Practice tips for playing a 3-octave run, e.g. final measures of Debussy String Quartet

September 19, 2019, 4:45 PM · I struggle with various ways to learn to play three or more octave runs fast, such as in the first movement of the Schubert cello quintet, or the last measures of the Debussy String Quartet, op. 10. I would like to hear suggestions for practicing these runs.

Replies (11)

September 19, 2019, 7:34 PM · Practice using groups and rhythms. Also known as "acceleration" technique: as you build larger and larger groups of notes, you are playing them faster. Very fast and efficient way to learn fast passage work.

Send me an email and I will send you (and anyone else) a list of groupings and rhythms that will do what you need.

September 20, 2019, 3:41 AM · Well, I would enjoy receiving such a list, but I don't know how to email you. :)
September 20, 2019, 3:50 AM · Anita, if you click on Scott's name, there's a button which says "CONTACT" Click on it, and it'll take you through to email :)
September 20, 2019, 4:47 AM · On my device, it was a broken link...
Edited: September 20, 2019, 7:07 AM · Thank you Scott. Yes I would like to get your list. As with others, the email link with your name does not seem to be working. When I google your name, I get to Scott Cole Photography in the UK. Is that you? Mari
September 20, 2019, 10:58 AM · Mari,
try or
I'll email you back
Edited: September 20, 2019, 8:59 PM · Having performed the Debussy in a professional string quartet on many occasions the solution is simply to start the scale sooner than marked. No Problem then. It will not help to practice in rhythms, etc. Bruce
September 23, 2019, 10:30 PM · Bruce,
You're wrong. Because you're a professional.

Professionals already have evenness in their fingers, and such common road bumps as string crossings and shifts don't present problems to them. But even such things as first-position scales present issues to non-professionals: the fingers themselves, even without shifting, are simply not even.

While you are correct in that starting fast scales early is a great way to "cheat," you may be forgetting that you have skills that others do not. This is where groups and rhythms is necessary.

September 24, 2019, 7:33 PM · Prayer may help. :-)
September 25, 2019, 3:46 PM · Prayer doesn't help passagework...
A methodical approach does.
September 27, 2019, 11:49 AM · Mari not contradicting Scott, just adding that the idea for such fast scales is that the end goal is for a group of notes in one position to feel like one single movement. For example take a 1-octave scale in one position starting with the first finger. You can think of the first four notes to be a single movement of the hand, and the same for the last four notes. These groups can become extremely fast, just one gesture where the four fingers are directed to the string each arriving just a split second after the one before. Then you work on the transition between the two groups, which involves lifting the first finger during doing the first group gesture (effectively modifying that gesture) and placing it on the next string so that a clean connection can be made. This also involves the bow of course as it has to cross to the other string. In the end the entire 1-octave scale is just one single gesture. The same principle can go for multiple octaves but now the connections between the groups are done by shifts. These connections can be practiced to get them very fast, with the goal to join the groups and their connections increasingly into bigger and bigger single gestures. The final goal is that the final 3-octave scale is just one large gesture for body and brain. This is of course the theory, which is always easier said than done! But I do think this theory is correct, although people may want to correct me.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Violin Finder
Yamaha Violin Finder

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Joshua Bell and the Los Angeles Philharmonic
Joshua Bell and the Los Angeles Philharmonic

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition
Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Potter Violins

Pro-Am Strings

Violin Lab

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop