• The Major Scale Revival Program [Week #1] — “A Warm Up Mechanism For Technique Development”

    in Piano

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    This is the first week of the major scale revival program and we’re looking at the major scale as a warm up mechanism.

    The major scale can be used as a tool for technique development when it becomes an integral part of your practice routine. I’m talking about speed, independence, rotation, balance, agility and several other aspects of dexterity.

    Before we go any further, let me share a nugget or two with you on the importance of technique development.

    Technique Development: Its Importance And How It’s Acquired

    In your artistic development as a musician, there are four cardinal aspects that you must pay a lot of attention to here you are:

    1. Sight-reading skills (visual drills)
    2. Theoretical knowledge (tonal and rhythmic principles)
    3. Technical skills (exercises and etudes)
    4. Aural skills (Ear training)

    If you play by ear, you may not worry so much about the first one (sight-reading skills), and that is NOT to say that it’s not important. Heck, if you are an ear musician and can also sight-read, you are amazing — just the way you are!

    Apart from the first skill, every other skill is very vital and today we are looking at the third one and that’s the technical skill.

    “So, What Is The Importance Of A Technical Skill?”

    The only reason why advanced musicians are able to play at extremely fast (and sometimes impossible) tempos and with absolute ease is because they have the required technique.

    Playing a musical instrument is a physical activity that primarily engages the hands and feet, and then, the mouth for wind instruments like the Trumpet, Saxophone, etc.

    Truth be told, playing the piano (which is our reference in this lesson) comes with mechanical difficulties and sometimes, you may wish that your fingers could move faster and with ease, so you can execute complex melodic lines and chords with effortless ease.

    Well, everybody wishes the same. However, only those who are interested in overcoming the mechanical difficulties associated with piano playing will have the required technical skill to do so.

    Believe me, everything is possible on the piano if you have the required technique; that usually doesn’t come overnight. Technical skills come through technique development and this is a time-taking process.

    So, now you know the importance of technical skills and how it’s acquired, let’s talk about technique development before we proceed into learning about the major scale as a warm up mechanism for technique development.

    A Short Note On Technique Development

    Technique development is the advancement of a musician on his/her ability to play mechanically difficult ideas on his/her instrument with little or no effort.

    Attention: Mechanical difficulty comes naturally and can be overcome when you’ve developed agility, flexibility, independence, speed, strength, rotation, balance, fleetness, etc.

    The importance of technique development cannot be overemphasized and I’m sure that you don’t want a deficient technique to stop you from expressing your musical ideas.

    One of the worst things that can happen to a stage musician is to fall below par when it comes to technique. You may have beautiful ideas to express; but if your fingers are not able to express them almost immediately because of mechanical difficulty, the ideas will remain trapped in your head.

    So, every time you’re advancing your ability to play mechanically challenging, complex, difficult, and impossible songs on the piano, you’re undergoing technical development.

    The concept of technique development is broad and is beyond the subject of major scales.

    However, because there’s an aspect of technique development that comes through the diligent study of scales and devoted warm up using major scales, we have to talk about technique development.

    Benefits Of Using The Major Scale As A Warm Up Mechanism

    Although there are a variety of aspects of your dexterity that is positively affected when you have a warm up routine and you stick to it, we’ll be looking at a few of them that are very relevant and very beneficial.

    Let’s start with fingering.

    Benefit #1 – “The Development Of Proper Fingering”

    Playing the keyboard can be challenging when you have to learn everything in all twelve keys.

    In the key of C major:

    …it’s a little easier to play melodies and melodic lines and this is because all the notes are white. But as you move away from C major to other keys, you’ll find out that every other key is a combination of black and white notes.

    One of the things you may find challenging about playing in other keys is fingering and this deals with the placement of the fingers while playing the piano.

    Although there are so many possible fingerings, ranging from conventional to unconventional, there are classical finger placement that every keyboard player has to be very familiar with and this is because they make it easier for the keyboardist to play and reduces the mechanical difficulty to the barest minimum.

    Using the major scale as a warm-up mechanism would instill the proper fingering into you and you’ll be able to play complex things with effortless ease.

    Benefit #2 – “Finger Independence”

    If you try depressing an imaginary keyboard in the air with your middle finger, you’d notice that the ring finger would move involuntarily with the middle finger.

    Fingers are naturally dependent on each other and it doesn’t bode well with piano playing. The independence of the fingers is one of the techniques you’ll be benefiting from; if you make the major scale an integral part of your daily warm up routine.

    There are tons of exercises on finger independence. However, I highly recommend the Hanon Mastery Course for anyone who’s really interested in gaining finger independence.

    Final Words

    It is highly recommended that you warm up your fingers with the major scale in all the keys before you start practicing.

    There are tons of other short term and long term benefits that will take your technical skill to another level and improve your ability to play the piano if you can have a warm up routine and stick to it.

    In a subsequent lesson, we’ll be talking about the mastery of the number system using the major scale as a reference. But before then, endeavor to follow the suggested practice routine.

    Special thanks to Jermaine Griggs for the opportunity given to me to share this valuable information with you and don’t forget to share this lesson on all social media.

    All the best!

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.



    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 Richard Blocher

    I have been working this suggestion for over a month now, and I can really see, and feel the difference. I do all scales, in all 12 modes everyday. What I am working on currently, is I am trying to do this with out looking at my hands. I am truly Grateful to Germane Greggs for this wonderful music site, and for his unselfish sharing this information. With Respect, Richard Blocher, Carlisle, Pa.


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