you can make yourself do it it will help. Pick any couple of scales and do as many octaves as your instrument will allow, up and down. You could do it systematically by playing up a chromatic (Start on C Major, then C# Major, then c minor, then c#minor for example) or do like I said before go round the cycle of 5ths. Challenge yourself and don't get disheartend if you don't get them all right the first time through.

    You can play them in lots of different ways, legato, staccato, to a dotted rhythm whatever. If it makes it easier to do and/or more enjoyable then do it. Nobody likes learning scales at first. It can be the most dull boring task, but with a bit of imagination you can make it more interesting.

    Like people have said don't ever, ever cheat at it. You're only cheating yourself.

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