When a teacher mentioned that her student wasn't allowed to play O Come Little Children because of religious reasons and asked about an alternative piece, I wrote this piece as an option that still teaches many of the same techniques: string crossing, slow and fast bows, etc.
O Come Little Children, in Suzuki Book One for Violin (or Viola, or Cello), is also a Christmas carol and some teachers may be looking for a substitute when students or parents request it. Or, Spring Melody (below) can be used as a supplemental piece in addition to O Come Little Children when students need more work on these skills. Beginning violin, viola and cello adult students can enjoy this free piece as well!
Spring Melody - Free Sheet Music for Violin
Spring Melody - Free Sheet Music for Viola
Spring Melody - Free Sheet Music for Cello
I love the fact that scales are such a great vehicle for learning different skills on the viola! Scales can and should be much more than just playing notes in order in a particular key in a particular set of places on the viola; they can also be used for learning rhythm and bowing skills.
Today in the blog, we're going to focus on using a simple C major scale to work on viola bowing. Now, the possibilities here are endless. I could start writing today and never ever reach the end of variations I could make with this scale. But there are other books to write and so I will stop at 15 pages for this little booklet. Of course, I'll probably come back every once in awhile with another blog post on scales; scale variations are a bit of a passion of mine!
Scales are helpful because they are so predictable. You know what's coming and the notes (at least in these scale pages) are fairly easy. But that doesn't mean you should turn off reading and play from memory just yet; I have some breaks in the pattern built into these scale pages to help keep your attention while you play.
Scale variations are a perfect way to multitask. Variations are a great way to train your left and right hands to be more coordinated and also a great way to make your practice even more efficient; you're working on multiple skills at once!
Feel free to make variations on the variations! Boredom lets you turn your brain off and can be the opening for building bad habits! Viola technique should never be taken for granted; every minute of your practice should be spent actively trying to improve. Varying the exercises can help you stay focused. I play different pages of scale exercises every day (that's one reason why I had to write so many books!) These variations can be played on any scale but they're simplest on a 2-octave scale that starts on an open string.
A storm was headed our way...
with a projected 6-12 inches of snow! We packed the rented Ford Expedition with books and displays (thanks to amazing glassmaker John Koutsouros!) and headed out early Wednesday morning. My mom (Judy Harvey) was going to fly but we knew the flights would be canceled so she came along for the ride.
The ride was rough for a few hours but around the time we hit Virginia, things started looking sunny.
We stopped for lunch/dinner at a delicious Mexican restaurant.
El Restaurante Ixtapa deserved every good Yelp review it got;
the fish tacos were to die for.
When we pulled into the Hyatt Regency Atlanta,
we were absolutely exhausted and ready to sleep. However, there were only two single beds for three people. The Hyatt Regency Atlanta said they couldn't bring in a cot because of the fire codes and suggested that one person sleep on the floor. (Bear in mind that none of this was told to us at booking.) You never know what you'll get when you travel!
Anyway, Myanna headed out the next day to get an air mattress. And an air pump. That didn't work because it needed a car cigarette lighter for power. Hmm.
Judy came to the rescue with an unorthodox solution!
Conference setup day!
It's a mammoth task to unload a "tank" full of book boxes and displays, drag it all up to an exhibit hall, and set it up. This year was better because we had a proper cart.
Glamorous booth set up...
Finally set up.
Almost ready to open.
Beautiful hotel elevator ride
The conference was amazing!
We met many wonderful teachers and the booth was humming with activity. I loved the chance to interact with musicians from all over the country and talk string technique. From cello shifting to violin scales, we had fabulous conversations and (happily for our aching arms and backs) came home with empty book boxes.
If you are thinking of attending at ASTA conference, definitely try it out; there were so many great sessions and just the coolest people ever. Hope to see you next year in Albuquerque!
Cassia Harvey can't ever find or play enough exercises. She searches for rare and out-of-print studies and etudes in her free time. If you know of any, please let her know. Seriously; it's an obsession.