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How to Practice a parallel motion C Major scale and by example, G, D, A, E

I chose to group the following Major scales together (C, G,D, A,E) because they have parallel internal consistencies, and they stand apart from the black key pattern scales of B, F# and C#Major. (The flat equivalents of these pattern sharp scales are Cb, Gb  and Db)  The last three black key scales mentioned, are spelled differently but sound the same. (The technical name for them are ENHARMONIC scales)

I do not discuss the scales of F  Bb  Eb  Ab in this video, as they form their own separate group, and their internal content is rather unique on a scale to scale basis.

From my perspective the keys of C, G, D, A, E seem on the surface more difficult to navigate across the keyboard, hands together because they don’t appear to have any symmetries between the hands.

But upon closer examination, there are symmetries that will help students attain fluidity playing them across four octaves, hands together.

I’ll basically diagram what creates cohesion between the hands in these scales. But I will use C Major as the prototype, since the video focuses in on this one. (and by example the others I mentioned, G, D, A, E)

First, I recommend SEPARATE HAND practice, basically to introduce correct fingering, and to find tunnel fingers through which the thumbs pass. (Again these scales of C, G, D, A, E cannot be chunked in the way the double and triple black notes can in the course of a PARALLEL motion playing)

In each hand of C Major, one sees a five finger, “open position” roll-out at either end of the scale. This is certainly one kind of landmark to take note of. (The video will make this clear)

Take notice of opening five notes of the C Major  scale as played in  the LH:

CDEFG    5,4, 3, 2,1

End of scale for the RH   F  G  A  B  C  played with 1,2,3,4,5

As a separate journey for hands alone, the tunnels fingers play out through which the thumb passes.

In C Major, I demonstrate in each hand how the thumb passes under a consecutive sequence of 2,3 and 2,3,4 tunnels. I urge students to block or separately chunk these tunnel notes together.

Where does 4 play in each hand?

I now proceed to point out how critical the knowledge of where 4 in each hand occurs.

Example: In the Right Hand, 4 is on B

In the Left Hand, 4 is on D

So the next pivotal point of information to assimilate is what happens when playing a scale over the octave, which I call the place where there is a BRIDGE into the second octave.

Again, I work on this in a separate hand approach.

For the RH   B   C   D, the fingering is 2,1,4

For the LH at the bridge over the octave, the fingering is in reverse

B     C   D    4, 1,  2

Immediately one sees here a  mirror fingering between the hands, and this is an extremely important symmetry to be aware of, and to “feel” kinetically as the scale progresses from octave to octave.

Another awareness:  Thumbs meet at this juncture between the hands on the note, C. One might call it an “anchor.”

I also tell my students to think this bridge area of the scale as one where 4 in one hand, invites 4 in the other, OVER the thumbs.

I coach on the sidelines, as the scale unfolds:

“At the bridge, 4 tells 4 to come on over”

I tell students to isolate every bridge section of the scale, (only) and feel the mirrored relationship between the hands. This should be done in an ascent, and then descent.

Another symmetry relates to where the 3’s meet on the same notes between the Left and Right Hand as the scale progresses.

The following should be noted: 3’s meet on E  and on A

It’s a good idea to single out these notes from one octave to the next.

Finally, Notice that apart from the highest and lowest C of the scale, that the thumbs of both hands come together on all other C’s inside the scale.

Once you have a good understanding of the landmarks, and symmetries in this C Major scale, by “playing them out,” then conclude by building up the scale in rhythms as I’ve previously directed. (Hands together)

Two octaves: quarter notes, subdividing the beat, 1  and 2  and 3  and 4  and     (Legato, smooth and connected)

Two octaves of 8ths: Fill in the “ands”    (Legato)

Three octaves of triplet 8ths. (Roll them out)  (Legato)

Four octaves of 16ths  (Legato)

Four octaves of 16ths (Forearm staccato)

Four octaves of 16ths (softer, finger staccato)

Once you have mastered C Major, for the other scales of G, D, A and E previously mentioned as forming a group, identify where 4 is  (on what note in each hand)

Find and practice the 2,1,4 over 4,1,2 bridge sections

Look for thumb placements on the same note between the hands.

For G Major  4 is on F# in the RH     4 is on A in the LH

F#   G   A   (4,1,2)

F#   G   A   (2,1,4)

Find the other symmetries based on how we proceeded with the C Major scale.

Feel free to comment, or give me your ideas and strategies for learning these particular scales.

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