Fergus Black

music teacher and performer

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ABRSM Grade 5 piano - Tip for Learning Scales

There are certain scales that in general are not as well known to the student as others, and cause difficulty: the black minor scales and f minor spring easily to mind. I find that this is often due to an unfamiliarity with what notes are actually in the scale.

Kids learn things all the time, by rote - german irregular verbs, elements of the periodic table, times tables, etc. I would encourage them to learn the notes in scales in the same way.

You could get someone at home to test the student on keys for scales (both up AND down). In an ideal world, where they are fully on top of the situation, they should also know which note is played by the 4th finger in each hand in each scale.

This must be done away for the keyboard, forcing the student to visualise the scale in the mind’s eye. I would also suggest that in their responses they give the full name of the note, for example saying “A natural”, and not simply “A”.

N.B. These cards are for Harmonic Minor Scales, since that is what I would advise students to chose for the exam (rather than Melodic Minors)

As with all my tips, this comes with the usual disclaimers about no responsibility taken by me if it doesn’t help you, or makes matters worse!

FERGUS BLACK
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C sharp minor:–

  • C sharp
  • B sharp
  • A natural
  • G sharp
  • F sharp – LH 4th finger
  • E natural
  • D sharp – RH 4th finger
  • C sharp

E flat minor:–

  • E flat
  • D natural
  • C flat
  • B flat – RH 4th finger
  • A flat
  • G flat – LH 4th finger
  • F natural
  • E flat

F minor:–

  • F natural
  • E natural
  • D flat
  • C natural
  • B flat – RH 4th finger
  • A flat
  • G natural – LH 4th finger
  • F natural

F sharp minor:–

  • F sharp
  • E sharp
  • D natural
  • C sharp
  • B natural
  • A natural
  • G sharp – RH 4th finger
  • F sharp – LH 4th finger

G sharp minor

  • G sharp
  • F double sharp
  • E natural
  • D sharp
  • C sharp – LH 4th finger
  • B natural
  • A sharp – RH 4th finger
  • G sharp

B flat minor

  • B flat – RH 4th finger
  • A natural
  • G flat – LH 4th finger
  • F natural
  • E flat
  • D flat
  • C natural
  • B flat
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