Want to take your scale practice up a notch? Part 2 of How To Practice Scales for Advanced Violinists.
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.
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.
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):
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).
Tip for sub-dividing even septuplets: I think 2+2+3.
Tip for sub-dividing nines: I think 3+3+3.
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.
In addition to sub-divisions, you can incorporate different bowing combinations of slurs and separate bows.
A few examples:
Be creative and challenge yourself!
For example, you can try 3 slurred + 1 separate (starting either down-bow or up-bow!).
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.
If you're stuck on ideas or want a different challenge, incorporate bowings that are found inside your repertoire.
Scales can get as creative and as challenging as you want!
P.S. Register for my free workshop: The 3 Surprising Secrets That Help Violinists Ace Auditions, Supercharge Their Practice, AndUnlock Effortless Technique, in which I reveal three important and powerful strategies that have helped me take my violin playing to the next level!
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