Why should I learn scales on the Piano?
One of my least favorite parts about learning to play the piano, was having to learn all of the scales. I wanted to just jump right in and start playing all the popular songs. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way, and if you ever want to really be any good, you will need to learn the fundamentals first. It would be like trying to learn the English language without ever learning the alphabet. If you put in the time and effort it will pay huge dividends in the future. Below are some helpful hints that I used to learn the scales when I first started.
However much time you plan on practicing the piano, you need to have a schedule on what you will be doing at that time. Otherwise you will find yourself playing the same couple of songs you know over and over without much progress on learning new techniques. If you have 60 minutes to practice for the day, I would dedicate the first 15 minutes towards scales, 15 minutes playing your favorite songs, 15 minutes learning new songs, and maybe 15 minutes reading sheet music. You can break it up however you want, but the main thing is to be trying different things and expanding your skill set.
There is an old saying, “practice makes perfect”. This couldn’t be any truer for piano. The mind is a very powerful tool, and with enough repetition it can duplicate just about any task without much effort. Think about it, when you brush your teeth in the morning, you don’t concentrate on moving the toothbrush and your arm. You have done this task so many times before, that your body just goes on autopilot and does it without much effort. If you practice the scales enough, your body will be able to play them without having to think what the next note is. This will become very handy when you are playing, and your hands automatically play the next note without having to stop and think.
There are two main ways to practice playing the scales. Both are very important: one involves memorizing all the scales and practicing them from memory, and the other involves reading it off of sheet music and playing it at the same time. Most people will memorize and play from memory, but a great way to work on your sight reading of sheet music is to play the scales while reading them out of a chord exercise book. This will get you very familiar with how each note corresponds to the staff, and help you get comfortable reading sharps and flats. Also it can take some time to memorize all the major and minor chord variations. So this will allow you to get some much needed repetition in the meantime.
Now, I can tell you from experience that playing the scales are not exactly fun, but they are crucial in building a strong foundation for learning piano. Take the time and learn the basics, and it will help you immensely in your journey. After a little hard work learning the scales, you will be off playing your favorite songs in no time!