We all know that most musicians don’t get amped up to practice scales. If you do, that’s great. For those of you who don’t find scales the most gratifying experience, we have a few fun ways that might change your mind. Ok, maybe not fun, but at least it won’t be like pulling your own teeth out.
- Perfect Timing Really want to improve your dexterity? Practice scales with a metronome or click track. The timing will help you play each note evenly, even as you reposition your fingers or hands on the instrument. Add some flavor by changing the time signature: Play scales in triplets, for example, or something unconventional like five-four.
- Moments of Pause Instead of trucking through scales nonstop, you can play a stop-and-go variation. Play three notes, then pause for a moment; play another three, then pause again; repeat. (During the pauses, position your hands so they’re ready for the next note.) It’ll feel more relaxed, but it also helps improve your physical technique.
- Scales à la mode Tired of bouncing around the Circle of Fifths? Break out of the major-minor rut and try some colorful modal scales. Pentatonic scales (including blues scales) are especially helpful for jazz and rock musicians who want to work on their soloing or improvisation. Up for a challenge? Try the chromatic scale, which has every single pitch.
- Interval Training Hey, keyboard and guitar players: Why not add a little harmony to your routine? Instead of practicing scales an octave apart, play them a third or a sixth apart. Not only will the harmonies sound cool, the change in hand position—sort of like brushing your teeth with your nondominant hand—is also an intense mental exercise.
- Attack and Release Remember, you’re making music—don’t be afraid to add a little style to each note. Connect notes for a smooth legato sound, or tap out staccato notes. String players can try mixing in different bowings like martelé and detaché. Brass and woodwind players can experiment with different breathing techniques to practice volume control and tone quality.
[Reprinted From: http://makingmusicmag.com]