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For practising the G major scale by ear
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DanielB
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November 8, 2012 - 4:13 pm
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Some folks here practice scales against electronic tuners to work on their intonation.  I won't say that is bad, but personally I prefer to practice the scales against sound, so the ear gets some practice at hearing while the fingers match the pitch.

This is just a G Major scale repeating through one octave at a fairly slow tempo for a little under 5 minutes.   Nothing real interesting to listen to, but very easy to practice against.  For the theory inclined folks, it is whole notes at 140 bpm, tuning is A=440.

Beginners get told fairly often to "practice scales". but I haven't seen a lot about how to practice or what to practice.  If you are learning to play by ear, then most of the exercises and etudes available won't be much help, since they are pretty dots and all, but not sounds.

If you are very new, you can play along to this scale by playing the G string open for the first note, then your first finger down on the string for the second note, second finger down for the third note, third finger down for the fourth note, then the open D string for the fifth note, first finger down for the sixth note second finger down for the seventh note, and third finger down for the eighth one.  (Just open strings and where the tapes are, if you are using tapes.)

Now, what I will suggest as a practice exercise (especially for beginners who want to learn to play by ear or maybe train their ear a bit) is to just play along to this, while trying to do a bow stroke that uses almost the whole length of your bow's hair for each note.  Work on getting your notes to match the ones on the recording and doing nice long strokes with the bow.

Less than 5 minutes, it is just one octave of the G major scale, easy stuff.  But you can give your ear a little training and work on your tone and form if you use it as a warmup.  It makes a nice easy 5 min (almost) of practice, and at about 7 months I still usually start my own practice sessions with it.  Hopefully it may be a little bit useful to some folks.

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"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Barry
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very useful tool

There is no shame in playing twinkle, youre playing Mozart

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cdennyb
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wow Daniel, could I be so bold as to ask that you post the other major keys as well!!??

That would be awesome...thumbs-up

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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Fiddlestix
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Very informative, Dannyboy. Great information.  smile

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wanabfidler
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I have a spec of tape on C left of the g string because cgda can be referenced but I do like this for the ear thank you

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DanielB
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Glad folks like it.  I just thought it would be handy to have for when someone new wants something to practice.  About 5 min isn't so long it gets really boring, but it is long enough to get some benefit from doing it daily, especially when starting out.

Now, to go with it, I worked up a simple score in standard notation.  Some folks might find the idea of training the ear a little more inviting if it is written out, and some folks who are learning by ear may want to eventually learn to read what they are playing.  That will come pretty easy from just following along with the eyes while playing along by ear.  It builds the connection in the mind between a note on a page and a sound you hear and where your finger goes on what string to get it.  It can at least be a start.

You can get even a little more out of practice, if you like, by saying or singing the letter names of the notes as you play.  G, A, B, C, D, E, F sharp, G.

 

 

Not sure what the best way to put up a pdf file is, but it should at least be downloadable from the link at the bottom of this post.

 

@cdennyb: Yeah, we can do that.  I'll probably start another thread with that, to keep this one short and easy to follow for the new folks.  I think it is better if they get one scale down before jumping to the other ones anyway. 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Picklefish
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As far as what to practice and how to practice scales, I have a suggestion. Look at the song you are trying to learn and choose the scale that matches its key signature. Now look at the notation of the song you are trying to learn. Are there scalular runs either up or down the scale? then practice those as a scale study. Are they areas where arpeggios (skipping notes) are used, then practice those as a scale study. Try sight reading the piece after all that and see where the areas are that are difficult for you, isolate simplify and practice just those areas.

How to practice, yeah its easy to point out the areas and say practice, but how. The easiest way is to start slow, whole notes slow. Find the notes on your fingerboard and go slow to learn where they are and make sure you are in tune on each note. Once you can do that perfectly at whole note speed (however many beats in the measures of your piece) the go at half note speed and maintain perfection. Then gradually increase in speed to 16th note speed each pass for each type of study in the piece. Playing something faster than its supposed to be as practice helps make it easy to play it slower but also the next piece you choose might be faster, youd be all set.

In all you do, start slow and gradually increase speed. If either of your hands tense up you are doing something wrong, relax. If you are creative and can extrapulate data from print then you can create your own book of studies and etudes.

Oh, you dont have the printed sheet music and still want to learn something......its called learning by ear. Best way to go about that....practice your scale studies from the key you want to play in. Then note out by ear the notes to easy songs without the dots and you will be able to pick it up pretty quick. Familiar songs you already know like happy birthday are a good challenge for beginners.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Nothing I've read so far deals with the most difficult component of a diatonic scale - the physical aspect, and not ear training.  The 1 octave G major scale looks so simple as notated but the actual physical problem is dropping the fingers accurately *each* time.   That can be called muscle memory and there are exercises for that but it comes down to good mechanics of the fingers which single note scales don't enforce in the first place.  Sure, the ear is supposed to guide the entire process but I'm not having problems knowing what the note is supposed to sound like but rather the lack of hitting the note with sufficient accuracy.  The half step whole step pattern is trivial to remember but there is too much freedom of movement in the hand and fingers.   I'm now doing double stop exercises in one position where two fingers are always anchored in place while various note patterns are repeated.   Why is the physical attributes of learning the violin ignored?  I read that double stop 3rds are good for 'shaping' the hand.  The Harvey Whistler book on Double stops has a peculiar message in the preface where it warns that students who practice single note scales rigorously are often ill prepared.  So why did they do it in the first place?

