"Dad, do I have to play scales today?"

It doesn't matter how long you have played violin, scales should be an integral part of your practice!  You may not play scales and arpeggios every day, but even virtuoso violinists turn back to them regularly.  There are several reasons that scales are useful.

1.  They are a good warm-up.  Go up and down scales.  One octave for beginners.  Two octaves later.  Three octaves if you are able.  What does that do?

What doesn't it do?  Every finger is used repeatedly. Proper intonation is essential, and you can hear it when you play a scale.  I remember a piece that I played when I was younger that I played over and over as a warm-up.  It wasn't until years later that I realized that I had actually been playing the piece out of tune.  (Darn accidentals!)

2.  It allows you to work on technique without having to think about what you are playing!  Doesn't that sound strange?  It's not, really.  You don't have to think about what is coming next . . . you already know the scale.  You just need to think about the technique that you will use to produce the note . . . not the note itself.  You can play different rhythms.  You can practice dynamics.  How many notes can you get to a single bow?  Play with vibrato and without vibrato.  You can do all of these things while playing a piece that is "in your fingers."

3.  Scales help you develop and maintain your ear.  A great deal of ear training is based on scales!  Play scales and you'll know that you are playing in tune.  Get those fingers practiced in coming down in just the right spot!

All in all, scales are good exercises in theory, but what practical exercises can we do, without the expense of buying a book of scale studies?  (By the way, I do recommend using scale studies . . . but even without the formal studies there are many things you can do with scales.  We'll talk about some basic exercises tomorrow!

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Elementary Scales
VirtualSheetMusic.com lets you download music right to your computer.  Fast, convenient and reasonable.  This set of scale studies is among the more than 3,000 compositions you can download.  Annual memberships available, or you can get one piece at a time
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Violin Tip of the Day - October 5
* Violin Tips for Practice and Rehearsals.

* Violin Technique and Exercises.

* How to Care for Your Violin.

* Inspiration and Motivation for Violinists, Fiddlers, or
   Anyone Interested in Stringed Instruments.
Violin Tip of the Day -- Violin Student Central -- February 1
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