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Why practise scales and arpeggios on piano

Scales and arpeggios form an important part of the skill of playing the piano or keyboard. People do try and play without learning them, but they come up against serious limitations eventually. Here are some of the reasons why they help us progress ...

Tonal evenness
Scales help to you achieve tonal evenness with each finger when playing piano or keyboard- that is to play many notes of equal loudness and quality played successively.

Rhythmic evenness
They help you to achieve rhythmic evenness with each finger in your piano practice - that is to play many notes of equal length played successively.

Legato notes
Scales and arpeggios help you to join all the notes in your piano music. The idea is to have no gaps between them.

Staccato notes
Scales and arpeggios help you to play detached notes on the piano - that is to put deliberate gaps between the notes

Action of fingers, thumbs and hand
If you have a good hand-position, this helps you to achieve a good finger action by squeezing the piano note firmly with a circular action from the knuckle. The fingers help you to perfect the passage of the thumb or the movement of the hand over the thumb - vital to good piano technique and progress. The fingers help you to perfect the lateral movement of the hand when putting the thumb under.

Shape of music
The fingers help you to play piano melodies with shape - getting gradually louder or softer over a number of notes

Keys in music
The fingers help you to be more aware of the piano keys and key signatures, that is the number of sharps or flats in a piece of music.

Music reading
The fingers help you to sight-read your piano music, the first reading of a piece of music, because you can recognise bits of scale and arpeggio patterns in the music.

Memory and music
The fingers help you to memorise piano music because scale and arpeggio patterns are easily recognisable and committed to memory.

Building up your confidence as a piano player
Scales and arpeggios generally help your confidence and piano-technique and therefore your progress by improving your technique on the piano or keyboard. This then enables you to devote more thought and energy to playing expressively. As these reoccur in thousands of pieces of music, scales and arpeggios help you to learn music more thoroughly and quickly.
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