What is the best piano technique for chromatic scales?

05 September 2021
By Melanie Spanswick
Pianist and teacher Melanie Spanswick explains how to master your chromatic scales

1. Work on your finger agility

To practise chromatic scales so that they can be played easily and evenly, both rhythmically and tonally, it's prudent to work on finger agility. I encourage my students to keep relaxed, flexible wrists, hands and arms when playing any scales or arpeggios. To make sure you are loose, drop your arm down by your side and let it swing from your shoulder. You should now feel free and the arm should ideally be 'heavy 'as your muscles relax. Aim to keep this loose feeling as you sit in the playing position, this will help you come to terms with the feeling of relaxation.


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2. Rotate the wrist and hand as you move up and down the keys

As you play chromatic scales, moving from white to black keys using the third finger and thumb (and sometimes the second finger, too), aim to use a slight rotational motion within the wrist and hand. The movement might be described as akin to turning a doorknob!

Keep the thumb and third finger closely connected to the keys and ensure a deep touch when practising slowly. The slow and deeper you play into the key bed, the easier it will be to play at speed. Once secure with the note patterns, lighten your touch and rotate the hand and wrist quickly between the fingers. This will gradually feel easier and speed won't be an issue. Touch should be more even as well.


3. Get professional advice from one of Britain's most successful classical pianists


Join us live on Zoom on 21 September at 7pm BST for more advice on piano technique – including how to play chromatic scales. If you are wanting to vastly improve your piano technique, absorbing advice from the best pianists around can only benefit you. Tickets and info can be found below.

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