If you have spent any time at all learning to play an instrument, you have come across scales and arpeggios. There is a reason for this - they are the foundation to musical technique, and one of the very basic doors we have into the understanding of music.
Memorize these scales and arpeggios. Be able to say the key signatures for any of the major or minor scales, and also be able to write them from memory. Once you have these memorized, play them in different ways, using different rhythms. Make up your own tunes in each of the keys using the scale and arpeggios.
And, as always - when practicing or performing - play with the best possible sound. Don't accept anything less. Here are some more tips:
- Accuracy is the goal, not speed
Work on each scale slowly using a metronome. At first, start at 60 beats per minute OR LESS to get them under your fingers and into your mind. The rule is this: If you are making mistakes, you're going too fast. As you start to feel comfortable with them, gradually speed up. Always use the metronome, and never speed up more than 4 beats per minute.
Listen to the sound of the scale. If it doesn't sound right, it probably isn't. Use your position chart, and if necessary, pencil in the positions. Again, accuracy is what counts, and speed will come with repetition.
- Keep track of your progress.
On the back of the scale sheet, make a simple chart with each scale name. Write down the date and metronome setting. After a few weeks, you'll be able to see your progress in this chart.
- Set a goal, and stick with it.
How much time are you going to spend on a daily basis working on your scales? 5 minutes? 30 minutes? Somewhere in between? It is not the amount of time spent, but the consistency which will gain the results. A good goal is 10 minutes a day focused on scales as a part of your daily practice routine.
Remember this: If you don't have time to learn them correctly the first time, how will you find time to re-learn them later?