Search results for: arpeggio

An Arpeggio Practice Plan

If you’re preparing your scales and arpeggios for an exam, or if you want to include some as part of your warm-up routine or technical regime, it is a good idea to be creative about how you’re going to tackle them day by day. Recently, I gave a practice plan for scales so I thought I would also give you a possible way to organise your arpeggio practice. Assuming you already know your arpeggios in all the inversions, and have overcome the basic technical difficulties, use this plan as a springboard for further creative ideas. Arpeggio Bouquet This is a useful process for self-testing, and it also helps develop mental flexibility and concentration. From a given note, generate as many different arpeggios as possible that use that note, and play all on one continuous loop without stops (the last note of each arpeggio becomes the first note of the next). For example, if we choose the note C, our loop will consist of the following different arpeggios (aim to change only one note at a time where possible, this won’t work as neatly as you go through the dominant 7ths). I suggest changing the note each day. Keep an eagle eye on fingerings: C major, root position C minor, root position A flat major, first inversion F minor, second inversion F major, second inversion A minor, first inversion Dominant 7th, key of F, root position Dominant 7th, key of D flat, first inversion Dominant 7th, key of B flat, second inversion Dominant 7th, key of G, third inversion Diminished 7th on C   Be creative with how you do this – you might vary the dynamics between one arpeggio and the next, play some half or […]

Managing Arpeggios

Scales and arpeggios are an important part of the developing pianist’s technical regime, especially for those who go through graded examinations. Having looked at scale playing in recent posts, I thought I would explore arpeggios a little. Arpeggio playing relies on similar technical skills to scale playing, only an arpeggio is more demanding for two main reasons: A scale is built up of eight notes per octave (counting the key note twice), the arpeggio four (for major or minor). Thus, arm and whole-body movements are twice as fast in an arpeggio. The greater distance the thumb has to cover compounds the difficulty – in a scale the distance from one thumb note to the next is a fourth or a fifth, in an arpeggio it is a whole octave. Unless the correct technical conditions are met precisely, an arpeggio is likely to be accident-prone and to feel awkward and precarious – like walking on ice. The Arm Looking at a beautifully controlled and choreographed arpeggio, we notice a smoothness and fluidity in the way both arms move across the keyboard, seamlessly connected together and describing a gentle curve. If the arpeggio is played continuously as though on a loop, the curve turns into a figure of eight (or the infinity symbol), all angles rounded out. My general advice for arpeggios is to hold the elbows slightly higher than in scale playing. There will be a bit more space under the arms, as though a current of air from beneath were lifting the arms up slightly so that they appear to float. The golden rule is never drop the elbow down onto the thumb!  The Thumb There are three main approaches to the thumb in arpeggio playing, all […]

Practising the Piano Part 3 – Scales and Arpeggios

It seems to me that a thorough knowledge of scales and arpeggios is an absolute necessity for all serious students of the piano. Western music is built on the major/minor tonal system, and to attempt to study the piano without scales (or basic theory) would be as nonsensical as learning language without the alphabet or without bothering with grammar. You would get so far, then reach a dead end. Scale work is an ongoing process from the relative beginning stages of piano study through to conservatory level and beyond. The professional pianist will have mastered all major and minor scales in single as well as double notes, plus an array of different types of arpeggios, in all inversions. The result will be an intimate kinesthetic knowledge of the keyboard (how a particular scale feels under the hand) and of all tonalities and key relationships, acquired and honed over the course of time. Whether we continue to practise scales in later life depends on the individual – the great virtuoso Shura Cherkassky apparently played scales and arpeggios in every key every day! Many of the world’s greatest pianists and teachers wouldn’t think of beginning their daily practice without a thorough regimen of scales and arpeggios (possibly along with other exercises and studies), and they expect their students to do the same. Practising the Piano Part 3 It can be difficult to summon up the necessary enthusiasm to practise scales unless they are presented in ways that are fun, rewarding and challenging. I think there needs to be additional resources available to encourage the student to practise scales in a disciplined and orderly fashion, and a system of logging the work from day to day. Self-testing is also an important […]

