We all want more even fingers, more fluid scales, rippling arpeggios and dazzling speed, but often that seems light years away. However, using these simple rhythms to practice your scales, arpeggios and even trouble spots in your repertoire pieces, you can get results quickly.
The basic principle is this: Some fingers develop more strength than others, and this is because we generally ask them to perform the same role in most of our playing. For instance, our right thumb is usually our melody finger, and so it becomes rather dominant. Our left hand fourth finger plays the low bass wires, and it also becomes very strong.
But our third fingers are usually weak. They don’t regularly play accented notes. We mostly just want them to fill in the notes of a chord, arpeggio or scale, which is precisely when we find out just how weak they are.
While there are lots of techniques to develop even fingers, one of the easiest, most effective and most enjoyable is to use rhythms as we practice scales and arpeggios. The trick is to combine the four notes played by our four fingers in different patterns so that each finger has the opportunity to play notes that are accented by their position in the pattern and by their relative length. (Remember, longer notes usually carry more weight or accent than shorter ones.)
There are 7 different rhythmic patterns that I use. Two are patterns of two notes: long-short and short-long. The others are four-note patterns using triplets. I call these: Long, then triplet; Triplet, then long; 2+1+1; 1+2+1; and 1+1+2.
This video demonstrates the rhythms:
Some important points:
Remember that depending on the length of your scale or arpeggio, you may not “come out even;” you may not end the pattern in a rhythmically logical place. That’s ok.
You will need to stay focused and count to keep your place in these rhythms. Consider this a side benefit!
Always work with a metronome for the full benefit from these patterns.
Don’t be afraid to go for speed. If you never play fast, you won’t ever play fast.