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SUPPLEMENT
ON SCALES, APPENDIX A
WATCH THE LESSON
AT TONEBASE.CO
CREATIVE SCALE PRACTICE
JARRED DUNN – INSTRUCTOR
This appendix is designed to provide many exciting ways to practice scales
while continuing to develop your agility, speed, and control.
As a warmup, play a C Major Scale in ascending triplets in the right hand and
descending duples in the left hand. The pattern restarts after three full
repetitions of the right hand.
Try the same exercise in other keys, such as E Major.
Alternatively, you can reverse the rhythm between the two hands.
The following D-flat major scale highlights a technique Dunn uses to practice
awkward fingering changes in a scale. Play the scale in two octaves and repeat
the fingerings that give you the most trouble. Try this same principle with a
scale in any key.
This twisting pattern makes for a versatile practice technique. Dunn uses it to
preactice a chromatic scale and an F Harmonic Minor scale, both shown below.
"FOCUS YOUR ENERGY ON PLACES WHERE THE FINGERS HAVE TO CHANGE
DIRECTION, AND KEEP YOUR ARMS MOVING!"
To develop sound production and hand independence, practice extreme
dynamics very slowly. Play an A Major Scale forte with the right hand and piano
with the left hand.
Try alternating the hands and changing keys: play piano with the right hand and
forte with the left on a D Harmonic Minor scale.
Ascend through an F Major Scale with a crescendo and descend with a
decrescendo.
You can also play the entire four-octave scale with a continuous crescendo, or
decrescendo.
As Dunn referenced in Part 2 of this series, practicing in "doubles" is very
effective in gaining solidity and security. For every one note the left hand plays,
the right plays two an octave higher. You can also try the inverse, where the
right hand plays only note in the time that the left hand plays two.
Lastly, ascend with the right hand in doubles, then switch and descend with the
left hand in doubles. Maintain the same tempo, lightness, and agility even with
the change of hands.
"FOCUS YOUR ENERGY ON PRACTICING THE PARTS HARDEST FOR YOU!"
Playing triples engages the fingers even more. Take care to maintain motion of
the arm. It's also helpful to practice triples in both hands simultaneously.
While Dunn struggled to play scales in thirds for years, he found that changing
the rhythm of the scale made it easier for his fingers to play in time.
The next step is to play a consistent rhythm while changing the articulation
every four notes.
Then, try playing octaves in each hand, but with your thumbs a third apart from
one another.
Try this exercise in many keys, as well.
To practice chromatic scales, Dunn recommends an exercise called "suicides,"
named after a famous basketball conditioning drill. It builds on the concept he
introduced earlier of repeating each finger change several times, however this
takes it to the extreme.
Beginning on C, move chromatically upward and then return back to C. Increase
the number of notes you travel by one each time, so that you begin traveling
only one note, then two, then three, and so on. This exercise ensures that, with
every new finger, all the fingerings before it also work flawlessly.
Another common type of practice can help in those moments in the repertoire
where the hands must help each other finish a phrase. Here, Dunn begins an Aflat Major scale but alternates hands every four notes.
Experiment with various articulations, and even try restricting the fingers you
use. Dunn demonstrates playing with only his second and third fingers in each
hand. This is a very good exercise for promoting consistency and evenness.
Next, try changing hands or fingers in groups of 3, with various articulations.
Finally, Dunn provides an exercise inspired by the third movement of the
Brahms Piano Concerto. Take a small excerpt of a scale and make as large a
dynamic change as possible. Pictured on the left, Dunn plays four notes (D, E, F,
and G), beginning pianissimo and growing to fortissimo in a very short amount
of time.
You can also start with a longer excerpt, as notated in the second bar above,
and make the dynamic change more gradually.
"I TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY I CAN TO FIND WAYS TO MAKE PRACTICING
SCALES AS CREATIVE AS IT CAN BE."
Featured on the 2018 CBC List "Top 30 Under 30: Hot Canadian Classical
Musicians of 2018," Jarred Dunn has already established himself as a
reputable international soloist and revered pedagogue.
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