As I was working on the Pares Scales books, and feeling myself getting better at keeping my fingers moving and playing one note at a time — not getting ahead and fumbling things — I realized that scales and trot poles are pretty much the same things, just for different disciplines.

Let me explain. In horseback riding, trot poles or small cavaletti are poles spaced on the ground, or slightly raised, which force the horse to think about being careful with his feet and to help enhance rhythm and fluidity. They’re a visual reminder to pay attention and can help the rider with balance, changes of gait, and cadence.

Scales are very much the same. When I’m practicing scales, I’m doing so because I’m trying to get my fingers to work right, something that can be difficult with fibromyalgia (cadence, changes of speed, accuracy). I am working on rhythm and making sure I’m fluid with the music.

They’re both basic exercises that help with many similar concepts. And both are part of good practice.

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