Scales: Object of torture or helpful life skill?
By Kiara Haubrick, Piano & Voice Instructor at Destiny Studio
So many of my students groan and moan when it is time to do scales and cadences. I understand how mundane and frustrating these tasks can be--especially when songs or improv seem more appealing. However, scales are not just a way for me, as a teacher, to torture my students or fill up my lesson times; instead, it is a great way to teach technique, knowledge of key signatures, and song structure.
Mastering the fingering and speed of scales teaches your fingers how to maneuver the keys of a keyboard. So many songs require fast moving notes and without the muscle memory it takes a long time to accomplish this. Scales are an easy way to build the muscles in your fingers without worrying about complicated rhythms and notes, So when a student chooses a difficult song they can handle it with ease
Key signatures = what sharps or flats you play in a song. Learning this through scales allows the student to pick up any song and know what key its in and how to play it.
Most importantly, scales teach you song structure. In my lessons I require my students to learn cadences for every key. A cadence is a typical sequence of chords often used to make a song. My students also learn different inversions of these chords so they can play them in different forms. This skill is great for students who want to write they’re own songs or want a quick way to be able to play the piano. It is a mix between reading chord charts and reading sheet music.
So, keep in mind scales and cadence are a great way to reach any music goals and if a student can muscle through the monotony, they can see the big picture and begin playing like a pro!