Robert Estrin - piano expert

Should You Practice Scales in Contrary Motion?

An important aspect of your daily piano practice

In this video, Robert teaches you how to practice scales in "contrary motion." What does that even mean?

Released on April 29, 2020

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

This is Robert Estrin at The question today is, should you practice your scales in contrary motion? Well, first of all, what does that even mean? How can you play in contrary motion? Wouldn't your hands over lap? Well, here's how it's done and then I'll explain the value and we'll talk about whether this is something important for you to practice on the piano.

Or something like that. That gives you a taste of what you do. So you go through the scale up and down as you normally would in four octaves. Then the hands go in opposite directions. Now, why would you ever want to do that? Is this written in music? Not very often. The reason for it is you can hear the independence of the hands so much more clearly. When you're playing hands together, whether the hands are precisely together or not is hard for you to hear because they're the same notes in both hands, but when they start going in opposite directions, you can really hear better. Not only that, but your hands then can develop the ability to play independently from one another and you can really hone in your scale technique. So of course learning all your major and minor scales and arpeggios is a very important skillset to have in your back pocket, particularly if you're a classical pianist.

But for any type of pianist, I think it's incredibly valuable. Once you can do that, things like that, as well as scales and intervals of third, sixth and tenths, there's no end to what can be done with scales, but don't make the mistake of thinking that the end all is scales, arpeggios and exercises. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's important to remember that the whole reason for exercises is in service of the music so that you can play repertoire on a high level. So spend only the time necessary to hold in your technique and devote most of your practice time to music. It's more enjoyable and rewarding and you'll get more for it at the end of the day. You'll have music you can play. So put a fraction of your time into scales, arpeggios and exercises, but the majority of your time learning music and refining music, and you'll be richly rewarded. Again, I'm Robert Estrin here at, your online piano store. You're welcome to subscribe. Thanks for joining me.
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