By |March 21st, 2014|eBooks|0 Comments

My New eBook on Scales and Arpeggios

I’m delighted to announce the launch of Part 3 of my eBook series, Practising the Piano. Part 3 is a single, bumper volume on scales and arpeggios starting with a guide to the basic skills required followed by chapters for the elementary, intermediate and advanced levels. As with my other eBooks, Part 3 features numerous video demonstrations, exercises written out in manuscript and practice suggestions.  It also features a number of resources and interactive tools to keep you motivated and to make your practising more effective: Scales index This section provides an index of all major, harmonic and melodic minor scales with key signatures, fingerings and variations for practice.  There is also a keyboard diagram of each scale so the beginner will be able to see the note patterns at a glance. Scales and arpeggios charts Download printable practice charts for ABRSM Grades 1 through to 8 featuring a grid layout with the keys listed vertically and the types of scales horizontally.  Teachers can use these to assign scales for practising in between lessons, and for students to keep a record of what they have practised. Scales and arpeggios generator Don’t you wish there was a way to test yourself on the scales and arpeggios for your grade?  Part 3 includes a scale generator that randomly selects these from the ABRSM syllabus for you.  It will keep you on your toes by requesting additional ways of doing them (different touches and speeds, and so on) and gives you an optional self-scoring mechanism for charting your progress. There are so many different and creative ways to practise your scales (have you ever tried the “Russian” way?).  Practising the Piano Part 3 shows you exactly how to practise […]

By |March 18th, 2014|eBooks|5 Comments

Intermediate Scales Manual Now on the Online Academy!

I have some good news for those of you practising your scales! I have just published the first part of my new scale manual aimed at intermediate players on the Online Academy.There are several scale manuals already available, but this manual is different in that it offers exercises and suggestions for practice, together with short, easy-to-use video demonstrations. It is my aim that these will be of practical help in the learning and practising process. Teachers will be able to assign specific exercises, and students will have a clearer focus in their day-to-day practice. Using the ABRSM Grade V syllabus as a guideline for this level I will be publishing the manual in stages, beginning with a practice worksheets for the group of scales built on C major fingering, and one example from some of the main groups for arpeggios. I will gradually add to these until the manual is complete. Why Scales? Scales and arpeggios have traditionally been examined as the technical requirements in piano exams from Grade 1 right through the conservatory level – and like it or not they are here to stay. The advanced pianist will have mastered all major and minor scales in single as well as double notes, plus an array of different types of arpeggios, in all inversions. The result will be an intimate kinesthetic knowledge of the keyboard (how a particular scale feels under the hand) and of all tonalities and key relationships, acquired and honed over the course of time. Whether we continue to practise scales in later life depends on the individual – the great virtuoso Shura Cherkassky apparently played scales and arpeggios in every key every day. In fact, many of the world’s greatest pianists wouldn’t […]

Online Academy – What’s Coming?

It’s been almost a year since the launch of the Online Academy in September 2016 and the site has grown to almost 200 articles and over 700 music excerpts, 150 videos and 100 downloads (a full index of series and articles can be viewed here). A big thank you to all our subscribers who have helped make this possible, your support is very much appreciated! What’s coming? We have many exciting updates in the pipeline for the year ahead which include extending existing resources, delving into specific topics in further detail and covering new topics. The following are some examples of what we’re currently working on and will be adding during the next year: Technique – We will be creating an extensive set of resources covering various components and areas of technique with a combination of text and video demonstrations using different camera angles and playback speeds to illustrate key points. A library of exercises categorised by level and tips on how to best utilise them will also be included. Practice Tools – The current series on Practice Tools will be extended and adapted for the elementary, intermediate and advanced levels. Scales – Following from the highly popular resources on elementary scales, we will shortly be adding a set of resources focussing on scales at the intermediate level. This will include exercises, downloads, video demonstrations and further information on alternative fingerings. Study Editions and Walkthroughs – The existing collection of Annotated Study Editions will grow to include popular works at varying levels by Mozart, Debussy, Rachmaninoff and Beethoven. We will also be adding walk-throughs and resources for a wide range of new works from across the repertoire. Examination Resources – Our existing resources for the […]

By |September 7th, 2017|General|0 Comments

Popular Posts and Articles

Graham is currently away and will be resuming his regular blog posts in September. In the meantime, if you’re looking for some holiday reading, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular blog posts and Online Academy series from the first half of this year. We’re also offering 40% off all eBooks in our store until 31/07 (please see further details below). Most popular blog posts But it Takes Me Ages to Learn a New Piece! Enjoying Ultra-Slow Practice On Practice versus Playing Through Developing Sight Reading Skills On Silence and Reflection in Practice Most popular Online Academy series The Basics of Playing Scales and ABRSM Grade 1 Scales & Broken Chords Burgmuller: 25 Easy and Progressive Etudes, Op. 100 CPE Bach – Solfeggietto in C Minor Technical Exercises and Regimes Read Ahead – Level 3 ***   ***   *** Practising the Piano eBook Series (Revised Editions!) There are surprisingly few books that deal with the art of practising. This multimedia eBook series contains hundreds of videos, audio clips, music examples and downloadable worksheets to show you exactly what need to do in order to get the most out of your practice time. Click here for more information. Practising the Piano Online Academy Building on my blog posts and eBook series, the Online Academy takes my work to the next level with a comprehensive library of lessons, masterclasses and resources combined with insights from other leading experts. Aimed at piano teachers and pianists, it will transform the way you approach playing or teaching the piano! A number of articles are available without registration and you can also register for free to view an additional five articles (no credit card required). Click here to find out more about the Online […]

Online Academy Survey – Your Feedback!

