Learn piano online - Chromatic scales

Learn piano online, the importance of chromatic scales needed to play Bach’s ‘Well Tempered Clavier’ explained - an easy Baroque piece suitable for beginner piano students.

Although not the first, ‘Well Tempered Clavier’ was one of the earliest compositions I learnt to play - odd how our paths have crossed again after all these years. I have Martin Rutherford to thank for that.

He is the conductor of the Actors Studio Chorus and Orchestra guilty of the mesmerizing performance of Baroque classics on the 16th September. More than a hundred people in a packed concert hall bore witness to this crime.  Shocked by what they saw, at the end of it they stood up to give a standing ovation.

'Well Tempered Clavier'
An easy Baroque piece. Learn piano online

‘Well Tempered Clavier’ was composed near the end of the Baroque period by Bach – who is needless to say, one of the most prominent composers from that period.

A period when bold men were challenging what was then considered conventional norms. Isaac Newton began to unravel the mysteries of gravity, King Louis the 14th of France broke ground on the construction of the Versailles and musicians such as Bach, Vivaldi and Handel began composing music meant to be played by a keyboard, great ancestor of the piano - the harpsichord.

Mentioned in the title of Bach’s ‘Well Tempered Clavier’ the word clavier is a general reference associated with a keyboard instrument.

Chromatic scales
Its importance for Baroque. Learn more piano online

It is a song with an even pace and once you have played through the first few phrases becomes a familiar repetitive piece - fairly easy to play and very suitable for beginners.

With a time signature of 4 beats in a bar, the pace of the music is not very fast. The only difficulty a beginner will face is, Bach composed the melody to change notes in rapid succession by stuffing strings of semiquavers in a bar.

Being able to recognize the fingering patterns involved is necessary to tackle the avalanche of semiquavers rushing towards you. Practicing chromatic scales religiously is an efficient way to enforce the learning of finger patterns.

Even though in ‘Well Tempered Clavier’, it is the right hand that flexes its fingers doing most of the manoeuvres, work both hands when practising the chromatic scales. Other Baroque compositions by Vivaldi and Handel may not be so kind to the left hand. Furthermore a pianist should have matching strength, agility and flexibility in both hands.

Trifecta
Unstrained fingers, wrist, arms. Learn more piano online

To keep up with the steady stream of semiquavers coming your way, agile and flexible fingers alone are not enough. Wrists and arms that are equally up to the task are also called upon.

Wrists need to be flexible to maintain the constant moving tempo demanded by Bach in ‘Well Tempered Clavier’ while the arms have to be trained to never be strained, always relaxed to avoid jerking during play. 

Reaching this trifecta - fingers, wrists and arms in a state never strained - consumes time, effort and dedication. But a properly worked out schedule can help you get up to speed faster in being able to play ‘Well Tempered Clavier’ decently enough.

Be time specific in your practice. Allocate fifteen minutes on arpeggios, ten minutes on chromatic scales or twenty minutes on scales for example.

Practice major and minors keys
Learn more piano online

Practice scales by alternating the majors and minors. It is especially beneficial because Bach, towards the end of the seventeenth century felt more freedom in the world he was living it and expressed it in his composition. He wrote the sequel to ‘Well Tempered Clavier’ in every single major and minor keys. All of them, there are twenty four.

Exercising the fingers, wrists and arms with chromatic scales develop agility and flexibility - the payoff being having fingers with sufficient muscle strength to lift high and well enough to produce clear articulation.

Return from 'Learn piano online - Chromatic scales' to all-piano-online Home



Recommended...



La Petite e’Toile

After a certain level of proficiency, playing a piano song just on its surface is not enough, delve deeper by blending in the appropriate dynamics in the right places and adhering the playing notes


...‘La petite e’toile’ is played in the key of A major. Look out for the keys signature at the far left of the staves. Three notes raised a semitone representing the key of A major, F#, C# and G# are indicated. 

There shall be numerous black key actions in this piano song, as I have duly found out just by playing the first four bars of the song - which are not even really the real substance of the song. The first line is just a decoration that has to be unwrapped before actually seeing the true romantic essense of this piano song...read the full article>>>



Juggling staccatos and legatos in a sonatina

Attain the technique to play staccato with one hand and legato with the other. Practicing with a sonatina that demands it to achieve success.


...Staccatos are ubiquitous in Sonatina, by themselves they do not pose much difficulties. Like in the first movement of the song whenever a staccato is played with the RH the LH is always resting. 

It becomes a challenge when you have to play staccato with one hand while the other plays in legato - a piano technique that requires a great deal of practice to attain. In Sonatina this starts in the first 2 bars of the second movement.

If you wish to be a good juggler of staccatos and legatos, practise hands separately. If the staccatos are in the treble clef, have the right hand practise them until you can feel the fingers hopping to the short and detached beat of the rhythm in the bar.

Next play the melody in the bass clef with the left hand until you have the fingers flowing smoothly from one key to the next unbroken and smooth - overlapping perfecly the arc of the legato line...learn more about playing the piano online, read the full article>>>



Best approach to practising

...When playing piano pieces from different genres you are actually working to improve on many different pianistic skills.

For example, a romantic slow moving ballad like ‘Ballad Pour Adeline’ demands many dynamic changes executed in legato. You shall have to listen and isolate the difference in contrasts to be able to create the goosebump inducing romantic effect of the song.

A sonatina such as the one by Dussek has several bars of repetitive notes that ask of you to switch fingers when striking them.

You can also learn how to silently alter the fingering on a key to transition to next key smoothly - valuable knowledge useful for sharpening one’s technical skills are hidden within a sonatina...learn more about playing the piano online>>>


Jumping an octave higher with agility

With regular practice these exercises will develop your skills to jump an octave higher with agility


...“Estimate the distance from where your fingers are to the keys where you are planning to jump to next“.

Okay, my friend is talking fancy because she is wearing a fancy gown tonight. But hold on, she has a point.

Just like the cat, humans are also blessed with an acute sense of where things are located. It is how I am able to reach out to pick up a pen with my hands without missing it and grabbing air. This is also how David Beckham is able to connect his pass to Wayne Rooney.

The same principle applies to when we are playing the piano. This natural ability can be honed to connect notes separated by an octave or more on the piano...learn more about playing the piano online, read the full article>>>



What to do when confronting a difficult passage?

Even one line of a musical phrase can appear intimidating if you look at it as a whole. It is truer if the song contains triplets and semiquavers lined-up in close formation.

But looks can be deceiving. If you break the passage into shorter parts you will find that only small parts of the passage in the song is challenging enough to be considered difficult. And you can focus your piano practice on those difficult parts.

By dissecting a passage of the music into shorter sections, you can analyze the smaller parts that make up the whole piano song. Make judgments where the difficulties lie and channel your concentration and energy to smoothen the piano play in those areas...learn more about playing the piano online, read the full article>>>