First, let’s start with a warm up.
You may think that limbering up is reserved for professional athletes, but it’s equally important for us musicians too. Your body takes time to get in the right mode, so performing scales will help warm up your joints and muscles, and help extend your range of motion.
If you jump into playing a lesson which requires a full range of motion without first warming up, you risk hurting yourself. It’ll also be harder to play and get your fingers moving in time – especially on a cold day!
At the start of each practice session, open up Melodics and select Keys as your instrument. In the Explore screen, you’ll find the Scales & Chords tab right in between Lessons and Courses. Filter by scales, chords, key, exercise, etc.
Load up a couple of scales and spend 5 minutes running through them. Combine this with some stretches, a cup of tea or whatever relaxes you. You’ll minimise any potential risk of injury, and feel more ready to take on that lesson.
Get those long-term benefits.
Performing scales can have amazing long-term effects too. For this to happen, you need to make it a regular habit. By performing scales every day, you’ll build up strength and dexterity, all while perfecting your technique and improving your speed.
Strength and dexterity
Your body is made up of fast and slow muscle fibres. Your fast muscles are used for speed and control, but get fatigued quickly. Your slow muscles are there for overall strength and endurance. Playing scale will build on both of these muscle groups, ultimately allowing you to play harder, better, faster, and stronger.
Perfect your technique
It’s not all about pure strength, though. Performing scales is also a great opportunity to work on your technique. Instead of focusing on the musicality of a piece, instead you can focus on keeping your hand in the right shape and your arms in the right position. Keep doing this, and eventually it will become second nature.
Make sure you’re doing it right.
Scales will help improve your strength and technique, but only if you perform them correctly. Focus on correct technique while performing scales – be careful not to develop bad habits from the beginning.
Start out slow
Make sure you’re comfortable playing a scale before speeding it up. If you start out too quickly, you risk developing bad habits which will later affect your playing. Focus on your technique first, and speed will come later.
Mix it up
Try playing a mix of different scales to make sure you work on every range of motion. Human bodies like to get complacent, so performing the same scale over and over may not actually be beneficial in the long run. Keep throwing new challenges at your body to keep it fresh.
Use both hands
Most people will find their dominant hand stronger and more cooperative than the other. This is fine, you’ll just need to work on your other hand to bring it up to speed. It’s a good idea to work on your hands separately – there’s no point forcing your left hand to do something it can’t just because your right hand can!
Rest and repeat
Improvement is gained through repetition, but don’t over do it! A little bit of practice every day is better than marathon sessions once a week. If you’re feeling fatigued or sore, take a rest. No one wants an injury!
Play some tunes.
Scales are great, but don’t forget to play some tunes! It’s quite easy to get into a robotic trance while playing scales, but the whole point of them is to make you better at playing actual music.
Keep working on scales and next time you load up a lesson, use your new-found technique and fluency and combine that with some musicality.