Why piano scales are important

by Bill on April 19, 2011

Piano scales often get a bad press. Repeated scale practice is often cited as a reason for quitting piano lessons among beginners. The simple fact is, though, that scales are incredibly important - it’s very difficult to become a really good pianist unless you master your scales and practise them pretty regularly.

The problem is that it’s very rarely explained to piano learners why scales matter so much. The video above covers my thinking about scales in a bit of detail, but here are some of the key points:

  • Knowing your piano scales helps you to function effectively in different keys. If you play your scales regularly, then a wide range of keys will fall under your fingers much more naturally than might otherwise be the case. It’s quite common for piano improvisers only to be able to play in a relatively small number of keys: knowing your scales helps you break out of that trap.
  • Scales give you balance and control at the piano keyboard, and improve coordination. You’ll find that if you play regularly you get better strength in your fingers, and greater finger independence.
  • If you’re going to play any classical piano, a knowledge of scales - and an ability to play them smoothly - is absolutely essential, simply because classical piano music contains so many scale runs and arpeggios and so many sections where you need very fine motor control in your fingers.

Leave a Comment