If you’re preparing your scales and arpeggios for an exam, or if you want to include some as part of your warm-up routine or technical regime, it is a good idea to be creative about how you’re going to tackle them day by day. Recently, I gave a practice plan for scales so I thought I would also give you a possible way to organise your arpeggio practice.
Assuming you already know your arpeggios in all the inversions, and have overcome the basic technical difficulties, use this plan as a springboard for further creative ideas.
This is a useful process for self-testing, and it also helps develop mental flexibility and concentration. From a given note, generate as many different arpeggios as possible that use that note, and play all on one continuous loop without stops (the last note of each arpeggio becomes the first note of the next).
For example, if we choose the note C, our loop will consist of the following different arpeggios (aim to change only one note at a time where possible, this won’t work as neatly as you go through the dominant 7ths). I suggest changing the note each day. Keep an eagle eye on fingerings:
- C major, root position
- C minor, root position
- A flat major, first inversion
- F minor, second inversion
- F major, second inversion
- A minor, first inversion
- Dominant 7th, key of F, root position
- Dominant 7th, key of D flat, first inversion
- Dominant 7th, key of B flat, second inversion
- Dominant 7th, key of G, third inversion
- Diminished 7th on C
Be creative with how you do this – you might vary the dynamics between one arpeggio and the next, play some half or double speed, or use a variety of different rhythms. You can do this over two, three or four octaves.
The so-called “Russian” form of scales and arpeggios combines elements of similar and contrary motion into one long example. It is good for building stamina, coordination and concentration. Apply it to major and minor arpeggios as well as dominant and diminished 7ths. If you’re new to this, begin very slowly and gradually work up to speed. Here is one possible design:
Different Rhythmic Patterns
Practising in a variety of different rhythms is useful for any pattern of notes in a single rhythmic value. To avoid jerkiness in the arm, I would not advocate dotted rhythms (except perhaps in dominant 7ths). For a 4-octave arpeggio, I especially like this rhythmic pattern (four notes slow and firm, four notes fast and light):
In Part 3 of my ebook series, I explore arpeggio (and scale) playing in depth. Included are many ideas for practising, as well as rhythm charts, practice charts, other interactive features and video demonstrations. Follow this link for more details.
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