I have been playing piano for about 2 years now and I know all the basics from simple triads to scales, modes major minor and more advanced chords. I use to practice very hard daily to develop techniques and dexterity, finger memory and strength. My ears were also always involved and my brain well engaged. As I practiced, I didn't have a lot of time left to play music, just simple pieces to keep me interested.

Now, I feel I know enough about the piano and I am shifting my attention to music reading, playing and studying specific music styles, beginning with Bach mainly, but also other styles.

I am still learning new techniques (which come to me much quicker and easier).

So my question is:

As I shift my attention, to use what I've learnt, do I still need to practice scales, chords, arpeggios daily? And how much of it? I still currently do that but just to warm up before I actually play. My practice is more mental seeing notes, scales... but in my head.

How much practice does anyone do? How do you include it in your routines?

  • 1
    With students, I encourage scales and arpeggios as a warm-up, specifically in the keys that will be used in the pieces being practised/played at that session, to get them 'in the zone'.
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 22, 2017 at 9:27
  • I do that as well
    – user33232
    Commented Jan 22, 2017 at 11:14

1 Answer 1


My experience for what its worth. I know all my scales and arpeggios. Similar motion and contrary motion, thirds and sixths and most in double thirds. I practise them a bit most weeks.

Point one: Providing I keep practising my skill level remains the same. If I stop for any extended length of time - anything more than a month in my case - then I need to do more regular work on them to get them back to the same level that they were. I still know what to do and how to do it but it just isn't as good as it was.

Point two: The purpose of this is not solely to be able to play scales and arpeggios. It keeps my fingers supple and my hands flexible. Also I'm not just practising the notes. Its getting the tone even and the touch right. If you are using something that isn't actually a piano - a keyboard for example - then this may be less relevant depending on how expensive your instrument is, but on a real piano its an important factor.

My view is that you need to do this as it is one of the foundations on which your piano technique is built and you need your foundations to be secure.

  • That's what I thought. As a side question, can you please explain scale practise in 3rd 6th and double 3rd? I do contrary motions and all sorts as well but don't know these
    – user33232
    Commented Jan 22, 2017 at 11:16
  • 1
    Scales in thirds. Start on the tonic with the left hand and on the third with the right hand. So for C major you start with C in the lh and E in the rh. In sixths is the other way around, starting with the third in the left hand and the tonic in the right hand. Double thirds means playing both hands in thirds so you start (in C major for example) playing C and E with the left hand and also C and E with the right hand. Then move on to D and F with both hands etc.
    – JimM
    Commented Jan 22, 2017 at 11:50
  • Thanks. Can I just check though: does it mean that if you're playing in thirds, you play E Major in the rh and C Major in in the left or you're actually playing C major with both hands but starting with the E?
    – user33232
    Commented Jan 22, 2017 at 13:44
  • @user33232 C major in both hands
    – JimM
    Commented Jan 22, 2017 at 15:46
  • Great. One last question: is there a specific reason why scales are practised in 3rd, double 3rd and sixth? Is it something which is found often in music? Is it a simply harmonic? I experiment regularly with harmonies trying different intervals to see what I can use when I work on improvisation
    – user33232
    Commented Jan 22, 2017 at 15:54

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