Why You Want To Learn Scales! By Donna Harris © 2022


Why should you want to learn scales? We have all heard of scales, but why learn them? Scales are a series of sounds often side by side that follow a formula up then down the keyboard.


The word Scale comes from scala, Latin for ladder. Like ladders, scales consist of steps. Musically, steps are each sound in a scale.


There are many kinds of scales, so they serve various purposes.


Here’s some for starters:

Warm Up For Piano Practice

1. Scales are great for warming up


They are easy, which is partly why some underestimate them. Just like when we exercise, when we practise we need to be kind to our body by warming up. So, ease into practice by starting slowly with scales.


Scales: Learn Major and Minor

2. Scales help us learn major and minor


Learning major and minor keys and mixing those sounds helps us express many moods and feelings in music. Scales break down major and minor so our ears examine and digest each. We can then recognise them in the music we play. As a result,

Woman Composing

3. Scales facilitate improvising or composing


This is a fun reason for learning scales! Composers and song writers have used scales in their music. For example, David Bowie uses the E minor scale in the bass of the chorus of John, I’m Only Dancing, and the C Major scale in the bass line for the chorus in Changes. 


Most people feel the best part of the former song is the part that uses a scale! Amazing, right? In other words, scales can help us create our own music. Can you see how scales become fun to use? They get us ready for the music we want to play or create!


Scales And Fingering

4. scales Teach Good Technique


Scales help us learn how to travel around the keyboard smoothly and safely. To learn scales, we are often instructed to use specific fingers. Doing so actually makes it easier to play the scale. 


When we are instructed to use the 1 or the 2 to start a scale, for instance, that refers to the finger we should use. The presence of these numbers is called Fingering


The fingering used in scales prepares you for finger patterns used in music you long to play. Therefore, scales set you up for success whatever your level.


Scales And Different Keys

5. Scales help us learn different keys


We don’t just learn to play in C Major or C minor. We need to learn the other keys too, so that our music has different colours.


Scales introduce pitch, the highness or lowness of musical sound. Each step is an instance of pitch. Musical pitches have letter names that are the first seven letters of the alphabet: A, B, C, D, E, F, & G. Scales help us learn them. 


They also help us realise what key our favourite songs or music is in so we can learn to play them with some ease. We may refer to music as being in the key of  F. The easiest way to figure out what key a song or piece of music is in is to learn your key signatures. 


If you are learning scales, you automatically learn key signatures. You therefore know what sharps or flats you need, if any, for the scale’s formula. Knowing what black keys (sharps or flats) are needed makes it easier to play music as this awareness helps you know what to expect when first approaching a piece. 


Seeing is believing and that’s the case with appreciating scales. To get the best understanding of what you just read, you need hands-on experience with a musical instrument.


I am sure, as your piano teacher, I can help you appreciate and see the benefit of scales as preparation for playing the music you love! So, get in touch via the red button.