This is both for learning a scale for the first time and for a scale you’ve been working on for years.
Listen to yourself.
Play the trickier speeds with different articulations. This also will improve your tonguing, especially with the faster speeds.
Breathe as much as you need to, and experiment with breathing – things like try using all your air in 8 beats, or 12.
Vary the volume, not only between runs but also between notes. For example, one way to build up breath control and embouchure is doing whole notes and then crescendo for one whole note and decrescendo for the next whole note. Make it as smooth as possible, and with consistently good tone.
Rhythms – use for difficult passages in general to increase finger control and speed. Start slow, speed up the quarter note as you improve. Practice with different articulations.
And for your convenience, a printable version! Use it well. – C Major rhythms
Hey, so just a reminder that you are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to email me a suggestion for what you’d like me to write about on here. Or use the contact page on this website.
General advice, based on what I saw at school on Friday.
About learning new pieces:
Again, this is all general advice coming from a brief glimpse of you all. Please ask whatever questions you have.
Here’s a link to teoria.com, where you can practice identifying intervals, key signatures, scales, chords and other things.
I’ll be hosting music theory / general music classes on Mondays in June and July starting on June 15th. I’ll see if I have schedule conflicts or can add more weeks or days if it’s wanted. Though there will be a overarching lesson plan, the whole point is to teach you what you don’t know, so if you miss a week then I’ll do my best to find a way to catch you up. You’ll learn more based on how often you attend, though.
Please send me a message at least the day before if you’re planning on showing up.
Dates: 6/15, 6/22, 6/29, 7/6, 7/13, 7/20, 7/27
Time: Starting at 11 AM. Bring lunch if you need it, or money if you want to go to the restaurants around here, since that is around lunchtime.
Location: My house, which is very close to school. Send me an email for the address.
Materials: Bring paper, pencil, and your instrument. I’d suggest either a binder or notebook to put the paper in, but it’s up to you.
The key signature is the number of sharps or flats in a key. Why should you know them? Well, uh, it’s kind of impossible to know a scale without knowing what notes to play, and knowing the key signature basically means you know what notes to play. Why should you know scales? Because scales appear all over in music, and because your technique will improve as a nice side effect.
Next, you’ll definitely need to memorize these three:
C Major has no sharps and no flats
G Major has 1 sharp
F Major has 1 flat
After this, there are two ways of going about it. So, when I was a little kid I memorized all of them, through trial and error and just being asked about them so many times that I finally remembered which one was which. I’m pretty sure if you put some effort into it, they shouldn’t be very difficult to memorize. I think it’s more difficult to remember which rule to use (subtract two sharps, add a flat) and then to take the time and use it, but if that’s what helps you remember, go right ahead. Honestly, the two methods aren’t that different if you can rattle off the order of sharps and flats super quickly, so I’d suggest spending time on getting the orders down.
Here’s a chart to help you, from the Piano Keyboard Guide
If you want the tricks, here they are. For sharps, you count up until you reach the letter you’re searching for, and then you subtract two. For example, what’s the key signature of A Major? F C G D A – okay, that’s the letter we’re searching for, and we’re at 5 sharps. Now, subtract two ~ 5 minus 2 is three, so A Major has three sharps, F# C# and G#.
For flats, you count up until you reach the letter you’re searching for and then add one. So, what’s the key signature of Db Major? B E A D – okay, that’s 4 flats. Now all one ~ 4 plus 1 is five, so Db Major has five flats, Bb Eb Ab Db and Gb.
Another suggestion: I’d say it’s more important to know the key signatures that come up the most. Usually, that means the key signatures with fewer sharps or flats. So I’d say to make sure you know which keys have two or three sharps or flats, and then work on remembering the rest of them.
Ways to learn them: Write them down! Find some manuscript paper, like, say from this site, and copy them over. Test yourself. There are also sites on the internet, like teoria.com, that have exercises like this one: http://www.teoria.com/en/exercises/ksi.php
I know this is kinda me saying you’ve just got to trust me, and I haven’t explained yet why scales work this way or anything. I’ll get to it soon, I promise. But even when you know how to construct a scale yourself, being able to call up the key signature from memory is a useful time-saving tool.