How to Practice Scales - For Advanced Violinists

Want to take your scale practice up a notch? Part 2 of How To Practice Scales for Advanced Violinists.

Why Do We Practice Scales on the Violin?

In my previous blog, I talked about the 7 Things To Do When Practicing Scales. There, I established why scales are the backbone of all repertoire and how you get to train your technique on the violin, specifically: position changes, intonation, hand frame, fluency, accuracy, speed and all things that make you a more consistent and more confident violinist.

Violin Scale Exercises to Try Today

In this blog, we will start to add more challenges and advanced exercises that really begin to test your agility, bow distribution, rhythm, coordination between your left hand and bow, and your bow technique.

Acceleration-Deceleration Violin Exercises

Slurred Subdivisions:

After practicing scales with long tones on separate bows, ensuring that you are building good sound quality with each bow, start to slur multiple notes per bow.

I usually do this with the metronome set at Quarter = 52, something I learned in in my summer studying with violin pedagogue Kurt Sassmannshaus at the Aspen Music Festival.

While continually listening for sympathetic vibrations and aiming for excellent intonation, (read more in Part 1: How To Practice Scales), I start slurring in one bow the following rhythmic sub-divisions (all with metronome):


Violin Scaling Exercises - Triplets


Violin Scale Exercises - Fours


Violin Scale Exercises - Fives

Tip for sub-dividing even quintuplets: I think 3+2 (or you could think 2+3, or think Da-la-pic-co-la... Da-la-pic-co-la).


Violin Scale Exercises - Sixes


Violin Scale Exercises - Sevens

Tip for sub-dividing even septuplets: I think 2+2+3.


Violin Scale Exercises - Eights


Violin Scale Exercises - Nines

Tip for sub-dividing nines: I think 3+3+3.


Violin Scale Exercises - Twelves

Tip for sub-dividing twelves: I think 4+4+4.

Using this sequence, you can progressively train your speed and agility.

Remember, as you get faster and faster, it’s important to keep the fingers light.

Tip: The faster you go, the lighter your finger pressure can be on the fingerboard.

After practicing these sub-division/acceleration exercises, challenge yourself to reverse the sequence, moving through the subdivisions:

12, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

This accelerating-decelerating subdivision exercise is great for challenging your rhythmic sub-divisions and inner pulse.

Practice Different Bowing Patterns

In addition to sub-divisions, you can incorporate different bowing combinations of slurs and separate bows.

A few examples:

  • Two Slurred + Two Separate:
Violin Bowing Patterns

  • Two Separate + Two Slurred:
Violin Bowing Patterns

Be creative and challenge yourself!

For example, you can try 3 slurred + 1 separate (starting either down-bow or up-bow!).

Practice Different Bow Strokes

You may also practice your scales using various bow strokes:

For example, any bow technique such as martelé, staccato, spiccato, sautillé, detaché, up-bow or down-bow staccato, flying staccato, etc.

  • Spiccato/Sautillé:
Violin Bow Strokes - Spiccato

  • Ricochet:
Violin Bow Strokes - Ricochet
Violin Bow Strokes = Ricochet

If you're stuck on ideas or want a different challenge, incorporate bowings that are found inside your repertoire.

Violin Bowing
Violin Bowings

Scales can get as creative and as challenging as you want!

P.S. Register for my free workshop: The 3 Violin Secrets, in which I reveal three important and powerful strategies that have helped me take my violin playing to the next level!  

How to Practice Like A Ninja

Download my free 'How To Practice Like A Ninja' Quickstart Guide here and discover the common practice mistakes you might be making!

Violin Practice Guide

Let me know how your practice goes and if these tips are helpful by sharing this post and leaving a comment on Facebook or Instagram

If you'd like to know how to work privately with me, book a free call with me on my calendar.

Categories: Practice Strategies, Violin Technique, Violin Tutorials