how does practicing scales and arrpeggios help your overall playing skills? i keep hearing practice your scales and arrpeggios if you want to improve your playing and go to the next level. if i wanted to improve my playing, shouldn't i just practice the song that i'm learning repitvely until i get it down perfect?
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well, here's a reason.  if you want to improvise, improvisations are made up of scales and arpeggios.  
if you just want to memorize boring old sheet music, then you're right, you don't need to know any scales or arpeggios.
when i planning out what to practice for the week, i say screw the scales.  
save your time and practice the licks you've transcribed and want to learn for technique.
once you can play all the scales at 100bpm and have a good mental image of them,
why keep hammering away?
arpeggios are different. i think all of their possible variations require lots of maintenance, mine always get sloppy if i dont practice them.
practice the scales enough so you know their shape with your fingers. but unless i had unlimited time, i would not practice them to achieve high speeds. remembering the shapes with your fingers and the fingering is the more important element here. that'll come naturally anyway as you practice other things. i can do my scales briskly now but i can't say i spent all that much time practicing it.

regardless of whether you practice scales or arpeggios (after acquiring the basics), it is important in my mind to stop thinking in a scalar context (1,2,3...8). patterns in jazz are rarely scalar. practice in a musical context. practice difficult musical contexts. practice as many different musical phrases as you can, particularly from transcription.

now you can disagree with me. i am a nobody (hey i admit it!). there are different schools of thought on this. i had a couple of teachers with opposing views on this as well. you can guess which one was classically trained.

but i discovered that this is the same advice given in "the jazz piano book" by mark levine, chapter 23. without reading this chapter, i practiced as advised since i wanted to learn in as little time as possible. it works. it worked for me.
if one can't play their scales smoothly they're missing a basic piano playing skill. it helps simply with the "lay of the keys", & conditions your fingers so that various combinations of notes won't "throw" you. plus you can see in lines the scale fragments & such which help you to better memorize stuff (along with chord knowledge). so for those who have no trouble playing them smoothly less or maybe no further practice is needed, but for most of us we sometimes need to "oil the machinery".
i practice playing music!
scales and chords are like sentences and paragraphs.  they have to
relate to something, and that something is the music.
stumpy has left the house...
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