Piano Scales are Your Friends!

Improve your playing and musicianship by practicing your piano scales

As a beginning piano player, you may be excited to start learning and memorizing new tunes as soon as possible, but first things first. Your piano teacher may have assigned you scales and told you to practice them every day. Boring, you say? Tedious? Not worth the time and hassle? Think again. Practicing your piano scales religiously will make you a better player, and you can have fun doing it!


What do Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, and Vladimir Horowitz all have in common? Each is known for being one of the greatest in their field; each practiced the basics of their craft every single day. Imagine Jordan hitting the courts without having spent hours and hours just making baskets and dribbling the ball. He is known for his absolute dedication to practice, practice, practice. In fact, he once said, “I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come.”

Serena and her sister, Venus, are known as two of the most incredible tennis players ever to grace the courts. On practicing the basics, Serena says, “Luck has nothing to do with it, because I have spent many, many hours, countless hours, on the court working for my one moment in time, not knowing when it would come.”

Horowitz is no longer with us, but he is still reveled as a piano god. While everything seemed to come naturally to him, he spent hours and hours practicing and making each piece he played his own. Imagine how much practice went behind the playing of a man who said, “I am a general. My soldiers are the keys and I have to command them.”

Practicing your scales is the only way you will become the commander of your keys.

Practicing your piano scales

Piano scales


The musical scales are literally the foundation for everything you will ever play. Knowing them greatly improves your understanding of music itself and how it is put together. Your piano instructor will most likely begin by teaching you the 12 major and 36 minor scales. It may sound daunting, but if you practice each one until it becomes rote, the rest will get easier and easier.

As you get each of these scales into your brain, you will develop some muscle memory and find that your fingers almost work on their own. Most likely, you’ll begin with one hand and add the other, playing at octaves, until your hands are no longer at odds with each other and can work in harmony (pun intended).

Your piano instructor will teach you fingering groups that will greatly help when practicing the most difficult scales. When tangling with sharps and flats, an excellent way to bolster your memory is to utilize the Circle of Fifths.
If all of this sounds foreign to you now, don’t worry. Keep practicing and you’ll soon find that you’ve learned more than you ever thought possible.

Fingers that Fly!

Not only will you know your keyboard better than ever, you will find that you have improved dexterity and flexibility. Much like typing, your speed and accuracy will improve as you practice. Soon, you will not have to take your eyes of the music because you will know exactly where to place your hands on the keyboard without even a glance. This means that your sight reading will be snap, too.

Sight Reading

Your knowledge and familiarity of scales will enable you to open any sheet music and sight read it without complications. Why? Besides simply knowing your keyboard, you will easily recognize the patterns in musical pieces and you won’t even have to think about key changes because they’ll be ingrained in your memory. This makes you an extremely valuable piano player. It also makes you a huge hit at parties.

Add Some Fun!

Scales are anything but boring, if you do them correctly. At first, they’ll be challenging. Soon, they’ll be easier, then, finally, they can just be fun.

If you’ve never seen Liberace play “Chopsticks” – drop everything and watch it now. Imagine taking such a simple, two-fingered song and making it into an entire symphony! With an intimate knowledge of your scales, you can do just that. Don’t think for a minute that this man never practiced his scales. He spent hours warming up with them every day and before every performance. Practice yours every single day, and we’ll be seeing you at Carnegie Hall.