There are a large number of piano scales, and you should aim to become proficient over time in all of them over time, however avoid overwhelming yourself early on with too many different types.
Instead ask your piano teacher to provide you with scales that are associated with the pieces of music that you are learning and then start each practice session by performing them. Many of the adult books will also suggest different piano scales as you progress.
There is one thing about piano scales that you will quickly discover, and that is that they can be boring, certainly compared with a piece of music. For this reason it is worth energising your scales by varying them, not only, which scales you play, but how you play those scales. There are a number of ways you can bring a bit of challenge and variety into your scales and these are our favorite for a beginner.
- 1. Double up your scales
Scales travel eight notes, which is one octave. To double your scale, you will travel 16 notes, which is two octaves. To do this start as you would for C Major, thumb on Middle C, then run your fingers up the keyboard in the pattern three fingers pass under, five fingers, then three fingers, pass under, and five fingers. Going back down play five fingers pass over, three fingers and again repeat to get back to your starting position. This could be simply written as 3, 5, 3, 5, 5, 3, 5, 3. Adding the extra pass under of your thumb and over with your third finger is an extremely good work out for your fingers.
- 2. Hands together (1)
Start with both your thumbs sharing Middle C, then run each hand away from the centre. The pattern for both hands is the same three notes then pass the thumb under and five notes, then back, five notes then pass the third finger over.
You can increase the difficulty of this exercise by combining it with the double scales above.
- 3. Hands together (2)
Having mastered hands together with your fingers doing the same thing on each hand it is now time to do it with two hands but both moving in the same direction. This can be much more difficult because while your right hand is moving in a pattern of three, five, your left hand will be moving in a pattern of five, three.
It is worth persisting with this exercise, as it is common for your hands to have to work in completely different ways to each other.
By combining and performing all of these you will find your fingers become comfortable with moving up and down the keyboard and this will greatly assist your progression to more difficult pieces.