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I Hate Playing Scales!

randulo

playing 2 years
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It's been a few days since one of my pseudo-intellectual posts, so I thought I'd get into something funny that happened today regarding scales, which a friend of mine defined as "a way up and a way down". I'm sure I've mentioned before that I have a limited number of years to get to where I'd like to be. I don't want to spend them playing scales or exercises. Be this as it may, once in a while, I fire up a few and go through the 12 fingerings, or a few random "finger busters" from Eric Marienthal's course. For the past few days, I've been composing, recording, and messing with various tunes, no work that wasn't melodic or rhythmic. That includes the silly version of Frosty I posted earlier. Just now, end of day, I figured, what the heck, I'll do an exercise, just for fun. I was surprised to find I played the exercise much better than I did before, even though I had not practiced it. Apparently, this means...

It's all good!

Playing for hours at a time, day after day somehow eventually gets through to whatever makes things better. It is my firm belief that the most important thing I can do is learn what note comes out of what fingering in relation to the previous note played. My goal is to be able to "play what I hear". And I've got to admit, it's getting better (Cue Beatles song).
 

spike

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Keep at it Randy, yer doing great. Stay positive.
Once you've got all the scale exercises down from anybody and everybody start doing your own.
The only negative that I can think of is - it's a never ending story.
So bearing that in mind - every day is a new day and every note is a new one.
Rock on ;)
 

Halfers

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It doesn't even have to be hours and hours a day. There's a compound interest thing going on even if it's five or 10 minutes here and there. The magic of learning.
 

GCinCT

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It's so rewarding when all those hours start to pay off. I really enjoyed your Frosty, Randy and I am very impressed with your progress. Keep going!
 
OP
randulo

randulo

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It's so rewarding when all those hours start to pay off. I really enjoyed your Frosty, Randy and I am very impressed with your progress. Keep going!
Thanks, I appreciate positive reinforcement! My reticence to play scales is part of the search for something new. I do practice things, but they are mostly to do with wide intervals and symmetrical patterns of my own devising. But the initial post was trying to say how I find it odd that after working for literally weeks without playing an exercise of any kind, when I did play it, it was more fluid, better than before. Some kind of osmosis takes place and it's kind of exciting. As with all the years when I played guitar, the most fulfilling moments are not when I hear something and think, "I played that!", but when I can think, "Where did that come from?". I think the answer is in all those hours of work and listening, analysing.
 

Greg Strange

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Yesterday I spent two hours playing scales on the flute...Major, Major Pentatonic, Lydian, Lydian Augmented, Natural Minor, Harmonic Minor, Melodic Minor, Dorian, Minor Pentatonic, Blues, and about another 30 per key - it might be frustrating but keeps the mind active (apparently!)...and the day before that was the trumpet...:w00t:

Keep it up - the more you practice the better you get (apparently!)

Greg S.
 
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randulo

randulo

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Yesterday I spent two hours playing scales on the flute..
Are you new to it or don't play it much? Or is that "maintenance", which I totally understand. When I speak of what I do, it only applies to my own goals. I definitely see why some need to practice certain things, and of course, as I said I do practice. Just mostly not scales. I think, too, if you intend to play with/for other people in a professional situation not dictated entirely by you, you need to be good at all those things!
 

GCinCT

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But the initial post was trying to say how I find it odd that after working for literally weeks without playing an exercise of any kind, when I did play it, it was more fluid, better than before.
I have experienced that myself. It just shows there is more then once way to develop fluency. Since the end of August, I have spent a good chunk of my practice time on the charts my Big Band is playing (concert Thursday night). I noticed that my overall technique has improved, the result one would expect from playing exercises.

As with all the years when I played guitar, the most fulfilling moments are not when I hear something and think, "I played that!", but when I can think, "Where did that come from?".
I know that feeling too. Listening to a recording and hearing an interesting line that you don't even remember playing and have no idea where it came from. There is some magic in improvisation. Those moments make it all worthwhile.
 
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randulo

randulo

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We're on the same page! I also didn't mention, but hopefully it's obvious, of course I learned and practiced scales the first few months. And I still take the occasional spin on chromatic for bottom to top. I also played the altissimo notes from G to D with certain reeds today, but not reliably.
 

Ivan

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We're on the same page! I also didn't mention, but hopefully it's obvious, of course I learned and practiced scales the first few months. And I still take the occasional spin on chromatic for bottom to top. I also played the altissimo notes from G to D with certain reeds today, but not reliably.
But there's playing scales and there's playing scales

What about all the good the comes from controlling the dynamics, the tonguing, speed etc.?
 
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randulo

randulo

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But there's playing scales and there's playing scales
What about all the good the comes from controlling the dynamics, the tonguing, speed etc.?
Very true. Let me be more clear: sooner or later you have to play a scale or arpeggio in music. You have to learn where they are on the instrument. You can certainly practice either if you are making music with it, i.e., doing what you say. What I've given up on for the most part, is simply going through the 12 scales with no expression, just the notes, which is how you're usually taught to do. I'm not averse to playing broken up scales with some expression, it's the basis of a lot of music. A friend once told me,

"Don't play like you practice. Practice like you play."

I think that is excellent advice, but perhaps not at the very beginning. You do have to learn them.
 

Pete Effamy

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Yesterday I spent two hours playing scales on the flute...Major, Major Pentatonic, Lydian, Lydian Augmented, Natural Minor, Harmonic Minor, Melodic Minor, Dorian, Minor Pentatonic, Blues, and about another 30 per key - it might be frustrating but keeps the mind active (apparently!)...and the day before that was the trumpet...:w00t:

Keep it up - the more you practice the better you get (apparently!)

Greg S.
You need to buy an old sports car Greg! :)
 
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randulo

randulo

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I've probably posted this before, but I've always loved this version of an overly-played standard, The Way You Look Tonight. There are hundreds of versions on YouTube, and this one doesn't come up for pages. I think it epitomises the possibility of being creative in many ways. The dynamics of the band, first of all. The passion and originality of the bassist, this guy is sick, as the kids say nowadays. :) If you happen to play bass try the intro, they're in Ab. The pianist is smokin', the drummer, too. And Carla's singing is just so musical, I think her scatting is as good as any (yes, Ella's, too). Now, think about what you'd play over this when she turned to you! I am.

Executive summary: economy of notes FTW.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnqE1hxGqo8


PS. Yes, they're still based on scales and arpeggios, just not playing them literally and real fast to sound hip. It put together with a musical picture to share.
 

jbtsax

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A professional clarinetist friend of mine once described working on scales as "learning the geography of your instrument". I like that description.
 
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Pete Thomas

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I hate scales.

But I find that by far the best thing to do is to work out your own patterns. You don't need books of exercises or patterns (oops, how's that for marketing!) because the best thing is to make up your own.

Once you have the ability to play a scale without having to read the notes, and to understand the way those scale notes are made up (e.g. in whole tones half tones , intervals etc.) then you don't actually need a book or a teacher to tell you that you can make a patter such as 13 24 35 46 etc.... maybe you do need a slightly mathematical brain and an ability think in patterens.That is something kids are now taught from a very early age.

The thing to do is start very basic, as above with scale in 3rds, apply the same process to any type of scale chromatic, whole tone what have you.

This is what I did when I used to have students, and before long the students would achieve the goal I had set them - to not need to come to lessons any more
 
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