Top Tips for Practising Scales

6 months ago
ABRSM

Practising scales isn’t always the most glamorous part of being a musician, but improving your scales is absolutely crucial to developing as a musician and taking your technical fluency to the next level!

With this in mind, we asked the question ‘how can I make my scales practice more fun?’ to some of the best musicians we know: our audience on social media! And you didn’t let us down – read on to learn some top tips on making scale practice more engaging for you and your students.

Some people identified the need to change up the way you play scales, whether that’s by using different rhythms, articulation, or even a whole new style of music to inject some variety.

“Play along with a drum track and try using different rhythms for fun.”
Louise

“Different rhythms. Descending then ascending. At the same time as someone else (particularly silly if you’re going in opposite directions or playing different scales or both). Or any combination of the above.”
Deborah

“Do variations. Staccato, legato. Ascending, descending. With contrary motion mixed in. And scales repeated at different speeds. Becomes like a game and is fun and challenging.”
reverie.music.sl

“I use backing tracks and change style and tempo every time. Go from cha cha to swing to waltz …”
reggiemusique

“Dotted rhythms. Mess around with patterns and include triplets, so that a run of 8 quavers becomes ‘tiddly pom, tiddly pom’. Then reverse the pattern, ‘pom tiddly, pom tiddly’. Also reverse the dotted rhythm from ‘long short long short’ to the opposite, ‘short long short long’. Use a metronome to keep it going.”
Hilary

You can also leave which scales you play next to chance…

“Pot with slips of paper with them written on. Lucky dip!”
Helen

“This is a great question! Writing the different scales on pieces of paper, folding them up and picking them out of a hat to make a random scales generator game?”
Wycliffe Music

…or think of an entertaining narrative to say entertained!

“I used to play them as revenge on the family when they made me mad. As a hormonal teen it was not infrequent. But two hours of solid scales each time, in an angry tone, did mean I only lost a mark on them that year. “
Tse

“When my 4 year old daughter practised scales, she told me the first note is a hospital and the last note has a very sick patient which an ambulance form the hospital needs to pick up and send him/her back to hospital. While she is playing she keeps saying “nee ngaw, nee ngaw, nee ngaw” all the way go and back.”
Abby

One thing everyone agreed on was rewarding yourself for your efforts practising!

“Reward yourself with a biscuit after playing the scale 3 times in a row perfectly!”
rachaelvictoriamusic

“Sweets and chocolate after doing them well always helped me.”
jade_is-bored14

If you need further help when practising your scales then be sure to check out our Scale Trainer apps, currently available for piano and violin!

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