Definition of play (or sing or practise) scales in US English:

play (or sing or practise) scales

phrase

Music
  • Perform the notes of a scale as an exercise for the fingers or voice.

    • ‘Some of them were trying to get their voices ready by singing scales, but otherwise, most of the girls were silent.’
    • ‘My advice to other pianists is to gear such matters to a purpose, but after playing scales endlessly for a week that problematical arpeggio in the score can still sound awful!’
    • ‘Eventually these skills may be polished by practicing scales, arpeggios and the like hands together, with one hand at a higher dynamic level.’
    • ‘Others tell of voices practising scales in empty rooms.’
    • ‘This piece is for intermediate students who are comfortable playing scales, two- and three-note chords, legato and staccato articulation.’