Part of the joy of teaching students who have had lessons with another teacher, whether it be recently or in the distant past, is to find out the things that they were taught, how they were taught and what their overall memory of their previous lessons is. One thing that crops up eventually is the learning and practising of scales - you know, those pesky exercises some of you were made to do without any apparent rhyme or reason. For some of you, it was the worst part of learning to play! Boring, monotonous... and all without any explanation of why they were even useful in the first place. It's time to set the record straight and give you some new ways to play your scales that will help get some variety back in to your practise.
In my opinion, scales are giving you two benefits - a theory benefit and a technical benefit. The theory is going to allow you to play more of your favourite songs, to feel comfortable with your knowledge of chords, improve your improvisation and songwriting and help you fundamentally understand how music is made. The playing of the scales will also allow you to become familiar with the shape of the scale - how many white keys and black keys there are - so that when you play a song in that key you may not have to think so much about the notes you want to play.
The playing of scales can also give your technique a boost if you approach them with a purpose. For most prior learning, students have played scales up and down, trying to be even and smooth. Over and over again, building in speed. Over and over. Over and over. Not. Very. Fun. Not much of a purpose.
So when I do my scales practise I give myself a direct instruction to work on a specific aspect of my technique. This might include:
Things I've been watching/listening to this week: