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The ones who don't practice scales don't play in tune. But I did wonder how many people were mystified by the Galamian scale system, so I will share with you what I shared with him. Yes, I practice these scales, I teach these scales and I highly recommend them.
Here's the reason: The Galamian scales not only work the left hand, laying an intonation foundation in every possible position on the violin, but they provide a daily outlet for working on bowing techniques and problem-solving as well. There's another reason: Galamian scales are what will keep you playing when you are And another: They will help you avoid injury.
I never met Ivan Galamian nor do I agree with everything idea he had or edition he made but I am grateful for the wisdom of his scales, as taught to me by three wonderful teachers and Galamian proteges: Jim Maurer of the University of Denver, the late Conny Kiradjieff of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and Gerardo Ribeiro of Northwestern University.
I will tell you mostly about the three-octave scales, from Volume 1 , as this is a good starting point. This is not to diminish the importance of the arpeggios in Volume 1 and the double- and multiple-stop scales in Volume 2. The three-octave scales each begin and end with a turn for example, G major begins with G-B-A-G before ascending, and it ends the same way. This serves two purposes; First, playing the third of the scale immediately sets the left hand with fingers over the fingerboard, so that you are simply dropping fingers, instead of flying at the fingerboard.
Second, it makes the math work — more on that later. As for fingerings, in general, you can start each scale on a first finger, or on a second finger. I pretty much start them all on a first finger.
I've come to view it as a brilliant idea. Because mastering scales this way allows the left fingers to learn spacing for every possible position on the violin. Yes, start a Bb major scale in second position, shift to fourth or fifth position, and then to seventh.
The left hand learns its mold for each position. Here is how I put into practice: Set your metronome on 60 — a beat per second. Start with half notes, two beats on every note of the scale, breathing deeply, using the full length of the bow, aiming for purity of intonation and purity of tone no glitches in the bow.
Proceed to quarter notes, two to a bow, keeping the free and open feeling and purity in the bow arm. Then: eighth notes, four to a bow; triplets, six to a bow; 16ths, eight to a bow; sextuplets, twelve to a bow. This is where the math comes in, those turns at the beginning and end of the scale allow for the maximum rhythmic divisions.
Did you get all that? If not, most of it is written out on page 5 of Volume 1 the slower tempi are something I do, not written there. It's written out for a G-major three-octave scale, but the idea is to use it for all the scales. Scale work is anything but boring, if you are concentrating. Here are a few aims for your scales: perfect intonation; tidy shifting; absolute bow control and purity of tone; rhythmic precision in left hand; relaxed bow arm; full bows, frog to tip; stillness of the left hand; shifting with the entire hand; and the list goes on.
Once you can play a three-octave scale, you can put it in your service for right-hand work. For example, try an acceleration exercise with spiccato. Do you have the control to do one bounce precisely each second? Try it. In some ways, the slow tempi require more control than does the sautille. And by the way, can you control the speed of your sautille? You should. Can you play at that tempo that is between spiccato and sautille?
Try six strokes per second. This can be a challenge. Other ideas: You can play this scale with up-bow or down-bow staccato. You can play it with dotted rhythms.
How's your ricochet? Try going up the scale, metronome on, two to a beat, three to a beat, four to a beat.
Maybe you discover you have a weakness; for example, in playing Tchaik 4 you find that your pizzicato is weak and out of control. Do a pizzicato acceleration scale. Better yet, do pizzicato in rhythms. Sure, practice the passage, but if that's not doing the trick, you can use the scale for some basic training.
For me, scale time is foundation time for the left-hand, and it's problem-solving time for the bow arm. I don't watch the clock when I work on scales. Sometimes I just do one simple acceleration exercise — five minutes on scales. Sometimes I go through many permutations and introduce something new, and 45 minutes go by before I realize I'm still playing scales.
I'm done when I'm done! The problems change depending on what music I'm playing, be it orchestra music, solo music or chamber music. But by using scales to solve these problems, I can simultaneously practice good, foundational intonation. So yes, practice your scales! And you are welcome to share below how you use Galamian scales; I haven't even touched on the many more ways that you can use these scales and arpeggios.
You can also talk about other scale methods that work for you. Thank's for shedding light on this ones. I can say that I am a disciple of scales. I initially discontinued my violin studies in my third year of college and didn't take any lessons for a dozen years after that before I decided to pursue music seriously as part of a career change.
I have to say on many of those days, it was no more than 15 to 30 minutes and I usually didn't do any more than play a few scales. But I can tell you with absolute certainty that for me, scales were the best investment of a limited amount of practice time and kept my left hand very accurate when I was "in the wilderness". So strong is my belief in scales that I authored my own extension to the scale book pedagogy. Here's the link:. And whatever scale book you choose, you will derive lasting benefit from scales through a lifetime of playing.
The basic scale itself is no different from any other scale manual. I suppose students trying to get a handle on things without clear teacher guidance may be trying to do too much or combine too many things too soon.
In this two octave scale exercise there is actually four dimensions. The fourth can be approached in two ways. One can either use exactly the same spacing between all the fingers and simply move the hand up not so useful or one has to change the relationship between the fingers to conform to the specific key one has chosen.
For this reason the two octave exercise page is ina way even more mentall intense and potentially rewarding than the traditional work in the rest of the book.
The beauty of it is though, that it is not too intimidating to a beginner. Get the differnet keys down as a kind of mental warming up and then get into the mental ecstacy of the acceleration version etc. One can of course play all three octave scales in one key That was a favorite of Jamie Laredo if I recall correctly.
I am always amazed when this first exercise is assumed by even quite advanced players to be preparatory to the later scales and therfore largely ignored. It cheered me up no end to read a Clayton Haslop blog a few years back in which he talked about how he warmed up using these two ocatve scales. K was the G scale. Good times I would highly recommend to anyone! And, this becomes what fundamentally whole body coordination and ear training. What your colleague said is right!
Also, I can say with great confidence, today's leading soloists at least play some sort of scale routine to warm up with! Your blog was very helpful, clear, and inviting. I have never used the Galamian book because I was intimidated, but I'll try it now since you've explained the philosophy of it.
I practice a bunch of scales with variations in bowing, rhythm, and patterns for example thirds. I've written them out for my students. I got the variations partly from other sources and partly from myself. Surprisingly, a very good source is Mel Bay's Fiddling Handbook. It's too complex for beginners.
I agree that playing scales is a great way to learn and practice bowing and other techniques. I use it with my students frequently.
It's about time for me to start doing it myself. Thanks for pushing me over the hump of intimidation. I vow allegiance to the scales presented by Jean-Delphin Alard for similar reasons.
My current teacher grew up on the Flesch and teaches that scale method to me now. You can hear everything in a precise mathematical way and work on it throughout your life. For the acceleration exercises When I was first shown the accel I guess to me the acceleration is a test of whether things are in working order.
Galamian - Scales System for Viola
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The Galamian Scale System For Viola (Volume 1)