Today’s practice is on triplet scales.

Technique practice is one of the most fun parts of practicing. I could practice technique all day. It really suits me to work on agility and speed. One of the best methods for scale practice is triplet scales.

Let me teach you how to practice triplet scales. They’re very good for increasing your muscle control, for technique, and to gain control over your speed and tongue. And as a side benefit it will help increase your skill at triplet tonguing as well. Are you ready to jump in?

Triplet scales are a lot of work. You won’t merely be playing your major scales you will also be playing their relative minors and I mean all their minors – natural, harmonic, melodic. As if that is not enough, when you play each scale in triplets you must play each one 3 times to end up on the first note of the triplet. And as if that is still not enough, each scale is played slurred and triple tongued.  This means when you play a triplet scale you will end up playing each scale 6x (slurred and triple tongue) and with 3 separate minor scales (natural minor, harmonic minor, melodic minor) each played 6x then a simple matter of mathematics and viola, you’ve played 24 scales.

At first this might seem daunting.
Let me tell you, it isn’t quite so scary,
when you’re actually playing them.

When I’m practicing triplet scales, I go through all major and minor scales in one session. I’ve played them for many years (almost daily) and I do them at a fast clip. But to begin, my private students will go through one major/minor combination a week. In this practice, we’ll do a couple scales.

Why don’t you actually try the C major scale out. Play the C scale in triplets slurring groups of 3 or 6. It is easier in the end to slur everything. At the beginning however, it is easy to get off. So, slurring groups of 3, and accenting slightly the first of the 3, helps keep you on track.

Remember that you must play the scale 3x times up and down, in order to end on the beginning of a triplet. Begin slowly. You’ll be glad you did.

After that, triple tongue the scale.

I believe that using TKT KTK is the best. But, there are other ways to do it. If your teacher wants you to use something different, go ahead. It won’t ruin the scale! If you aren’t comfortable in the triple tongue realm, go slowly and slightly accent the beginning of each triplet. Go up and down 3x and end on the beginning of a triplet.

At first, all may not go smoothly. The problem generally is breathing. If you breathe randomly any place you want, then the triplets will get off. You must train yourself to breath only in between triplets, not in the middle of the triplet.

Keep trying!
These scales will get easier and more fun.

When you have finished with the C major scale, then move to the A minor scale. Play all the derivations of the A minor scale. Do them all slurring and triple tonguing.

Are you still with me?

It really isn’t too much if you take one major/minor combination at a time. I like my students to get through all the keys at a slow tempo. After they are reasonably comfortable with a moderate tempo in all the keys, then we start back at the beginning to work on speed.

In the end, your ultimate goal is to play up and down the 3 scales (for one key) in one breath. The tempo may vary for each person but the result is amazing technique and muscle control.

Have fun with triplet scales!

Doctor Flute

Watch me demonstrate: How to Practice Triplet Scales