The importance of scales

By knowing your scales “you have learned 95% of 90% of the entire flute repertoire!”

Trevor Wye, Practice Book for the Flute Volume 5: Breathing and Scales; Novello

Sometimes scales become, for our students, something that they have to do in order to pass an exam. But actually they underpin all our repertoire, whatever instrument is played, and are a vitally important part of the learning process.

If you look through any piece of music, odds are that you will find a scale pattern, broken chord, arpeggio, chromatic scale – or something that is scale related. They are like the foundations when building a house, or the grammar in a book, to help it make sense.

Often students see the the repertoire they are playing and scales as separate entities. Or furthermore they are viewed as something necessary but unlikeable (like eating broccoli – personally I love broccoli!).

How do you help students see the connections or become friends with scales? I would love to hear your thoughts.

In my studio I try to make the learning process fun and have come up with some games and activities, including Spin The Wheel below. Every spin asks you to play your scale in different ways. Available on my website.

You might also like my scale learning story where students think of scales as friends or people with different characteristics.

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