Scales and arpeggios form an important part of the skill of playing the piano or keyboard. People do try and play without learning them, but they come up against serious limitations eventually. Here are some of the reasons why they help us progress ...
Tonal evennessScales help to you achieve tonal evenness with each finger - that is to play many notes of equal loudness and quality played successively.
Rhythmic evennessThey help you to achieve rhythmic evenness with each finger - that is to play many notes of equal length played successively.
Legato notesScales and arpeggios help you to join all the notes together - the technique is to have no gaps between them.
Staccato notesScales and arpeggios help you to play detached notes - that is to put deliberate gaps between the notes.
Action of fingers, thumbs and handThey help you to achieve a good finger action of the right kind by squeezing the note firmly with a circular action from the knuckle.
They help you to perfect the passage of the thumb or the movement of the hand over the thumb - vital to good piano technique and progress.
They help you to perfect the sideways (lateral) movement of the hand when putting the thumb under.
Shape of musicThey help you to play with shape - getting gradually louder or softer over a number of notes.
Keys in musicThey help you to be more aware of keys and key signatures - that is the number of sharps or flats in a piece of music.
Music readingThey help you to sight-read - the first reading of a piece of music - because you can recognise bits of scale and arpeggio patterns in the music.
Memory and musicThey help you to memorise music because scale and arpeggio patterns are easily recognisable and committed to memory.
Building up your confidence as a playerScales and arpeggios generally help your confidence and piano technique and therefore your progress by improving your technique on the piano or keyboard. This then enables you to devote more thought and energy to playing expressively. As these reoccur in thousands of pieces of music, scales and arpeggios help you to learn music more thoroughly and quickly.