One of the best ways to map the fingerboard for your mind and fingers is by learning scales.
Three-octave scales, in particular, can be used to teach nearly all of the notes on the violin.
When people started asking me to write a three-octave scale book for violin, I knew I didn't want to just list the scales (or needlessly put another book out in the world.)
I only wanted write the book if it could solve a problem, or if it could help people learn scales in a new way.
So, the latest violin book we've published (see below) has been more than 5 years in the making!
In the process of writing and editing, I realized that by focusing on whole and half steps (not just half steps), we could clearly map fingerboard distances in our minds.
If we take time to think about the steps in scales and teach them to our fingers, it is possible to truly learn scales, play more in tune, and play in tune more consistently.
(When I saw how it worked, I actually got so excited by the violin book that I wrote a cello scale book that teaches scales the same way; I couldn't let violinists have all the fun!)
Tips for Playing Violin Three-Octave Scale Steps
II = A string
III = D string
IV = G string
I love the fact that scales are such a great vehicle for learning different skills on the violin! 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 violin; they can also be used for learning rhythm and bowing skills.
Today in the blog, we're going to focus on using a simple G major scale to work on violin 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! Violin 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.
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.