Hate (edit, Dislike) flesch scales

Edited: December 2, 2017, 11:48 AM · Hi All,

Just a general post on my thoughts on scales, I like playing scales. I play them a lot, but I don't know. just not Flesch. FYI I'm not an advanced player, about intermediate level.Or advanced beginner maybe.

I really like sevcik scales. I play those a lot. I don't play any different bowings or rhythms, i just play plain separate bows, focusing on shifts and intonation. (3 oct)

I think its mainly about the structure, i like that Sevcik has the excercises organized by type of excercise (i.e. arpeggios, 3 octave scale, octaves, thirds etc.) rather than by key.
I like to pick one excercise, say one string apreggios, and play through several or all keys. But with flesch, i try picking a key and playing through, but i never end up playing much. also. I find it much harder than Sevcik for some reason. Dont know why, Everything seems very hard.
Maybe im just not a good enough player (yet) to appreciate/be able to play flesch?
After reading rave reviews I also bought Simon Fischer's Scales, but that was worse than flesch. Its really weird. How it breaks down the scale. Didn't like it at all. But to be fair i didn't try it very hard. Also I am studying on my own without a teacher.
Planning to try Galamian now.
Anyone else like Sevcik?

Replies (22)

November 30, 2017, 2:24 PM · For my students, I prefer Barbara Barber's Scales for Advanced Violinists.
November 30, 2017, 2:27 PM · I think people often introduce Flesch Scales too early. Sounds like it could be the same in your case.

If you're intermediate then Flesch is not for you, unless you're just going to stick to the first 1/2 page of each scale.

Please post a video of your best piece, so I can tell you how advanced you actually are and if you should be considering a particular scale method over another.

November 30, 2017, 2:34 PM · For me, scale book is like a fitness routine -- the good one is the one you like and will stick with. :)
Edited: November 30, 2017, 8:19 PM · Flesch is just one of many. It's popular because a lot of people do prefer the key organisation. As long as your preferred system covers all the necessary technical skills, it shouldn't be a problem.

November 30, 2017, 8:50 PM · Honestly a lot of people use Flesch just for the fingerings of the 3-octave scales and arpeggios. There are lots of other ways to get those. Barbara Barber's scale book is very good. If you're just doing all your scales detache, you're missing a lot of what scales can teach you. Ask your teacher to show you how to do "Galamian acceleration" with slurs.
Edited: December 1, 2017, 5:58 AM · I have went trough the Flesh scales quite a few times, one scale per day, but almost never 2 cycles of 24 scales in a row.... why? First of all, one has to warm up well before even starting with scales on 1 string. Depending on the key, Flesh sometimes rigidly wrote a scale on 1 strings very, very high on the fingerboard. It seems to me that he, or his assistant used piano to write those scales!
Second, double stops in minor scales are sometimes (again) rigidly written always using the same fingering, when common sense and the anatomy of human hand would lead to more appropriate one.
Flesh to me is like a check-point... I come back to its scales occasionally and am surprised to hear progress when progress was in fact acquired elsewhere.
I would rather say "dislike" than "hate" - the later is to strong a word. If you repeat it often, it may become a habit and then behaviour.
December 1, 2017, 12:13 AM · For most of my students the Barber scale book is completely sufficient, only those who want to pursue a performance career (a tiny number) profit from Flesch. I do wish Barbara Barber had included doublestop scales in minor keys.
Edited: December 1, 2017, 1:11 AM · Hi,

I think that part of the problem is that people misunderstand why Flesch wrote the scales and how to practice them. He explained the ideas behind the Scale System in his Art of Violin Playing.

The Scale System was meant as an arrival point for one who had completed Sevick Op. 8, 9, 1 (all 4 books) and Opus 2 (bowing exercises). The shifting and complexities of technique were already mastered and the Scale System is used as a maintenance.

Also, the scales are meant to be practiced in two ways. First slowly, with all intermediate notes planned (and actually heard to make sure they, and the shifts are in tune), and then rapidly. I guess the normal slow-to-fast correlation associated with slow practice. If you actually practice them in the way he recommend, they become easier in my humble experience. For myself, I don't do all of it, but usually do one of the Flesch #5 per day (3 octaves stuff), and then regular scales in double-stops and find it doable and useful doing it the way he suggests.

Hope this helps shed light on the Flesch scales...


