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Tips & Tricks: Fun With Scales, Part II

violin and notesYou love practicing your scales, right? Ok, maybe not. Do you find that sometimes your brain turns off while you are working on them? After all, the pattern remains that same, and if is easy to get into the habit of playing the same scales in the same order. There is really no use in practicing scales if you are not maintaining focus. To help keep my focus, by keeping it interesting, I like to mix things up a bit. I have two different ways of doing this: the random method and the pick a scale method.

The Random Method

  1. Open a book of fiddle tunes (or book of etudes) to a random page
  2. Determine the key of the first tune you lay eyes on
  3. Play the scale in that key
  4. For an added sight-reading bonus, play the fiddle tune or etude
  5. Repeat from step one a few times

The Pick a Scale Method

  1. Cut up small pieces of paper, each with a key on it (A major, E minor, etc.)
  2. Put these pieces of paper into a container
  3. Pick one piece of paper out of the container
  4.  Play the scale in that key
  5. Repeat from step 3

If you want to work through various keys, keep a second container in your practice room so you can put the keys you have already practiced in that container and continue working your way through all of the keys.
For added fun:

  1. Cut up small pieces of paper with different bowings on them (one note per bow, two notes per bow, three notes per bow, four notes per bow, all staccato, one note separate and three notes slurred, two eighths notes on every note, or any other pattern you can come up with)
  2. Put these pieces of paper in a second container
  3. Pick one piece of paper from each container. You should have one key and one bowing pattern.
  4. Play the scale in the key of picked with the bowing
  5. Repeat from number 3

photo credit: midiman via photopin cc

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