My ever-growing stash is stored in my piano bench. I recently added a new tool which will be implemented again and again as mastering scale finger is always a priority but never easy. First, I make sure pianists learn how to construct a scale with whole and half steps (ex: major scale = half steps between scale degrees 3 and 4 and 7 and 8). Thanks to the aid of Susan Paradis printables and nifty idea using erasers, this concept is grasped with ease. All students not only learn the major scale “code” (34-78) but I require it to be encoded in their memory bank –comparable to their zip code.
After the pianist is familiar with these numbers, I encourage them to decipher a fingering plan for a scale beginning with the RH thumb and ending with the RH pinky (until the trickier black key scales come along!). Inevitably, the fingering is uncovered, of course with some gentle, sometimes generous, nudging from the teacher. Once the right hand fingering is discovered, the left hand seems to fall in place more easily. Many times it can be taught playing hands together in contrary motion. However, it is not easily memorized.
As you know, the trick about playing scales is not only mastering/memorizing the finger patterns, but playing hands together in parallel motion. Back to the newly acquired tools I mentioned early. Easy Scales Visual Guides offer the perfect solution. This sleekly packaged set of 20 cards features a template for every major, harmonic and melodic scale. Setting a card or guide behind the black keys by the fall board lines up the correct finger with the correct key on your piano. The color-coded cards provide large-sized finger number for the RH in blue and LH in red with no need for conventional notation. Limiting the visual information to keys and finger numbers seems to be just the concrete information to help scale enthusiasts grab on to the fingering for good.
The pictures demonstrate how to use them much better than I can explain it. What I can tell you with certainty is that my students have found these incredibly helpful as they master scale fingering as they see how third fingers line up together, etc.
Wait! Just had a thought–you could also use the EasyScale templates combined with the “W” and “H” cards and erasers pictured above for some fun off-the-bench activities. Oooh, I’ll need to include that in my next group lesson agenda!
If you are interested in adding this tool to your treasure chest (or piano bench), you can order them from Jo Tee, the creator of these incredibly simple but effective visual guides. She lives in Singapore–apparently scale fingering is a global issue. Check out the creative ways she suggests using the templates on her facebook page.
I’m always seeking and thankful for tools that serve a purpose effectively. Weighing the benefits, the design, the potential and the price tag, my “scale” tips in favor of employing EasyScales again and again.
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