Scale Books

March 30, 2012 at 06:54 PM · I know there are lots of scale books out there. Can we discuss the pros and cons of these? I'm aware of Galamian, Flesch, Barbara Barber, Hrimaly, Simon Fischer ... are there other good ones?

Replies (30)

March 30, 2012 at 07:53 PM · Nadaud's "Gammes Pratiques" (Bozza ed.) is excellent. I got it in 1965 when studying in Paris, and some of my American teachers have remarked that they thought it superior to Galamian, Flesch, and the other ones commonly used in the US. I am not sure it is still in print.

March 30, 2012 at 08:13 PM · I don't believe there is a "wrong" scale book per se, although of course much are more practical to some than others. Many of them fill a different niche at different stages of the student's progress. One doesn't need to have all scale books to be sure, but I find scales too essential to ignore, whichever books one does prefer to use.

In my own experience, the most useful to date have been both Galamian and Flesch. All fingerings are useful to learn-Galamian's 3-octave scale fingerings tend to be "easier" in my experience (and also because I learned them first.) I like Flesch thirds progressions, octaves, etc. as well as the one string scale exercises. Another scale book which I like is the one by Elisabeth Gilels, the "russian" scale book (with the 4 octave scales, etc.) In practice, I end up using Flesch scales and fingerings daily for the most part, adding the trademark Galamian initial scale note turns (the rhythms and bowings suggested by Galamian are also golden.)

I am very much interested in Mr. Fischer's new scale book, and I will probably be acquiring it as soon as I can (I wish stores carried it in NYC, but indeed it is a very recent release.)

Also, does anybody on the forums know where I could purchase a physical copy of Ms. Gilels' scale book? I have the whole thing in copy format, but would very much like to have the proper book.

March 30, 2012 at 08:25 PM · After going through seven or so scale books, I always come back to Flesch. Excellent third scales and arpeggios, and well, if you can nail the thirds there aren't much to be scared about!

April 10, 2012 at 02:55 AM · Greetings,

When I was at music college the Galamian book was first released and was embraced with wild enthusiasm by some teachers and more Luke warmly in other quarters. These masterworks are actually rather different. Although a close reading of Flesch' s writing actually suggests that his work is the prototype of what Galamian was advocating (the use of bowings,rhythms and accents to create puzzles that strengthen mental control) I have not seen much evidence that it is systematically used in this way. I think there are two explanations for this. First of all, students are mentally lazy! Fylesch was disappointed to find that his first scale manual, literally the c major section of the book was all students practiced. They coudn't even be bothered to do the transposing. As a result he felt coerced into publishing it as it now stands. In its present form it is for reasonably advanced violinists who have mastered Hrimaly. I do not agree with teachers who give the Flesch too soon. So my second reason why this work is not used in exactly the same way as Galamian is that the level of player who use the Flesch most efficiently has no real need to sit down everyday and work through variations systematically. Rather they know what they want in terms of staying in shape and perhaps focusing on one specific area using the scales and that is all they do. In this sense the Galamian is not absolutely necessary.

The Galamian on the other hand was a clear wake up call to teacher and player alike that we did need to do better in terms of focus and provided a clear blueprint to do this. The success of his approach speaks for itself but it must be said that ther ears players/teachers with fantastic students who think it is not only unnecessary but harmful. Probably it is just another issue of common sense but we should never lose site of other perspectives if they have substance.

Which brings us to Simon's book which ranks along side these two as one of the major pedagogical works in the field. And yes, it is not a rehash. Simon takes the position that a scale is a finished product that integrates so many aspects of playing that unless these things are in place we may be doing as much harm as good by practicing scales. In this sense he highlights the underlying weakness (to strong a word-let's say potential weakness) of F and G. Scales are supposed to both be in tune and improve intonation. But how on earthy is one supposed to achieve this. It seems that most of us don't actually know so we resort top exhorting students to listen top their intonation. Great! Listen to what?

It's knot that simple. Simon' s book explains a simple solution to this problem that is applied to everything in the book. For the first time someone who is struggling can grab a lifeline explaining 'how' to learn to play in tune. Furthermore the book is absolutely all embracing, covering some areas that Flesch missed. For example, one and two octave scales layer in all position. Incidentally, this has a dramatic effect on intonation.

On top of this Simon has tried to make the manual also a self study method and has succeeded brilliantly. One continually finds new information to enhance ones scale practice and overall playing even as one works on the scales.

It is a phenomenal work .



April 10, 2012 at 03:30 AM · Yes, the Fischer book is really great! I am glad that it is not thicker, but I am still supriced that he omits doublestops. Perhaps next book?

April 10, 2012 at 03:47 AM · Buri, did you buy a smart phone or something with spell check? I didn't recognize you at first.

April 10, 2012 at 05:22 AM · Greetings,

Emily, I am writing on the new iPad . There is a very expensive application called 'decipherBuriorgetthe runs'. It seems to help. The miracle of modern technology.


Buri the unknowable

April 10, 2012 at 06:49 AM · Hi Buri;

do you also recommend S.fischer's scale book (so overlaps with hrimaly, for instance)to beginners as well or is it a decidedly advanced book? i do need a scale book that i could use on my own.


April 10, 2012 at 07:27 AM · Greetings,

yes. It goes all the way from the simplest to the most advanced scales. You can`t go wrong.



April 10, 2012 at 09:22 AM · Buri obviously has a new secretary who can spell!! Unless she's under his spell ...

