Scaling New Heights:
Major Scale Duets on Keyboard Classics

“Thank you for sharing your book with me. I enjoyed playing through it. I was impressed by the intelligent (and totally charming!) combination of keyboard skills, music appreciation, and music history. I admire your approach to teaching: a combination of practical skills, historical knowledge, collaborative experience, and stylistically informed, natural musicality.”
-Dr. Slawomir Dobrzanski, Professor of Music (Piano), Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas

“Laura Spitzer’s Scaling New Heights offers a welcome antidote to the oft-perceived tedium of scale practice. Drawing on classics from the piano repertoire, Spitzer provides stylistically-varied musical accompaniments to rhythmically varied major scales that will engage the student, enabling them to hone their sight-reading skills and consolidate rhythmic assurance, all the while revelling in the joys and discipline associated with ensemble playing. The concept is equally applicable to students of violin, cello and flute, and a follow-up volume for minor key scales is eagerly awaited. This publication is a must-have for any teacher wanting to expand their current pedagogical tool-kit.”
-Glenn Riddle, Lecturer in Keyboard, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne, Australia

“Thanks for your major scale duets, Dr. Laura Spitzer! The scale fingerings at the back of the book are really helpful. My young students love the accompaniments of piano classics, and the colorful and fun rhythm of the scales keeps them engaged. Thanks for introducing the excellent classic works; students are excited about playing them in the future. Additionally, I used the duets in my piano class with students aged 17 to 21. We were all entertained by the lovely ensemble. Scaling New Heights makes my classes more interesting and lively!”
-Huan Chen, piano faculty,
Chongqing Vocational College
of Culture and Arts, China.

“I love this original and fun approach to learning scales.  Scaling New Heights covers many bases:  as they practice scales in varying rhythms and learn the circle of fifths, students will also become familiar with beloved classics as they make beautiful music. This book is a valuable resource as a supplement to technical exercises and theory, as well as a source of lovely teacher/student duets.  Scaling New Heights is the answer to the question of how to make learning scales fun.  Highly recommended.”
-Anne Hill, Royal Conservatory of Music certified piano teacher, Terrace, B.C., Canada

Scaling New Heights introduces a new concept: playing scales to the accompaniment of piano classics! Beginning and intermediate piano students will be excited to join in the performance of original excerpts from great piano literature while mastering their major scales.

Each primo part completes at least two ascending and descending runs of a single-octave scale in rhythms that turn scales into beautiful and fun countermelodies. I have strived to make the scale part a worthy complement to the musical work underneath it. All the pieces in this book are in their original keys. Together, these 18 duets span all twelve major keys, with two duets in D major, two in Ab major, and five in the popular key of G major.

Since the task of learning notes is removed, the primo scale parts are also an excellent rhythmic study for beginning and intermediate students.

The primo scale part may be played in whatever octave sounds the best to the players, with either the right hand, left hand, or, where the range allows, both. Playing on a second keyboard opens up the possibility of playing as written, in the keyboard’s mid-range. If played on a second keyboard that is digital, using a vocal or instrumental sound will make it stand out from the secondo part. Fingerings have been omitted so the student will rely on memory rather than printed finger numbers. Scale fingerings are included at the back of the book.

Audio tracks of the full duet as well as secondo accompaniment parts are provided below. The primo parts are performed in the octave that we liked the best, but we encourage experimentation! The recordings can be used for practice at home, in lessons, and to create an audio or video duet performance for friends and relatives.

Published June 8, 2021

Complete Scale Duets

Sujie Zhao, primo–Laura Spitzer, secondo

The Entertainer (1)

The Entertainer (2)

La Volta

Minuet in G

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (1)

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (2)

Rage Over a Lost Penny

Soldier’s March

Canon in D (1)

Canon in D (2)

Gymnopédie No. 1

Sonata in A

Etude, Op. 10, No. 3

Sonata in B

Humoresque

Raindrop Prelude

Pathétique Sonata

Waltz in Ab

Golliwog’s Cakewalk

The Mysterious Barricades

The Happy Farmer

Accompaniments

Laura Spitzer, secondo

The Entertainer (1)

The Entertainer (2)

La Volta

Minuet in G

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (1)

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (2)

Rage Over a Lost Penny

Soldier’s March

Canon in D (1)

Canon in D (2)

Gymnopédie No. 1

Sonata in A

Etude, Op. 10, No. 3

Sonata in B

Humoresque

Raindrop Prelude

Pathétique Sonata

Waltz in Ab

Golliwog’s Cakewalk

The Mysterious Barricades

The Happy Farmer

More Reviews

“I have been impressed with both the refreshing approach and the pedagogical value of Scaling New Heights and the inclusion of recordings of the pieces and accompaniments themselves.

“A glance at the material was enough to conclude that it is an excellent book for students as it provides a useful framework for playing scales that exists in music reality. But it wasn’t until I started playing that I realized how these added scales arranged in new rhythmic structures makes playing these beautiful pieces even more rewarding, engaging and fun. 

“This book develops many skills – technical fluency, awareness of a good tone quality, practicing various rhythmic patterns and ensemble piano playing. From the pedagogical point of view it is also useful for young students to discover the range of quality music from a variety of genres and styles. Noteworthy here is the additional content of the “Did you know” section with historical facts, musical concepts and funny anecdotes.