December 1, 2017, 1:32 AM · I tend to agree with Yixi on this. I don't think it matters as much which scale system you attach yourself to, as long as you consistently practice it.

If they were no good they wouldn't be popular.

Edited: December 1, 2017, 12:09 PM · It sounds like your expectation and desires about playing the violin may be the issue, and not the scales.

We're supposed to neither "like" nor "not like" scales. Scales aren't supposed to be musically satisfying or enjoyable. Their sole purpose is to utilize them to improve. They are simply tools. I only had this revelation in conservatory. As a high school student, of course I detested them. Everyone does.

It's like saying "I hate pipe wrenches." So? It's a tool. If you want to fix the pipe, you need the tool.
You're not supposed to like tools. We need them to fix things.

In order to tolerate scales and change your mentality, here is what you need:

1. a systematic method of practicing them. That means groups and rhythms.
2. a clearly-defined goal for each scale. For me that means playing quickly with no stumbles, in tune and with good shifts (if necessary), and slurring the entire scale.
3. a clearly defined practice routine. It's like working out: I hate running. But I do it anyway, and I'm used to a routine of doing it.

"I like to pick one excercise, say one string apreggios, and play through several or all keys."

This tells me you have no method or system of studying them.

I think if you lack a methodical approach or a teacher that can give you one, and are just randomly attacking scales, or trying to figure out what you like rather than what will help you improve, then it's likely you will continue to hate them. And so you will likely not improve in music that has scalar or arpeggiated passages. Which is like 90% of all music.

Flesch is good for those who are comfortable shifting in the highest positions. If you aren't, then they are not for you. Hopefully you have been working with a positions book such as "Introducing the Positions."
Otherwise you are beating your head against a wall. Flesch is NOT for the advanced beginner.

It sounds like you don't have a teacher and are trying to be self-taught. If that's the case, then this might be the issue.

December 1, 2017, 9:59 AM · I also dislike the Flesch book, and actually got rid of it. The optimum fingering depends on the context; rhythm and bowing matter.
To discover that just try to do a three octave scale in both dotted and reverse-dotted rhythm with the same fingering. If you look at the first violin parts to Tchaikovsky symphonies you see that a lot of those scale passages are not normal major scales.
December 1, 2017, 10:27 AM · Scott's comments are right on. If you don't like pipe wrenches, you don't understand the trade you are in or how to use tools. If you don't do push ups, you won't get strong triceps.

The Flesch Scale System can help any level violinist, even a beginner, but one has to know how to use the many tools in the book. Just like plumbing, masters teach apprentices. If people could pick up a violin and instantly perform concerto solos, the book would not exist. So get a teacher, if you want to get good.

A small bit of teaching for Sandeep, as a beginner - play the #5 scales (only, no arpeggios, yet) for 2 octaves. Always use a metronome. Focus successively on: 1. intonation, 2. smooth shifting while maintaining intonation, 3. different rhythms and bowings at a metronome setting of 60, 4. combining 1,2,&3. Over the course of 12 to 18 months, do all 12 keys major & minor. Then repeat for 3 octaves plus arpeggios. If this kind of 'push up' doesn't engage you, then you are in the wrong sport. These are 'push ups' to build skills that you will use in many different ways in a performance. After you do these pushups, you can move up to bench presses, and on and on. The tools and exercises never end.

December 1, 2017, 12:16 PM · The Flesch scales will NOT help "any level" especially the beginner. They need first to just learn where the half steps are and internalize major and minor patterns.

The first sections go into the very highest positions on each string, and the 3 octaves go to the top of the E string. That's why we use the Hrimaly scales.

And I disagree that you should always use a metronome on scales. this is counterproductive when you are working on intonation and trying to nail shifts. Using a metronome will force one to stay with the metronome to the detriment of the intonation and shifts. Just look at how many students are unable to get the big shifts on the arpeggios. Why? Because they are used to playing through the whole scale without stopping. Therefore, the shift never gets fixed. Is a metronome useful? Eventually. But you don't need it on all the time. You are better building the scale from smaller to larger groupings. When you play just two notes at a time, you have time to analyze what you just did. When you have to keep with a metronome, you don't. The number one reason people fail to improve is that they KEEP GOING without thinking about what happened and stopping to fix it.

