“She Played a Scale.”

My wonderfully musical sister sent me to a blog post on Saturday called Why I’d Spend a Lot More Time Practicing Scales If I Could Do It All Over Again.  In it, music performance psychologist Noa Kageyama discusses scales as the quintessential practice tool.  To sum up his thoughts, scales provide a structure within which all the complexities of sound production can be explored.

Kageyama claims to have accessed this insight during a master class with famed cellist Natalia Gutman.  Her scales made the world stop – at least on that day at that chamber music festival workshop.  He then relates the scale to the practice whereby some chefs judge cooking talent by the production of an egg versus some complicated dish; most of us probably have some understanding that the simple basics must be perfected continually.  He goes on to talk about an NBA player, Tim Johnson, who is apparently known for his solid fundamentals.  Those fundamentals have added up to accolades aplenty over the course of his career.

Kageyama’s blog is called “Bulletproof Musician” – he wants to help people overcome psychological barriers to success, be they performance anxiety or feeling stuck in a rut musically.  Though he and his typical reader take their playing a little more seriously than I take mine, I’m happy to have discovered him.

And by the way, this isn’t just words; he inspired me – on Sunday and Monday both I spent half an hour on scales.

Thanks for reading.



  1. Nice read today 🙂 My favorite part of every piano practice session was scales. It was predictable and I could do them well 😊 I don’t think I ever spent a half hour on them though! Good for you!

  2. It’s amazing how fast half an hour goes! Glad you liked it.

  3. Yes, I still like practicing them!! My college piano teacher told me that as a general rule of thumb, a third of your practice time should be technique–scales, arpeggios, and the like. So if you have a 3 hour practice session ( I did those in college, not so much anymore!!!) , one full hour should be technique. One hour practicing, 20 min on technique. And it’s amazing how agile, warmed up, and sharp I felt after putting in good time on technique, though I guess it shouldn’t be surprising! So tempting to skip scales when time is short, but handicaps you in the long-run.

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