I am about a month and a half away from the grade 8 piano exam. I am 43 and have been playing since I was 16. I practice the scales every day in all of the ways recommended by my teacher and online but I am struggling with them. I know them, can do them perfectly some days, but most of the time my fingers slip off the keys or I hit the neighbouring note or get out of sync. It seems to get worse the more I practice. I have never really had an issue with scales before. My teacher thinks I am anxious but I don’t feel anxious about them. I do get frustrated but I don’t start practice frustrated. I used to be great at scales. Has anyone heard of this and does anyone have any suggestions. All I’ve heard is practice more. But I practice a lot. At least an hour on scales a day and more recently as I am worried. Tried slowing down, rhythmic variations, staccato, legato. Maybe I am just getting old and losing my skill!
Having tried everything playing wise, have you tried leaving them for a good few days? The brain's a funny thing. I've had students of whom I've commented 'you've worked hard this week', to receive the reply 'actually, I've had no time at all to practise'. Sometimes the brain needs a rest from constant repetition, in order to digest and assimilate what we feed it.
It's possible that you struggle with scales because you don't actually enjoy playing them. You say that you are practising them every day - which feels like too often.
Maybe write all the scales out on a pack of playing cards, shuffle them and only do one or two a day. If your brain is rejecting the regimented nature of scales than maybe move towards improv: just turn the TV or radio on and try to play the first piece of music you hear!
I passed my Grade 8 Clarinet whilst failing the scales section: So I can assure you that not fully grasping the width and breadth and majesty of scales does not totally hold you back!
Science says you have to review something the next day, and then 3 days later, and then once a week, then once a month. Feel free to verify this!
Also tend to your brain health, make sure you get good sleep, exercise increases bloodflow... try to cut down on sugar, don't be afraid of eating fat because it doesn't turn into fat in your body (unlike sugar) -- and also find a sound program for your phone or computer (like fruityloops) and a scale or chord pack and just listen to the different scales and mess around with them...
The brain will learn on its own. If you give it space... don't force it. You can't beat something into your head. 💗