December 1, 2017, 8:01 PM · Really useful.point about the metronome Scott. Indeed, when i want to work on intonation, on shifting, on the mechanics of the bowing within an etude or the piece im working on, the metronome isnt useful there...it would get in the way. Even sometimes just playing a piece entirely without a metronome to focus on the fluidity of the piece. But of course, the metronome has its crirical place...but not dw facto everywhere
December 1, 2017, 8:40 PM · The great thing about Fischer's "Scales" book is that he shows you what you should be working on inside the scales, and how to do it. I find metronome work is good for grooving passages (including scales) once you've got them comfortably in your hands. The metronome is also good for showing you where you've got a weak spot that needs more work (with the metronome off, usually).
Edited: December 1, 2017, 10:18 PM · Fischer's Scales and Double Stops are great. Apparently he has also synthesized many other scale books. For instance, recently he pointed out that some double stops (4ths, 2nds, etc) excluded from his book can be found in Yost's Key to the Mastery of Double Stopping. I ordered it right away and now I'm using it as a supplement to Flesch. It's great! In a thin book of less than 50 pages, he spells out ways you can practice 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 6ths, octaves, 10ths, unisons, with all kinds of (as many as 9!) fingerings. Once you've learned to play with different fingerings on same notes (Fischer calls it "uniformed intonation"), you can work on any keys you like with more freedom. Very elegant indeed.

For as little as $9, one can learn so much. I used Yost's book on shifting many years ago and also have benefited a lot. You can find all Yost's books here, managed by his 84 year old son Gaylord Yost.

December 2, 2017, 10:31 AM · Thanks for the replies all.

@Erik Williams : Yeah maybe i'm just not advanced enough. I never play the first page. I start from excercise no 5. But i feel its more about the structure as i said. I play sevcik 3 octave stuff fine. But the arpeggios and other excercises are quite hard. I dont know what fingering to use. even on the chromatics.

@Rocky Milankov: you're right 'Hate' is too strong a word. :/ sorry, i guess I really meant 'dislike'

@Christian Vachon: Thanks. ok yes i;'ve heard that Flesch is meant for advanced players. Im not very advanced at all .barely out of diapers.. in terms of violin playing.

@Scott Cole: Thank you. I see your point. I am rather disorganized in my routine and practice. But Its not that i hate scales' rather. I like playing them a lot. In fact I play more scales than music. But you are right in that i am just studying on my own these days. I have had some teachers. briefly. but have mostly been working on my own.

@Mike Laird: Thanks for the response. I only play no. 5 onwards. As i said, Its the structure I dislike. I love playing scales. I never use a metronome though. I don't know. I might be delusional but i feel my sense of timing is alright without a metronome. except for maybe weird rhythms and syncopated bits of music.

@Yixi Zhang: Ah yes I dont play double stops much. I should because of the structure. I guess. Thanks. I think i should just stick to sevcik for now :) But want to try Galamian. I love that 'turn' he has in the scales. Sounds really nice..

December 2, 2017, 1:03 PM · I recommend trying to be able to do every 2 octave scale - major, minor, harmonic minor, melodic minor - by ear before messing with any scale method.

Start with all the major scales: g major, then a-flat major, a-major, b-flat major, b major, and so on.

Listen for the pattern with your ear and only use 1,2,3,4 (never skip a finger number on the way up or on the way down).

Just like etude books aren't that helpful until you've gotten a grasp of basic technique, scale books aren't helpful until you know how to do every basic scale with detache bows.

December 2, 2017, 1:43 PM · Have you tried Barbara Barber's Scales for Young Violinists?

I know you are not a "young" violinist and might resent the title but in my view, it isn't geared towards children. It is basically Barbara Barber's Scales for Intermediate Violinists.

Edited: December 3, 2017, 9:44 AM · @Erik Williams. Thanks for the response. I can play all 3 octave scales by ear.

@Kiki White. Thanks for the suggestion. I haven't heard of Barber. Will look into it.

December 3, 2017, 12:07 PM · I have really enjoyed Kerstin Wartberg's book, Enjoying Violin Technique. Especially the way it breaks down the Flesch scales on 1 string (exercises 1-4). It also includes some very nice accompaniments for most of the exercises.
December 3, 2017, 1:52 PM · Totally agree with Eric. I also think a lot of people introduce Flesch way too early. I also agree that 2-octave scales before 3-octave scales makes sense.

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