Looking for advice on scales.

January 8, 2015 at 02:07 AM · I am a relative beginner (Suzuki books 3 & 4) who currently does not have a teacher.

I was noodling around in practice the other day, trying to work on my intonation and I started practicing by going up and down an octave on a single string in whole steps and half steps using a tuning app on my iphone to make sure that I am playing in tune.

I do this with long slow strokes on each string, starting in the first position and then shifting to the 4th position. I have found that it has helped with developing my vibrato, shifting , and intonation.

My question for v.com folks is whether this is a reasonable/good use of time compared to simply doing 2-3 octave scales in specific keys. I don't do it instead of, but in addition to.

Replies (22)

January 8, 2015 at 02:16 AM · Greetings,

Absolutely! Highly recommended! The bestpractic emethod in my opinion is to forget the tuner and do it with hooked bowings. This means you play the first note and imagine the second in your head. Then play the secon in the same bow stroke. then repeat the second note on the up bow, imagine and play the third note, then repeat the third note on a down bow and imagine and then play the fourth note. etc.

Use opens trings as your intonation guide not the tuner.

Do this with first second, third and fourth fingers with all doffferent scales on one string plus arpeggios.

When you do the first finger one keep the upper fingers close to the string. As an altenrative practice method have the fourth finger resting lightly on the octave position on the above string,

Cheers,

buri

January 8, 2015 at 04:24 AM · I think for book 3 and 4 level you have already done some shifts and hopefully instruction on that, so one finger scales are fine. At first they dont have to be a whole octave, watch your hand position some and dont tolerate tension. I agree with Buri to turn off the tuner.

January 8, 2015 at 05:02 AM · Grreetings,

soRory to respectfully disagree Paul. I think the OP can and should be doing at least an ovtave.. I t hunk this is an essential way for beginners to get an extensive knowledge of the fingerboard outside the limited purview of 'staying in th eositions you know.' That's why I introduce this technique to students very early on.

cheers,

Buri

January 8, 2015 at 08:42 AM · I totally agree. One finger scales of at least an octave using each finger on its own is the best ear training you can get, and is also good for shifting technique, from on note to the next. It must be smooth and realxed with no pressure.

I keep repeating this with no apologies - "putting each finger dowm i.e. 1.2.3.4 - by-passes the ear as we think distances and not pitch."

That is a sort of quote from the late and great Ruggerio Ricci from his book "Ricci on Glissando."

P S I've just referenced the book and he exactly says :

"When moving from one note to the next using the same finger, we must rely on the ear... by contrast , putting down the next finger is merely an approximation - not a measurement."

January 8, 2015 at 12:06 PM ·

January 8, 2015 at 05:14 PM · Thanks so much for all of the helpful advice. I am glad that my instincts were starting me on the right track.

Yes, I know I need to stop using the tuner as a crutch, but it has been very helpful to me in training my ear to recognize pitch and how to play more correctly in whatever key I am in. Thanks for the friendly push. :)

Liz - I appreciate the recommendations for the Yost shifting exercises. I will definitely check them out.

January 8, 2015 at 07:39 PM · The OP says "on each string, starting in the first position and then shifting to the 4th position." which to me means fingers in sequence only shifting once. Buri and Paul, are you saying to use one finger shifting to each note as in one finger scales and not sequential fingers?

Forinstance, on the G string, use the first finger to play A, slide up to B with that same finger and so on? then for the next scale use the second finger, slide to the next note in the scale, then the next and so on?

January 8, 2015 at 07:53 PM · Grretings,

yes. very much so.

sorry I went off st a tangent. but one string scales with all manner of fingers such as the op is trying are also good.

A word for thr the Oo. tuner will not teach you intonation of keys. Learn your intonation by chrcking all the gdaes withe the open strings. first and foremost the violin must be in tune with itself.

cheers

buri

January 9, 2015 at 01:06 AM · Buri - Thanks for all of your great advice. Yes, I will definitely practice going up and down the fingerboards in a variety of ways.

I had ducked responding much to the tuner comments, since it is terrible manners to ask for advice and then disagree with some of it. :)

... but since you have mentioned it again...

I understand your point. I often check the 4th finger GDA against the open strings when I practice. One of the reasons why I started practicing the single string scales in the first place was to hear the different colors of the same note played on different strings.

That said, before I picked up the violin 3 years ago, I had only an elementary instruction in voice and no other instruments whatsoever. So, to a significant degree, I am still learning what "in tune" should sound like for many notes.

Testing the open string against the 4th finger is doable, but I am not yet at a level where I am confident in my ability to consistently recognize a b sharp vs a b natural (for example). I have read that it is good to try and correct mistakes immediately, and having the tuner viewable when I am playing helps with that.

So I use the tuner when I am using scales, but I believe that it has helped me to "bootstrap" into better training my ear.

That said, I take your point that it will be better when I no longer need the tuner and agree that I should take your advice and start weaning myself from it over the next few weeks or months.

January 9, 2015 at 02:21 AM · Greetings,

but you can check the third fingers as well can`t you?

Cheers,

Buri

January 9, 2015 at 03:59 AM · ;^)

January 9, 2015 at 04:18 AM · Sure, if you can do an octave without strain, absolutely, do it!

January 9, 2015 at 04:48 AM · Sal,

You can check the other notes with open strings and listen for the intervals and "beats".

January 9, 2015 at 07:59 AM · Mendy - Is this what you mean? You can play in tune without a chromatic tuner: Ringing tones explained

January 9, 2015 at 01:08 PM · The thing is that Heifetz and all of his mates around the early part of the 20C had no possibility of using a tuner. They used their lugholes (i.e. ears).

And most of them were pretty stunning players with pretty accurate intonation.

The problem with a tuner is that it tells you if you are sharp or flat, but do you know if you are sharp or flat? It's really just a sort of dodgy crutch.

January 9, 2015 at 01:24 PM · The reality is that not everybody has the same musical talent: many people cannot just sing or hum a scale in tune. So they use a tuner to help them correct themselves and learn do it. Such use of a tuner has nothing to do with the violin specifically but it is useful if you don't have the innate musical talent of recognizing in-tune or out-of-tune notes in a scale.

January 9, 2015 at 01:57 PM ·

January 9, 2015 at 02:06 PM ·

January 9, 2015 at 10:09 PM · hi Liz, just for the record, I get the feeling you were reprimanding me for suggesting that people who have difficulties with recognizing in- or out-of-tune notes in a scale cannot learn this by training. but I was not at all suggesting that, on the contrary, I was defending the use of the tuner as a aid in precisely that training. clearly you may disagree with me on the usefulness of a tuner, but you cannot disagree with me on the possibility of training to acquire the required skills, since we both think this can be trained.

January 9, 2015 at 10:39 PM ·

January 9, 2015 at 11:34 PM · Greetings,

I think the OP could usefully buy a copy of Fischer's scale manual which goes right from the beginning with co

ear and précis technila instructions for the most basic scales onwards to professional level.

Asfar as tune dis concerned, consider using a drone.

Cheers,

Buri

January 9, 2015 at 11:59 PM · Liz - I very much agree that ascribing musical achievement to talent is not very useful. Yes, I can sing in tune but I am much more likely to be able to reproduce an accurate note on command with my violin than my voice. I am going to practice the way that you are suggesting and will probably get the scales book that Buri recommended. For now, I will be doing a mix of "by ear" versus "tuner" since my insecurity about recognizing when I am in tune is very well founded. :)

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