The Music Corner for Piano Lovers

The Scale Game: A Fun Way to Practice Scales!

01 Sep 2014 News

Some weeks back, I came across a blog post that's inspired this week's post. The woman writing the blog had been asked to fill in for the pianist at her church. But much to her consternation, the hymns for the service were changed on the very day she was supposed to be playing. So, instead of playing the pieces she'd prepared, she found herself having to perform at sight a piece written in Db Major! Judging by the compliments she received after the service, she did quite well, but still the experience of having to sight read a piece with five flats was not entirely pleasant.

Now, playing scales, once you've mastered the fingering and the notes, is not particularly difficult. And it's fairly easy to remember which notes to play even if you don't use Solfege. That's because you play the notes in order, and after just a few days of practice, muscle memory sets in. We can all play the scale of Db Major quite easily. But playing a piece in Db Major is an entirely different issue.

Remembering which notes need to be raised or lowered even when you know the scale well can be difficult - more so when you're sight reading a piece. Compositions based on a scale used the notes of that scale in random order. One way to test how well you really know a scale is the scale game.

You can do this with any piece, but it's best to use a piece you know well enough to sing since your voice will help provide the rhythmic values of each note.  Convert the piece into scale degrees or into Solfege. I suggest scale degrees because it's easier designating the numbers 8, 9, 10, etc, to high Do, high Re, high Mi. Then using your notation in scale degrees, play the piece in any key you choose.

For instance, Silent Night begins on the So, the fifth note of the scale, goes up to La, the sixth note, back to So, and then to Mi, the 3rd note. So, in the scale of D Major, you'd start on A. Which note would you start on, if you wanted to use Db Major?

Silent Night is a particularly good piece to use for this purpose because the highest note in the piece goes all the way to high Fa. And it's such a familiar melody.

I'm assuming you have a book of Christmas Carols that includes the piece, but just in case you don't, I'll post up the melody in scale degrees in my next post:



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