How to practice Scales

Scales... why??

Practicing scales is maybe the best warming up before you start playing / practicing.
It is also considered the most boring thing to do, so many skip it whenever possible 😁.

Why is it so important?
First of all because this is a great technical study, where you can put all your focus on all aspects of playing violin, like
- Intonation
- Posture
- Bow technique
- String changes
- Smooth position changes (for the advanced)...
It is also the best warming up before you start playing your concert, or starting your practice.
Above that, it connects you to the key you will be playing in: Say you are going to play a piece in the key of D, playing the D-scale first will give you the notes of that piece so they are set in your mind.

Why is studying scales so boring?
I can only give you one answer to that, it lacks challenge.
Let's work on that one, make scales practice challenging and fun!

The best (and fun) way to study scales

I have a great, challenging and fun way to study scales.
Let's dive in!

First of all, close any book you have open. 

We won't be using them with scales.
I believe that if you are reading from sheet music, a great deal of your focus will lie there.
We want to put ALL our focus on what we are doing, so that's the main reason to practice technical skills without books.

- Step 1
So let's start with a long bow on an open string, as slow as you want, use the entire bow, back and forth, in regular bow movements.
When you have a clean smooth bowing movement, then start with down-bow on open string, the next up-bow place the first finger, on each bow change, play 1 note higher, (= the scale.).
When you start on open D for example, that is then the root note.
Play until the note D again and then go back down to the open D.

- Step 2
With the same bow-movement we will place 2 notes on 1 bow. (The scale will be played twice as fast this way).

- Step 3
Adding a note to the bow-stroke, we get 3 notes per bow, scale going 3 times faster than the first one.
Note that the bow-speed remains the same all the time, the only changes are in the left hand.

- Step  4; 5; 6; ...
You can continue for as many notes per bow as you can manage.
remember, 1 note = 1 round; 2 notes = 2 rounds; 3 notes = 3 rounds etc. (as shown in the examples above).

This will challenge you to reach "higher scores" and builds up your technique immensely.

You can make variations like playing portato / staccato instead of legato...

The Video

Let me show you how this works in this video:

About the author
My name is Xander Nichting, violinist (Classical / Modern), composer, arranger and teacher. I am author of the new violin method Creative Violin, from which I am teaching for about 4 years at this time. I am absolutely thrilled to see teachers all over the world starting to teach from this method because of its versatility. With this method and my online community I inspire students of all ages, 6-80+, to follow their dream and getting much joy from playing violin. Get creative, change your life is my motto. Playing violin does just that!
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