Scale Query?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by emziesonic, Oct 26, 2008.

  1. emziesonic

    emziesonic Member

    does anyone have any tips on how you can learn scales quickly? Is there any cheat ways of learning them quickly?
    e.g the basic minor and major scales not the harmonic and crabwise scales e.t.c
    And when I say quickly I mean 2 weeks!:redface:

    Any advice would be great...:tup

    Thanks Em x
  2. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    there isn't really a good cheat - imho the only sure fire way is learning the keys and practice! If you can stomach it repetition really is the quickest way.

    I likd the Arban exercises too - it helps with the enharmonics, and it was the only way I could get my head round the diminished 7ths!
  3. Hells Bones

    Hells Bones Active Member

    Audition to music college eh?
    Best way I find is to just play them and play them. If you play a wrong note, stop and start again and don't move on until you play the scale right.

    Got one at RWCMD?
  4. Ipswich trom

    Ipswich trom Member

    There is an easy way! Remember the pattern. e.g. the gap between the notes for major scales is always: tone, tone, semitone, tone tone, tone, semitone.
  5. emziesonic

    emziesonic Member

    Nope got my audition at NYBBGB.:DMusic College is only just around the corner though!
  6. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Why not try and create a mental image of the scales?
  7. lynchie

    lynchie Active Member

    practicing crabwise scales helps to cover all the scales.

    20 minutes churning out scales every day should easily get them under your fingers in 2 weeks.
  8. Al

    Al Member

  9. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    Slow, accurate practising. The phrase my university teacher used was "so slow you can't go wrong" - repeat until you achieve a reasonable speed, but only ever raise the tempo in small stages - if you make mistakes you slow down again.

    If I might be the one to say it, if you have left it until the last two weeks then you are going to have to work hard now.
    Scales are best learnt at a steady pace, so that they become part of your daily routine. When I am working with my students I encourage them to get their scales under their fingers from as early as possible. They don't learn them because of exams, they learn them because they are useful. It means that when they do take an exam the scales (or any sort of exam/audition where scales are required) they already know the ones they will need (and usually a great deal more) so have absolutely no problems.
  10. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    I agree with Trumpetmike: slow,regular practice. If you make a mistake, stop and start again. I suggest you start with low F sharp and then work your way up the chromatic scale, first with major keys, then minor. (This way you will mix up the easy and difficult scales). Try to play scale (asc and dec) and arpeggio (asc, dec, asc and end on a pause) over two octaves in a single breath. Do this every day - it will also work wonders for your high register!

    The only cheat I know is to keep your second valve firmly down for E major (and for C sharp minor - until you reach B sharp!).

    Best of luck.
  11. Sopman

    Sopman Member

    I'm helping my daughter work on her Grade 5 scales, the best way we have come up with is to start slow as Trumpetmike says till they fall easily under the fingers. We also break them down if she starts fumbling over the notes. Quite a few are 1 1/2 octaves rather than 2 full octaves so we start by working on one octave just up to start with over and over, once that works we go down the octave till that's ok, then up and down then add the last 1/2 octave, or the second octave..... it works for us and within a couple of days she had about 9 of the scales under her fingers no problem. She's 10 so needs some help from time to time, but this approach of breaking them down seems to work for us.

    Good luck with the audition........
  12. goldencornet

    goldencornet New Member

    I also agree with TrumpetMike, slow is best!
  13. MarkGillatt

    MarkGillatt Member

    It probably won't work for you as you are auditioning for NYBBGB and they will all be brass players, but a friend of mine once passed his trade test in the Army by only memorising a couple of each type of scale (maj, min har and min mel) and playing those instead of the ones the examiner asked for. It only worked because the examiner was an oboe player and didn't have a clue about brass fingerings.
  14. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    I would just like to comment on this - I HATE Scales to a twelfth. They don't sound right to me. The only reason we ever learn them is for the ABRSM exams. When I did my grade 8 I could play any of the scales to 2 octaves (many of them to 3) and was firmly told that if I was asked to play C# major and played 2 octaves I would be marked down.
    It is one of the many things I prefer about the Trinity/Guildhall exams - on the whole the scales are either one or two octaves, all of which sound like proper scales. If you know one octave, the chances are high you know the other notes up as far as you need to - if you are happy playing scales to two octaves (or three, or four) I think you should be positively encouraged to do so. I often tell my students that we are going to learn all scales to two octaves, even if the exam says just one - because scales are VERY useful beyond the confines of the exam room. I use them a great deal in teaching control in the upper register, they are fantastic things.
  15. Mike Saville

    Mike Saville Member

    Here's a thought for you:

    How many times can you play a scale in a minute?

    Quavers at crochet = 60 - 8 times
    Quavers at crochet = 80 - 11 times
    Quavers at crochet = 120 - 16 times.

    I wouldn't have said quavers at 120 is that fast and yet you could repeat the scale 16 times in a minute. Do 5 minutes and you've clocked up 80 repetitions. I wouldn't mind betting that after two five minute sessions you would pretty much have any scale down.

    I'd recommend doing lots of short, concentrated sessions rather than plugging away at your scales for hours.

    Also, rather than the approach straightmute suggests, I would do your scales in a circle of fifths. In this way you will not save all the high notes until the end.

    Use dice, cards, etc to test and randomize the scales you need to practice.

    (you might also find a couple of useful ideas on my site in my sig :eek:)
  16. MarimbaMan

    MarimbaMan New Member

    learning scales

    being a percussionist i cant really comment on playing scales on a valve instrument, but what i used to do is make a table with the starting note down one side -

    maj min harmonic minor melodic minor
    C n/a bbb bbb(#7) up C D Eb F G A B C
    down C Bb Ab G F Eb D C
    C# bbbbb #### ####(#7) up C# D# E F# G# A# B# C#
    down C# B A G# F# E D# C#


    write this out for every note and just learn to play through them, this will take longer than two weeks though
  17. MarimbaMan

    MarimbaMan New Member


    sorry when i wrote that table out it looked great , but for some reason its all messed up....damn computer
  18. Super Ph

    Super Ph Member

    this was once the consensus view about chromatic scales! i don't think it is reasonable
  19. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    But the only reason we are taught them is for exam purposes.
    I am quite happy using modes, whole tone, chromatic, pentatonic, minor and even major scales, but playing them to the 12th is just a way of showing that you can't play 2 octaves of a scale.
    I often to scales to the 9th (which makes a beautiful pattern when learning to double tongue scales) and can play them to whatever you wish, but the required 12th for exams is, for me, something that is purely there because the ABRSM say that is the way we should play them.
  20. EIBB_Ray

    EIBB_Ray Member

    I LOVE that answer!!! What happens if they ask for G Major, then turn around and ask for F# Major and you play them D? I think even an oboe player could tell the difference between a semi-tone and a Perfect 4th. But I still love the "give them what you've got" approach.

    As for actually learning the scales, I agree to practising them slowly and all at the same speed, (i.e. don't play Ab slowly because you find it difficult and G fast because it's easy.) Force yourself to play them all at the same speed and you can only speed up once you've mastered them all without restarting.

    Another part of "How to" learn them depends on your learning style. If the "thinking in terms of pattern" appraoch doesn't work for you, perhaps actually writing them out and then palying them would help you. Some people learn better if they can see something, some if they have written it or both.

    Another option would be a scale book, like Peres Scales....

    I don't think there's a right or wrong answer, perhaps encorporate all the approaches, but in the end you can do it in 2 weeks, mostly it's just going to take consistent work. (I learned all my scales for piano proficiency exams in a couple of days, mostly by buckling down and working in the practice room.)

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