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Monthly Archives: August 2015

Always Play Scales When Practicing

Why does my violin teacher have me play scales all of the time?

 If you hadn’t realized it, scales are the building blocks from which most music is made. Just look at the pieces you are currently learning and you will see scales or parts of scales all over it. Their importance cannot be underestimated, be good at scales and you are likely to be good at your instrument.

 5 more reasons why practicing scales are an
important part of learning to play violin.

  1. Timing– to play together with other people you need to have good time, good internal time. One of the best ways to develop this is to practice scales. Slowly at first, until you are placing each and every  note exactly where it needs to be, not too soon or too late – just right.
  2. Intonation– for most instruments, like the violin, there is a need to make sure we are playing in tune.. Scales are a great way to check the tuning of each and every note.
  3. Co-ordination– during music practice we have lots of things to remember and the really difficult thing is to remember to do them all at the same time (breathe, sit up straight, bend those fingers, etc). Scales give you an opportunity to focus on bringing all of those elements together. Once you have learnt the notes of a scale you can make sure that everything else happens just at the right moment to make the scale sound perfect.
  4. Dexterity– one part of learning an instrument involves training parts of the body to do new things, to repeat them and then do them very quickly. Scales are a great training partner. They will help you refine and improve your speed. Slow, careful practice of scales at the outset will have you whizzing up and down in no time.
  5. Ears– if you can’t hear what is wrong you can’t correct it. Learn to listen very, very carefully when you practice your scales and you will start to hear areas where you can improve your other playing. Pay attention to tuning, articulation, tone quality, consistency etc. Imagine what a perfect scale would sound like in every way and try to make each of your scales sound like that.

One of the worlds greatest violinist

One of the worlds greatest violinist

Advice from, perhaps one of today’s greatest living violinist, Itzahak Perlman.

“Practice slowly” is the most common advice violinist Itzhak Perlman gives students wanting to learn to play violin.  He then elaborates on the practice schedule that made him the violinist he is today:  Young Itzhak would devote one hour per day to scales, another hour to the études.  Making sure you do the scales properly before devoting yourself to the etudes, will save you a lot of time, Perlman explains. Practicing scales does make perfect!