Active Member
So being honest, how many people on here has learnt every scale, and how much has it helped you?
Ive just started to really get to grips with mine, and learn them all as I think they are very important.


And me...

"You'll never get a distinction if you don't know all your scales" (my teacher - all those years ago!)

No problems with the majors but a bit rusty on the minors now, I must admit...

(and don't you have to do a whole tone scale nowadays too?)



I know most of mine because im doin my grade 8 this year.

Grade 8 euph u have to know all majors all minors harmonic and melodic, Chromatic on F#-C

All arpeggios

Lots of dom 7ths

all three diminished 7ths

whole tones beginning on B and C



Active Member
I've recently been doing major scales as a warm up for practice (go up from c to c major scales in an octave) but other than that.......



Supporting Member
I had to learn every single scale & broken chord when I did grades (do you still have to?). It was a total pain at the time, but it definitely makes life easier now and I would def. reccommend it. Sit in a band trying to play a piece like Tristan and you soon see who's learnt the scales and who hasn't!! :lol:
Scales are evil!! :evil:
Although they can be very useful to get to grips with playing, I think they are more suitable to fish!!!!!! :D :p


Active Member
only time i've ever practised scales was for either a grade exam (only did up to 6 anyway) or scales exam at the northern. I never found them that helpful to tell you the truth, but each to their own. I use harmonic structures in my warm up yes, but not whole scales.
I learnt the grade 8 scales so I could pass the exam (with distinction :D ) however I didn't really learn them properly until I was at music college and we had an exam on them (tends to focus the mind a bit). They are now so ingrained that I could not forget them even if I wanted to!

Being able to play them well enough to pass a grade is a completely different thing from having the technical mastery of the instrument to play all scales across the range of the instrument. You should aim to make each note the same irrespective of register (this includes tone, production, articulation, end of the note, intonation etc.).

One thing I have noticed about the way others practice thier scales. Players tend to start on the lowest note (F# or E) and play a two octave scale. They then move up a semi-tone and play that scale two octaves and so on. The problem wth this approach is that all the upper notes are left to the end with a detrimental effect on the chops. I thnk it is much better to use a cycle of fifths for your starting notes (ie Bb,Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, etc) as this will spread the work your embouchue has to do.

One thought on scales to leave you with:

· If you think you’ve mastered the playing of scales – think again, were all
those notes really perfect?


Well-Known Member
I think the importance of learning scales and arpeggios is more than just to do with physical technique; it's to do with a complete musical education, and gaining an understanding of how music is constructed, which in turn can only help with your actual playing. I would even go further, and say that some of the best players also have a comprehensive understanding of music theory overall, especially principles of harmony and counterpoint; if you understand exactly how your part fits into the musical whole, you are in a much better position to make an effective contribution to the ensemble.

My own experience is probably similar to that of many others: when I was learning to play, scales just seemed a nuisance; now, when I'm teaching, I find myself frustrated at not being able to make students understand their importance! (All part-and-parcel of being a trainee 'old fart', I suppose!)

Seriously, a lot of the work I find myself called upon to do includes a high proportion of fairly demanding sight-reading/sight-transposition. Basically, I wouldn't be able to do it if I didn't have a sound knowledge of scales and arp.s.


Naomi McFadyen

New Member
Scales are really handy (I'm not saying I know them mind!)... they are written in music all the time... (you know those running passages? they're scales! ;-))

I had to do them when doing those dreaded music exams... I usually failed them though, or got a very low pass... then I discovered the Trinity sillybus (;-)) for grade 8 saxophone, in which instead of scales you had the choice of doing an extra study, in which I had to improvise most of the piece... I did well in that... 14/15...

Did ABRSM grade 8 percussion though, but I found learning the scales a week before the exam on a xylophone was easier than any wind instruments I did scales for due to all the notes being in front of me and I could think about what I was doing easier... can't remember the individual mark I got for scales, but I did very very well in the over-all result :D ...(I'll never forget about admitting not knowing my scales in my grade 6 clarinet exam...)



Active Member
I've always found scales to bea easy to learn. There is no doubt that being able to play the piano has helped as well. They are so much easier to learn if you can picture a keyboard in you mind, then you can see where the semitones actually are. That is providing you know where the semitones come in the scales in the first place :dunno


Active Member
I hated learning them at the time, but can see the point now I'm older (but not neccessarily wiser!). As Accidental says, when the runs get tough you can soon tell who knows their scales and who doesn't, people who do play runs without thinking about it too much, others panic whenever the page gets a bit black.
Composers of test pieces have a remedy for people who know scales, they deliberately leave notes out, swap them round etc to make it more difficult, when the note differs from what you would expect it trips you up. Anyway that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

Dave Euph

I know all major and most minor scales no problem. I can do the others but I usually have to think quite hard about it.

Also I practise the majors every practise session. :)

But ... that doesn't mean I like them! :D ... the problem is I've found them so darned useful for reasons already mentioned ... (see GJG ;))


Supporting Member
andyp said:
Composers of test pieces have a remedy for people who know scales, they deliberately leave notes out, swap them round etc to make it more difficult, when the note differs from what you would expect it trips you up. Anyway that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!
funny, I use that excuse a lot too! :lol:

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