Thanks again to everyone who completed our recent Online Academy survey. The responses were overwhelmingly positive and therefore very encouraging. We’re also delighted with the detailed feedback we’ve received, all of which is invaluable to us for planning purposes. After reviewing the results in detail, here is a summary of some of the key findings. We also have some insights as to how we might accommodate these along with other suggestions in future. Audience & reasons for subscribing Although adult amateurs are the biggest subscriber group, each of the other groups also included a number of respondents thereby confirming that the Online Academy currently caters to a broad audience of musicians, amateurs and teaching professionals. Following from this, the main reason for subscribing is as a complement to lessons. Features & functionality Although not a surprise, browsing for content is the most commonly used feature, but is followed closely by the eBooks (these come bundled with the Premium subscription). Browsing by category and subcategory is also the most common way users are finding content although the various other methods (browse by author, search, text search etc.) are also well represented. Suggestions for improvement included: Improved navigation options including more indexing and cross referencing, categories and sub categories in the main menu and more features for personalising the home page. Making it easier to find new content including more frequent notifications (e.g. email updates) and some great suggestions regarding being able to “follow” authors and topics and view new content since your last login. Additional guidance on where to start with content e.g. a recommended approach or “lesson plan” for different profiles, levels and topics. Current & future content The most used content format is articles which combine […]

Are Scales Fun?

The very mention of the word scales to a piano student is likely to conjure up associations with something they know is necessary but somehow unpalatable, like eating spinach or a visit to the dentist.  I think it is actually possible to make scale practice fun, rewarding and challenging – provided it is presented in clear, step-by-step stages that students can easily follow by themselves in their daily practice between lessons. Scales and arpeggios have traditionally been examined as the so-called technical requirements in piano exams from Grade 1 right through the conservatory level – and like it or not, they are here to stay. The advanced pianist will have mastered all major and minor scales in single as well as double notes, plus an array of different types of arpeggios, in all inversions. The result will be an intimate kinesthetic knowledge of the keyboard (how a particular scale feels under the hand) and of all tonalities and key relationships, acquired and honed over the course of time. Whether we continue to practise scales in later life depends on the individual – the great virtuoso Shura Cherkassky wouldn’t think of beginning his daily practice without a thorough regimen of scales and arpeggios in all keys. Once learned, scales can be used as the starting point for all sorts of problem-solving exercises – if you are struggling to feel a polyrhythm in your piece, practise a scale up and down in that polyrhythm. If you want to refine a particular touch or for independence between the hands, use scales. Practice Worksheets In addition to walk-throughs and worksheets for the ABRSM exam pieces I decided to include some resources for scales in the Online Academy, since it is easy […]

Most Popular Posts and Articles

We hope all of our readers have had an enjoyable Festive Season and are being treated well by 2017 so far! We’re hard at work preparing new content and resources which will be announced next week. Until then, here’s a summary of popular posts and Online Academy articles from 2016: Blog posts: “But it Takes Me Ages to Learn a New Piece!” The Speed of No Mistakes Securing a Fast Passage Enjoying Ultra-Slow Practice No Stopping! Online Academy articles and resources: Walkthrough of Prelude and Fugue No. 2 in C Minor (1) Ergonomic Fingering for Scales and Arpeggios (1) The Art of Pedalling – The Sustaining Pedal (1 & 2) A Crash Course in Music Theory – Welcome! Technical Exercises and Regimes – Finger Exercises (3) Technical Exercises and Regimes – Introduction (1) Chopin Mazurkas – Walkthrough – Mazurka in A Minor, Op. 17, No. 4 Aria in F – Walkthrough Slow Practice – How and When to Use Slow Practice A Crash Course in Music Theory – Back to the 18th and the 17th centuries In addition to the above, the most popular videos on the Online Academy were the Sustaining Pedal and Lucinda Mackworth-Young’s Beginning to Improvise. A number of the Online Academy articles listed above are available without registration and you can also register for free to view an additional five articles (no credit card required). Click here to find out more about the Online Academy or click here to visit the site, view free content and to subscribe.

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