8/3/2019 2 Comments
When learning an instrument, it is important to listen to various pieces composed for the instrument. It is also helpful to listen to a variety of different music in general. Listening to music (or noticing it... as music is played everywhere these days) regularly is a good habit to form as a musician. Being aware of stylistic conventions in different genres of music is a crucial skill for the modern violinist who is asked to play in many different styles. As a violin teacher, I build a foundation of technique in my students based on classical violin playing traditions. Like many teachers, I believe that a good foundation in Western classical techniques can allow a violinist to play not only classical music, but allow them to transfer their technique to other styles. It is important to be familiar with the music which these techniques were developed for.
Today, I am offering a bonus point opportunity for my students for their summer scale challenge, but anyone can participate in this listening exercise by commenting on this post. The assignment is to listen to two pieces from Classic FM's list of "10 Best Pieces of Classical Music for Kids" and jot down some thoughts about them. Classic FM deems this list as good starting point for listening to classical music for children, but these pieces are also a great starting point for the adult unfamiliar with popular classical pieces.
Here are some questions to ponder for each selection:
Ms. Holly's Students: you may respond to these questions as a comment on this post, via email, or hand me a paper in person (or put in my box at Evola) by August 18th to earn 5 bonus points for the Summer Scale Challenge. Follow the link above and watch two videos from the list. Violin is featured/present in most of these pieces. You do not have to choose pieces that have violin in them for this challenge.
What is your favorite piece? Comment below and let me know!
Scale practice creates foundation of good technique for virtually all musicians; the violin is no exception. If you practice your scales each day, you will learn new pieces faster and improve all facets of your playing more quickly than you would without daily scale practice. Scales are not the only technical studies that violin students should devote their time to, but they are a good place to start. Scale-like passages are present in all kinds of music. Arpeggios (the first, third, and fifth scale degrees played consecutively) are derived from the underlying harmony of a musical piece, and are often featured in musical passages for melodic instruments, such as the violin. Thus, learning your scales and arpeggios not only helps your technical ability on your instrument, but also provides a student with a foundation of knowledge for later learning about musical structure and harmony.
So, what is a scale?
Very simply put, a scale is a group of pitches dividing an octave, arranged in ascending order. An example is a G Major scale starting with the note G (open G-string) then ascends to A (first finger G-string), then B (2 on G), C (3 on G), D (open), E (1 on D), F# (2 on D), G (3 on D). For a more detailed overview, click here.
This scale challenge is for my violin students at the Evola School of Music in Canton, MI, but anyone can adapt this challenge for their needs or the needs of their students. Each of my students will be assigned at least one scale a week to learn depending on their level of playing. Most of my students have been playing less than three years, so you could certainly make this challenge harder by changing the bowing patterns, increasing the octave range, or having them learn more scales each week.
The Challenge begins Monday, July 22nd. I will be assigning scales no later than Monday, July 15th.
Several scales and arpeggios can be found in the Suzuki Books, however, the Suzuki books alone do not provide the best format for learning scales and arpeggios.
I suggest the following books for scale study:
You can find all of these books online and Evola Canton stocks "A Scale in Time ($8)", the Suzuki Books, and Essential Elements Book 3 ($10).
What do you think of the challenge? Do you have any suggestions? Do you have an idea for a bonus point opportunity?
Teachers: What scale books do you think are indispensable for daily scale study?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.