“Scaling New Heights is obviously driven by pedagogy, but it leaves me just impressed by the beauty of the music, making practicing scales a pleasant experience. I highly recommend the publication as a very attractive way of practicing scales and enjoyable duet material for learners.”
-Agnieszka Lasko – pianist, composer, educator, author of best-selling Polish piano method book ‘First Class Piano’, Lodz, Poland

“If we share an idea that the musical development, the inner joy of making music, personal involvement of a player, and the passion for playing is the final goal and dream of the music teacher, then this method of Dr. Spitzer’s teaching scales is a wonderful way to inspire young pianists.  This method leads a talented pianist into a greater role.  It eliminates the difference between the soloist and the accompaniment.  Both musicians share the same big task to master the composition and enjoy playing it together.”
-Vendula Stepanova, Pianist, Musicologist, Prague, Czech Republic

“Upon receiving and playing Dr. Spitzer’s new scale duets I was taken by how practical and useful such a work will be for students.  When I used to play scales in my childhood I didn’t see any reason for practicing them. I didn’t understand their purpose.  No one said to me that scales were a fundamental source of  sounds  not only for elementary pieces, but also for advanced compositions that I might eventually get to play, master and understand them.  Studying and practicing scales based on works of famous composers using four hands facilitate deeper, almost effortless understanding of their structure.  Playing them with a more experienced partner also can be very inspirational.  I believe that most younger students in these duets will be looking forward to playing them.  And, more importantly, they very well might be more eager to learn.”
Jana Kafkova Podebrady Symphony Orchestra, Podebrady, Czech Republic

“Thank you for creating another way to encourage aspiring pianists to engage themselves in mastering the essential foundation-building art of playing scales while simultaneously exposing them to masterpieces in piano literature. I wish you much continued success.”
-Dr. Stan Ford, Professor of Piano, Universität Mozarteum, Salzburg, Austria

“Practicing scales is one of the essential skills for pianists in order to develop a solid technique.  Scales play a pivotal part in most pieces in piano repertoire.  However, playing them well and enjoying the process of learning them is usually met with a little resistance.  Playing scales is usually called a very  boring,  repetitive activity especially by young children.  So, how can we prevent this reluctant attitude demonstrated by many pianists of all ages?    The answer may lie with Dr. Laura Spitzer’s new work titled,”Scaling New Heights”.  The scales are introduced in the form of duets based on many well-known classical piano pieces.  I think it is a very brilliant idea  and I cannot wait to use this new concept with my students.”
Anna Habicht, Piano Teacher, El Paso, Texas

“Groans and moans no more! Scale practices will no longer need to be regarded as boring additions to the student’s technical regimen. Instead, teachers and students can enjoy a new way of practicing scales with Laura Spitzer’s Scaling New Heights, a collection of duets showcasing a wonderful new concept of setting major scales to well-known keyboard literature.

“The book is well organized and arranged. Both the primo and secondo parts are printed on the same page while an extraction of the primo part alone is provided towards the end of the book. A diagram of the circle of fifths is included to help students understand the music theory behind the organization of keys. Students will also come across “Did You Know” sections throughout the book, filled with interesting and fun facts about different composers as well as some music theory terms and concepts. While scale fingerings are omitted in the actual duets, a reference section of all twelve major scales, wonderfully organized by similar fingering concepts, can be found at the end of the book. Lastly, as an added bonus, audio tracks of all the duets are available online for reference and as an additional practice tool.

“From a pedagogical perspective, the benefits of these duets are manifold. For example, aimed towards the beginning and intermediate levels, students will find the need to properly observe rhythm as simple scales are rhythmically transformed into musically interesting complements to original works such as Beethoven’s Pathétique Sonata, Pachelbel’s Canon in D, and even Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer. The value of good fingering will be quickly realized, forcing students to work towards solidifying proper scale fingering. In addition to all this and more, one of the best parts of this collection is the collaborative learning that is promoted using simple scales, providing students with the opportunity to develop ensemble, listening, musical and creative skills – all of this with just the twelve major scales!

“This book will definitely be an asset to music libraries of any and all students and pedagogues.”
-Dr. Jane Park, piano teacher, Rancho Cucamonga, CA

“An ingenious, delightful, and effective pedagogical book that introduces major scales, keyboard classics, and the concept of chamber music playing all at once! The scales for the Primo part can also be extended to any other type of music instrument, not just limited to the piano.

“Many fun historical facts describing the background of these pieces and humorous anecdotes of their composers in the four “Did You Know?” section inserts, further enhance the enjoyment and remembrance in the process of mastering this literature. Highly recommended for the studio collection of any music teacher!”
– Dr. Yue-Fun Chuang, Ph.D., Piano Performance, Granada Hills, CA

“Laura Spitzer’s “Scaling New Heights” book is an interesting method for piano students to review scales in all key signatures and to review different rhythm patterns. The book also provides a good approach for teaching listening and ensemble playing skills that pianists often lack.  The “Did You Know” music facts are an added bonus.  They are a good way to help students familiarize themselves with composers and to learn about music history. “
Brian D. Glenn, President, Music Teachers Association of California Pomona Valley Branch

“It is an interesting book that uses all of the major scales with a different rhythmic pattern approach and as a duet against the accompaniment of popular and famous tunes.  The book not only provides a fun way of practicing scales in a duet setting but also includes short notes about different composers which is great and helpful!”
Irene Yong, piano instructor, California