After a two-week vacation to London and Paris, I'm on a major diet.
No, I'm not dieting because of all the brie and baguettes. I'm on a practice diet, heavy on scales.
Ah scales, they are wonderful and they are magical. I turn to them when I need to warm up, when I need to get in shape, when I need to work something out.
When my students ask me, "Why do I need to play scales"? I tend to give strange and nonsensical answers, like, "It's so you can still play when you are 80," or "So you'll never be injured," or "So you'll play in tune, in every position," or "So we can use them to work out certain bowing challenges."
All of those things are true, but no student who is new to scales understands or believes it. In order to believe in scales, I firmly believe that you need to do them every day for a good long period of time. After several years, you'll understand that it's the scales that made your hand so strong, that set your fingers aright in every single position, that gave you a consistent bow arm, that improved your counting, that made all playing easier for you.
A potential student called me recently; it was an adult student. He said he just wasn't progressing with his current teacher and wanted me to be his teacher.
"Are you willing to do scales?" I said.
"Weeeeeell," he said, in an avoiding kind of way, "I really prefer to work things out using pieces…"
Well, sure, I love pieces, too. But forget it, find someone else. Really, truly. You want to play well, but you don't want to do what it takes to play well. I can't help you if you are unwilling to help yourself.
So today I'd like to ask again about your scale habits; and you can answer honestly, as this is anonymous. I won't come to your door with the scale police! And maybe you disagree with me; if so, you are welcome to say why. ;)
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