April 10, 2012 at 10:43 AM · Thanks Buri, i'm waiting for the scale book delivery + the DVD tone production.

About other scale books, my teacher has one by a teacher is also armenian and she said they used that book in armenia inkeeping with the russian schooling. is anyone familiar with that book? she says she finds it better structured (or perhaps she's just more familiar with it) than the flesch scales book...

April 10, 2012 at 11:04 AM · Peter,

Ipud is the answer to your spelling woes...


April 10, 2012 at 12:44 PM · Buri wrote, "I do not agree with teachers who give the Flesch too soon."

Some give the Flesch. Some take the Flesch away.

April 10, 2012 at 01:03 PM · Some say the Flesch is weak ...

April 10, 2012 at 07:21 PM · wouldn`t give it to my own flesch and blood either....

April 10, 2012 at 08:33 PM · If you make a mistake in your scales, it's only a Flesch wound.

April 10, 2012 at 09:04 PM · Some say the Flesch is weak ...

After I understood it, it was quite good :D

April 10, 2012 at 11:46 PM · BTW

Just to get back on the serious track (never quite sure why) Mattias mentioned double stopping, or the absence thereof. It would have been impossible to include them in a volume this massive but I am pretty sure the are on the way...

A very significant aspect of the extant scale book is the meticulous care taken in indicating which fingers are to be prepared and left down during scale work. In my experience, this -absolutely- fundamental aspect of technique is largely neglected by the average teacher who has very little knowledge of how this should be done or when. If one follows the indications Simon provides then a whole new dimension of advanced technique is learned without realizing it. One begins to feel that one -is- doing double stop practice while plaing simple scales. It's awesome!

Using an incomprehensible and weird analogy from my current involvement in Japanese Igo , books on this subject often have the following blurb on the back: "reading this book is worth six stones."

Using 'scales' is worth at least six stones.......



April 11, 2012 at 01:29 AM · Buri, this is the kind of insight I was hoping to gain when I started this threat -- thanks!

April 11, 2012 at 07:03 AM · Buri - can you turn that spell checker off? Before the delightful and profuse grammatical errors were in context, now they are totally weird. Its a bit like a violin concerto played by me on a del Gesu (yes, figure that out). Besides, I miss the Burisms... Did I just coin a new word?

BTW Fischers eat Flesch.

On scales - I find the Flesch book totally intimidating. And I doubt there are many who actually work through it and don't just use it as an encyclopedia. I have not seen Fischer's book - I just hope its more accessible... Frankly, I hope he enjoys the meal...

April 11, 2012 at 12:39 PM · Spell check didn't catch "It's knot that simple."

Awesome pun.

Fear knot, fearless readers! Buri's ipad will still keep many of us bewildered, puzzled, and entertained for many posts to come. Spell check canknot vanquish The Brivati.

On subject, I'll get Fischer's "Scales" when it is available through US retailers. Not everyone is a fan of paypal.

April 11, 2012 at 12:43 PM · I know what Elise means about Flesch being intimidating (Buri: no snickering!). I open up my Flesch (har!) and I see a lot of stuff that I can't play. Okay ... enough of that.

Seriously, wouldn't it be nice to have a "grown up" scale book (that is, something past Hrimaly) where us amateurs could actually play everything?

But I just can't play everything in Flesch yet. When I was a kid I hated Flesch because of the diminished arpeggio! Now it's the thirds that have me grimacing. I was reminded of this as my daughter got her first "three octave scale" assignment which is the G major scale and the associated arpeggios, in other words, about 1/2 of a page of Flesch.

Which is less than a pound of Flesch. (Apologies to Shakespeare.)

April 11, 2012 at 05:30 PM · I received my Fischer Scale book (along with "Warming up) this morning. I haven't had a chance to play through it yet, but looking at it, it looks like a very thorough book covering many things that most other scale books lack. I'm looking forward to diving into it.

April 12, 2012 at 04:58 PM · I've just ordered mine. I haven't had a scale book for about 40+ years so it will be eye opening. I play scales from memory so it will be interesting to see if my 1.5 brain cells and memory have been able to cope.

Heifetz said he could judge a player just from a scale or two. He also apparently was taken with Mr Perlmann who could play any scale at the drop of a hat. With fingers like that I'm sure he could play them going up and down at the same time.

April 12, 2012 at 10:37 PM · I got mine earlier this week. This is a simply awesome scale book! I would corroborate what Buri said and mention how the part about how to keep your fingers down is terrific, as is the beginning part about intonation and what to listen for. I'm working on some stuff in A major so I'm just working my way through the book and doing everything in A major. This is the best scale book I've encountered yet.

April 13, 2012 at 09:17 AM · Mine's on the way... I really need a scale book I can relate to so I hope you guys are right :)

April 13, 2012 at 04:14 PM · Mine's here already. trying to figure out how to finger out the "gravitational attraction" of the leading note and the third (indicated by the ascending arrow)and the leading note to the lower note indicated by the descending arrow. maybe this deserves a seperate thread

April 14, 2012 at 12:05 AM · greetings,

would it help to think in terms of sexual attraction?




April 14, 2012 at 01:13 AM · Perhaps not Buri,

'scales' and 'sexual attraction' conjur up National Geo-graphic specials on iguanas... :p

.. obviously I'm missing something

April 14, 2012 at 05:38 AM · yep.I know some very sexy iguanas...



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