Numbers and letters are the building blocks of numeracy and literacy. For a person to be deemed literate in these skills, it would be a fair assumption that they might have to study them, remember them, understand them, and learn to apply them in reading and speech.
In music, scales and arpeggios hold the same status; in short, if one learns to recognise, and perform them at will, a lot of the notation on a piece of sheet music will make sense and be easier to play; all this making a musically literate person.
It is highly unlikely that a person could get through a piece of music without at some point finding a form of scale or arpeggio within the notation. Obviously, there are exceptions to this, such as music deliberately written to exclude standard musical shapes, but for the majority of musical pieces, classical, or otherwise, this most certainly applies.
Avoidance is never the answer, sooner or later, we will always have to face facts, which is that we do indeed need them; however, usually at this point, the fallout, from years of neglect causes a point of discomfort, which is, that years of knowledge must be crammed into a very short span, often with unfavourable results. As with most things, a little and often always beats a binge.
From my experiences, all major scales, and all ‘natural’ minor scales can be learned in as little as a few months; if motivated a week or two. If you have not already, set yourself the challenge of learning them; at least the major scales.
I promise you won’t regret it.
Dylan completed his music training with honours at Colchester Institute, where he studied piano with Australian pianist Lesley Young, and composition with British composer Dr Mark Bellis. While studying, in 2009, Dylan won Colchester Institute’s Canon Jack Award for Solo Piano adjudicated by Andrew Ball. A composer, promoter, and advocate of contemporary classical music, Dylan joined the membership of Colchester New Music in 2014.
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