Multiple Octave Scales

One of the most useful applications of the thumb under and crossing over the fourth finger techniques is to extend the playing of scales to several octaves. Up until now you have only played the major scales for a single octave of eight notes. Using the techniques you have learned in this chapter, you will now be able to play your major scales for several octaves, even spanning up and down the entire eighty-eight keys of the piano.

Starting with the C major scale in the right hand, you can postpone ending the scale at the first octave by tucking your thumb underneath your fourth finger to play the high note C with the thumb (rather than the pinky) and continuing on up the scale. By always having your thumb end up on the note C, you are ready to continue the scale another octave. Only in the final octave should you use your pinky to play the last C note.

FIGURE 12-6: C major scale ascending—right hand fingering

As you learn additional scales and expand them to several octaves always remember to keep the goals of evenness in tempo and rhythm, proper posture, and correct hand placement foremost in your mind. The natural tendency when playing repetitive exercises like scales is to become a bit sloppy and lose mental focus. Fight it!

On the way back down, once you land your thumb on the C note, cross over your fourth finger to play the B and continue the scale downward.

FIGURE 12-7: C major scale descending—right hand fingering

The left hand is similar to the right, only you will do it in reverse order: crossing over the fourth finger on the way up and tucking the thumb under the fourth on the way down.

FIGURE 12-8: C major scale ascending and descending—left hand fingering

Now try both hands together. Take it slow and remember that both thumbs need to land on the C in order for you to continue the scale for more than one octave.

FIGURE 12-9: C major scale ascending and descending—both hands together

At this point you should revisit all of the scales already mastered from Chapter 8 and extend them to multiple octaves. It is helpful to begin an octave or so below middle C to start your scale, or you may run out of notes in the upper range of the piano. After extending the scale to two octaves, try to extend it further. Ideally, you will be able to play all the major scales for four octaves up and down.

You can use this multiple octave fingering for the C, G, D, A, and E major scales. If you wish to extend beyond two octaves, simply make sure that both thumbs land on the first note of the scale and continue onward.

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