"Oh Please No, Not Scales!!" - An inspirational perspective on scales for students of all
“Ugh, I don’t want to read about scales... they are soooo boring. I would rather practice ‘real music’ instead of scales.” If I got paid for everytime I've had a student express those sentiments, I might be able to retire today!
Unfortunately, a lot of students hold misconceptions about scales. I've listed a few below:
1. "A scale is just a pattern of notes. I'll never actually use them for anything."
Scales are so much more than just a sequence of pitches in a set pattern - they are the foundation of music. Learning them thoroughly allows you to recognize patterns in music that you wouldn't ordinarily notice right away, taking much of the hard work and uncertainty out of learning new music. Once the grunt work and unfamiliarity are gone, you'll have much more time to focus on other things while you practice. Such as having fun!
2. "But scales aren't fun."
Not true! If you think scales are boring, let me challenge you to consider this point of view: scales are only as boring as you allow them to be. No law of the musical universe exists stating that scales must always be practiced in a strict order or the exact same way each time. The more variety you add to your scale practice, the less predictable it will be, and your technique will be more solid. You can practice scales in intervals. My favorite intervals for practicing scales are 3rds and 6ths.
3. "But I'm really good at music, and scales are just too easy for me."
We will never be too advanced to practice our basics. If your scale practice feels boring, challenge yourself with harder variations of the scale. Try them with a combination of intervals, or a pattern within the regular scales pattern for a real brain workout! Once you have mastered all major and minor scales (and their arpeggios) and the chromatic scale, begin learning whole tone and octatonic scales.
CALL TO ACTION: What ways can you come up with, that will add variety, excitement, and challenge to practicing scales?