"Don't practice scales, practice with scales!"
Scales Translate Complexity
As mentioned in my video, it’s important to remember that a scale is a tool that helps us understand the micro-components within a complex combination of patterns: a piece of music. If used correctly, a scale can unravel the most challenging (looking) piece and turn it into something we can easily understand and become familiar with.
Here is an exercise that will teach you how to use a scale to your advantage:
(This exercise focuses mainly on bowing patterns and bow technique)
- Mark bowing patterns in your piece (in different colors)
- Practice these bowings on a scale of your choice
- Later, add dynamics, accents, vibrato, and general musical expression
- Once you are comfortable with the bowings while playing a scale, play the notes as written
Important Side Note: Make sure to only practice one bowing pattern at a time! For example: Day I- green bowing pattern only, Day II- blue bowing pattern only, etc. If the patterns are simple you can do two or three per day, just make sure not to combine them before you are done practicing all of them separately!
Teaching your brain certain patterns is a very effective and time efficient way to practice. Constant repetition of a pattern teaches your body one specific motion, which activates your muscle memory. The reason why we are using colors to highlight patterns, is because they stimulate the visual sense and (when playing through the entire piece) work as a trigger, activating the associated physical motions.
In this LINK you’ll find an example of what this exercise could look like. I’ve worked through the first two pages. (Excerpt: Arensky Violin Concerto Op.54)