2 octave scales vs. 3 octave scales
Did I imagine it, or did someone here say they thought 3-octave scales were over-rated?
I don't have any opinion. Some examining boards ask for G and A in 3 octaves, but, at that level, Barbara Barber seems to stick to 2 octaves.
You need 3-octave scales if you're going to play up to 6th position and above. etc.
Reminds me of a piece of music I've got which tells you to use your first finger to play a low A. Useful advice.
On the cello 4, or even 5, octaves are an option. That's for the standard 4-string cello – anyone for 6 octaves on a 5-string cello? :).
Its not, however, a case of 'graduating' from two to three octave scales; they really are different species with their own challenges/benefits. As mentioned above, the latter help you access the upper reaches of the fingerboard but the (first position) former teach you about the relationships between the strings; something that is essential at all positions and are terrific for working on string changes. Note also that first position scales are in someway the most difficult for accurate intonation because the distance between the digit placements are the greatest. I should add that that may be hand size dependent, perhaps if your hand is very large the first position is easy whereas scrunching the fingers together at the top of the fingerboard is difficult.
There are so many different ways to finger the scales. The one or two patterns that are printed in your scale book are inadequate for real life. Ideal fingering varies with the musical context; rhythm and bowing. Two specific complaints that I have about the conventional printed scales, that I rarely use in real music; 1) starting on the second finger on the G string; that puts a half-step on the first string change. 2) The 4-4-4 round-trip at the top of the scale. Default fingering pattern #1, that you can play from memory at an audition or test: Stay in 1st position until you get to the E-string, then 1-2-1-2 until you get near the top, then finish with whatever fingers are left over.
I don't think you can say one kind of scale is "better" than the other.
Joel, starting a scale on the second finger does have the advantage that the finger pattern is very simple: all whole notes between the fingers. But yes, you have to stretch back the first finger. However when observing many good violinists I notice that their first finger often seems to be stretched back almost by default, just from doing that so often :-)
I have said many times that 3-octave scales are overrated.
I have been doing the Galamian 3-octave scales (4, 6, 8, 12, 16, 24 notes/bow) daily for the past month or so. I enjoy the various challenges it presents, and my bowing (and shifting, intonation, etc.) have improved tremendously.
Pretty much anything is overrated if you do it to the exclusion of other wholesome and necessary things.
Guess I'm the only one who regularly practises 4 octave scales...
I've always felt that if you practice 3-octave scales all around the circle of fifths (I'm looking at you, Fsharp major) then you've probably got all the notes you need.... ;)