5 Key Points for How to Practice Piano Scale Technique

by Lars Nelissen  - July 10, 2023

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Learn to PlayPiano Scales FAST and BRILLIANT

How to practice piano scales?

Learn how to play piano scales fast and brilliantly. In this VIDEO POST, I show how to achieve SPEED and CLARITY in piano scales. There are several elements that play a vital role in learning to play piano scales.

Don't forget to DOWNLOAD the score with some of my special preparatory piano exercises.

Introduction Piano Scale Technique

Playing the piano can be an enriching experience, but it also comes with challenges to overcome. One of those challenges that many pianists face is mastering scales. In this video post, we will explore some invaluable techniques to make your piano scale playing smoother, faster, and easier, contributing to improved piano technique. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced pianist, these insights can help improve your skills.

Here, I present to you five elements to consider when working on piano scales. These elements can also help you to improve your piano technique when working on any piano passages.

Steps towards Masterful Piano Scales


The Role of the Thumb for Improved Piano Technique

As you start to learn to play scales at the piano, you'll quickly notice a difference in difficulty between ascending and descending scales. This is because of the role the thumb plays in these variations. Moving the thumb beneath the hand is harder to do smoothly than moving the hand over the thumb. This fact holds true even more when playing at faster tempos. However, it's essential to maintain a consistent hand position, avoiding excessive hand turns.


Micro-Adjustments for Better Scales and Piano Technique

To navigate black keys effectively, you'll need to make subtle micro-adjustments. These adjustments involve not just the wrists and forearm but also the overall form (shape) of your hand. Practicing with black keys will help you become more comfortable with these keys, making your playing smoother and contributing to improved piano technique.


Finger Speed and Finger Relaxation for Better Piano Technique

Practice scales both slow and fast to develop finger agility and control. Focus on finger speed, not so much on power, especially in fast passages. Work slowly and between each note, incorporating moments of relaxation to isolate each finger in its action. This practice will make your fingers more independent, faster, and more powerful and thus improve your piano technique.


Maintaining Synchronisation in Piano Scales

Synchronisation is essential to mastering piano scales with both hands together. Try playing scales from octave to octave to ensure both hands work together seamlessly. In between each octave, you make a relaxation moment to prepare the next octave group. This practicing technique we call working in divisions will help you maintain evenness and precision in your scale technique, contributing to improved piano scale technique.


Using the Forearms for Improved Piano Scale Technique

When playing scales, a thrust or pull comes from a forearm movement. When descending scales, move your hand to the outside while keeping the arm in an upward position at the start and glide down smoothly to the finishing note. This motion resembles the graceful bowing movement on a cello, adding elegance and ease to your piano playing and minimising wrist strain, contributing to improved piano scale technique.

Franz Liszt had a great piano scale technique

Franz Liszt showing off his piano technique - Caricature

Next Step: Exploring Etudes for Improved Piano Scale Technique

Here I present another VIDEO POST in which I will discuss which etudes can be incredibly beneficial for practicing piano scales. These piano scale etudes provide structured practice pieces that focus on one particular piano technique to further enhance your scale-playing skills at the piano, contributing to improved piano scale technique.


Mastering piano scales is a challenging but essential part of learning the piano that directly affects how you can improve your piano technique. As you implement these techniques and tips, you'll notice improvements in finger agility, hand dexterity, arm technique, and overall playing skills.

Remember, improving your piano technique and developing faster, more powerful, and precise fingers is not just about repetition and more repetition but more about strategy and the way you practice. Only when that is correct does repetition make sense. Only then will dedication and consistent practice lead to improving your piano skills.

For you who are looking to improve your piano technique further, consider exploring my book of exercises, "Super Fingers Essential Piano Technique." Piano Fantasy also offers online courses to improve your piano playing. DOWNLOAD free score.

Watch here the Video on how to practice piano scale technique
► Read Video Script You'll notice, that in playing the scales in the right hand, up is more difficult than down. And in the left hand up is easier and down is more difficult. This has to do with the passing through of the thumb. The passing beneath is more... a little bit more difficult then going over. See! Here going over with going back. And that's far easier. It's almost like rolling down like a waterfall... When we're going fast with scales. Let's take G major. The hand goes a little bit to the outside, the thumb goes underneath, but we're not going to turn the hand like this anymore. We don't do this. This we don't do. The hand stays in one position. See and when we go more up the right-hand goes more outward. See like this... I'm gonna go more to the middle see how I change the position. It's a little micro-adjustment. And black keys also need little micro-adjustments. In the... not necessarily in the wrist, just a little bit in the wrist, but also the shape of the hand. So good way to practice with black keys is... to make this kind of exercises. To mold your hand around the black key. You also notice that I raise my fingers. When I want passages be clear, I will raise my fingers I will articulate. My finger prepares for the next one. Opens like an umbrella, my hand. This is a very good way to create good articulation. And when I practice, I can practice slow. Open the hand and then fast attack of the key. And speed is more important than power here. And between each note is a little relaxation in the muscles. So you isolate each finger like that. [Music] Without power, but speed, supple wrist. The wrists are always free and supple. And... you should feel it in the lower arm. And then there are two ways I practice myself scales, when I practice them, and that is like this... Let's take B major! See, real fingers, active fingers, No arm yet. And a little bit faster! That's one way. And then I like to practice them light, and from octave to octave. To speed up, you try to keep synchronised left and right. When the scales go down, hand to the outside, as we've done before, and the arm in a more up-position. And then like like a bow, like when you're playing the cello. Almost like that kind of movement. In another video I will talk about etudes that are very good for practicing scales. It's nice to put them into practice. If you like this video give me a thumbs up so that YouTube knows that this was good content! And will recommend it to other people like you, so that they can also have benefit from it. If you didn't already subscribe, hit the Subscribe Button and the Bell! So that you will be also notified when new videos come up. If you like to increase your piano technique, and bring your playing to the next level: to have a nicer sound, to have faster and more brilliant fingers. Then I'll recommend checking out my book with exercises: "Super Fingers Essential Piano Technique". The link is in the description. So check it out! And see you in the next video!


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