David Hicken ~ Pianist & Composer

Advice For Pianists

Scales are not simply technical exercises that pianists use to develop finger strength.  They are sets of notes that should be though of as "templates" which are used to compose music.

Even if you have no desire to compose music, you should be very familiar with all scales because they have been used to compose the music that you want to play.

Every piece of music is based on a particular scale.  If we say that a piece of music is in F major, this means that it uses mainly the notes of the F major scale.  If you are very familiar with the F major scale and all of its variations, then you will find your new piece in F major much easier to learn and play.  The more familiar you are with a particular scale, the less likely you will miss the sharps or flats that are in the key signature.

Scales help with many other aspects of piano playing too.  They will help you to use better fingering in all of the pieces you learn, as well as develop a better hand position.  They will strengthen your fingers and allow better agility.  If you get louder going up and softer going down when playing scales, you will have much better control of dynamics in your music.

Beginning pianists don't realize that the hammers inside a piano are bigger on the left and smaller on the right.  Constant scale practice helps to ensure smooth transitions from one area of the piano to another, even though the keys become slightly heavier or lighter.

Knowledge of scales leads to a better understanding of harmony, because chords are built from scales.  If you know why the seventh note is always raised one half step in the harmonic minor scale, you will have a clearer idea as to why you may want to raise that note in your compositions as well.

Effort is required to learn scales, and I will admit that they can be boring, however once they're mastered, they can be fun to play.

I play scales every single day and I never miss.  To play all of my scales takes about an hour and a half (and I play them very fast).  I'm not willing to invest that much time every day, so I break it down into 30 minutes each day.  It takes three days to complete the cycle.

I am currently working on a new book which details exactly how I work on my scales, which will be available shortly.  If you are interested in receiving updates about the book, make sure to subscribe on my website.

I'm proud of my piano technique, which I attribute solely to my scale work.  Studies by Czerny, Hanon, Burgmüller etc., have some use, but in my opinion, you only need scales.

Anyone who tells you that scales are not necessary is either lying or doesn't have a clue what they're talking about.

To be a great pianist, you must not be lazy.  There are no shortcuts.  Scales have been used by the greatest composers and performers for hundreds of years, so I can assure you that you need them too.

Happy practicing!!

David Hicken

All of the concepts that I write about here are detailed in my eBook "Secrets To Better Piano Playing" .  Click the image below to find out more.



2016-07-28 14:36:13 - Constance Shirk
Just a note to say thank you. I ordered your book above and several sheet music compositions just now and am so excited to get started. I found you on you tube and am so inspired by your playing and composing. Thank God I found you today, because I needed this inspiration very much. Love your playing more than I can say here. Gratefully, Connie