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Nov. 7, 2021

Practicing Scales: What, Why, How

Practicing Scales: What, Why, How

Greetings JazzPianoSkills Fam!

Last week I celebrated the 100th episode of the JazzPianoSkills Podcast which is hard for me to believe because it feels as if it was yesterday I was sitting in my office recording episode one; it's crazy how fast time passes. I want to thank everyone for all of the kind wishes I received throughout this past week. Your messages, once again reminded me that the greatest thing about music is indeed the people you meet through it. So this week I thought I would kick off the next 100 episodes by revisiting the very first episode, which explored practicing scales correctly, to expand upon it and provide some additional insight as to why scale practice is so vitally important.

I stressed early on in the podcast eposidoe that when you practice scales correctly (which of course is determined by your conceptual understanding of scales) you will be improving many facets of your jazz piano playing - technique, ear training, melodic development (improvisation), time, articulation, and sound (to name just a few!). I also stressed that the key to reaping the benefits from practicing scales correctly depends upon your ability to clearly define the What, Why, and How of your scale practice. In other words, the What, Why, and How determine the scales you practice, the objectives you are wanting to achieve, and the approaches you use.  Bottom line, if you do not answer the What, Why, and How questions before you sit down to practice scales you will end up reducing your scale practice down to a mindless muscle memory exercise. Not good!

I presented nine scale exercises to help you become a better jazz pianist. Each exercise focused on one of the four objectives:

  • Technique Agility
  • Aural Skills (Ear Training)
  • Melodic Motifs (Improvisation Prep)
  • TIme Development

Likewise, each objective required us to use a specific practice approach:

  • Family Groupings
  • Intervallic Relationships (3rds and 4ths)
  • TIme Development (Quartet, 8ths, 16ths)
  • Improvisation (Triad Shapes)
  • Melodic Range (7th, 9th, 11th, 13th)

The entire podcast focused on illuminating the importance of knowing the What, Why, and How of Scale Practice so that you truly maximize your musical growth. Scale study and practice, when done correctly, will improve every facet of your jazz piano skills.

If you have not listened to the Practicing Scales, What, Why, How Episode then I would encourage you to do so. If you are a JazzPianoSkills Member be sure to use the Podcast Packets (IllustrationsLead Sheets, and Play Alongs) for each of the episodes to help you maximize your musical growth.

Thanks for being a JazzPianoSkills Member. It is my pleasure to help you discoverlearn, and play jazz piano!

Warm Regards,
Dr. Bob Lawrence
JazzPianoSkills