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soma5
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Composer said
Nothing I've read so far deals with the most difficult component of a diatonic scale - the physical aspect, and not ear training.  The 1 octave G major scale looks so simple as notated but the actual physical problem is dropping the fingers accurately *each* time.   That can be called muscle memory and there are exercises for that but it comes down to good mechanics of the fingers which single note scales don't enforce in the first place.  Sure, the ear is supposed to guide the entire process but I'm not having problems knowing what the note is supposed to sound like but rather the lack of hitting the note with sufficient accuracy.  The half step whole step pattern is trivial to remember but there is too much freedom of movement in the hand and fingers.   I'm now doing double stop exercises in one position where two fingers are always anchored in place while various note patterns are repeated.   Why is the physical attributes of learning the violin ignored?  I read that double stop 3rds are good for 'shaping' the hand.  The Harvey Whistler book on Double stops has a peculiar message in the preface where it warns that students who practice single note scales rigorously are often ill prepared.  So why did they do it in the first place?

They do it because it is also necessary.  The double-stop exercises are also deemed necessary (see for example Trott's books or the new Vamos book).  Insufficient doesn't mean unnecessary.  For prolonged ife, it is insufficient to merely breathe.  However, it is necessary...

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DanielB
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@Composer: Well, if you feel that is the most important aspect to work on, why don't you write up some posts on it and explain how to do it and give some exercises you've felt were helpful to you in learning it?  It seems reasonable that if you feel there is a lack in education on something that you feel is important, then you should address it. 

 

Myself, I haven't been playing violin long enough that I feel I have a grasp of what is most important.  Not yet, anyway.  Maybe some years down the line, when I can consider the learning process in retrospect, I may have some thoughts on such things. 

I wouldn't know how to begin to communicate the physical mechanics of how exactly to bring a finger down.  I didn't take anatomy in college, just a couple semesters of biology.  LOL

However, as a noob, I have found intentionally using my ears and practising scales as part of my work on intonation to be helpful so far.  So it seemed reasonable to share one of the methods I use in case others might want to try working on those things. 

I am still in my first year of playing, and my personal focus is more on single note melody lines.  I use doublestops only very rarely, and have not practised them yet.  Like many aspects of this instrument, I simply haven't gotten that far.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Picklefish
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In my opinion, any confusion read below; As far as learning accurate mechanics and fingerings so that it is repeatable with little error is easy. First you have to establish a correct and consistently same way to always hold the neck of the violin with no change whatsoever ever. I have that. Then, your first finger will mechanically and easily with no contortion or streaching bend down and be in the right posistion always. This is because it has two knuckles and only comfortably bends one way. Now that you have this relationship established between the first finger, bent comfortably and your hand holding the neck (or supporting if you want to split hairs over terminology) then its just a matter of doing it the same way always. That leaves third finger mechanics and the posistion of the palm in relation to the neck of the violin. It is important that you establish third finger note accuracy and hold the shape of the hand. This is a basic finger shape and is the only other major thing to learn. Once you have learned these things you will always be in the right posistion with only minor adjustments for change in keys. simple right. youre welcome. I use a tuner.fainting-1344

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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soma5 said

Composer said
Nothing I've read so far deals with the most difficult component of a diatonic scale - the physical aspect, and not ear training.  The 1 octave G major scale looks so simple as notated but the actual physical problem is dropping the fingers accurately *each* time.   That can be called muscle memory and there are exercises for that but it comes down to good mechanics of the fingers which single note scales don't enforce in the first place.  Sure, the ear is supposed to guide the entire process but I'm not having problems knowing what the note is supposed to sound like but rather the lack of hitting the note with sufficient accuracy.  The half step whole step pattern is trivial to remember but there is too much freedom of movement in the hand and fingers.   I'm now doing double stop exercises in one position where two fingers are always anchored in place while various note patterns are repeated.   Why is the physical attributes of learning the violin ignored?  I read that double stop 3rds are good for 'shaping' the hand.  The Harvey Whistler book on Double stops has a peculiar message in the preface where it warns that students who practice single note scales rigorously are often ill prepared.  So why did they do it in the first place?

They do it because it is also necessary.  The double-stop exercises are also deemed necessary (see for example Trott's books or the new Vamos book).  Insufficient doesn't mean unnecessary.  For prolonged ife, it is insufficient to merely breathe.  However, it is necessary...

It is the Vamos book that I just started using.  I didn't imply that practicing single note scales and arpeggios are avoidable, just that they aren't the best place to start despite their notational simplicity and perhaps they are inefficient.  Doesn't it seem odd that the major claims (proper left hand setup, strong fingers, accuracy of landing the finger on the same part of the pad) made in the Vamos book should already have been achieved by rigorous study of single note scales/arpeggios?   So why is it necessary to *begin* by studying single note scales?  Honestly, the Vamos exercises are simpler to do despite the initial difficulty of bowing two strings at once.  I'm using a tuner, so ear training can't be an explanation. Rachel Barton in the foreword states she did most every technique book in existence.  Obviously I'm not going to do that.  The goal is Wohlfahrt Book 1 played as well as Barton on her dVD.  Seems pretty reasonable but its been slow going via single note scales so far.

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picklefish said
In my opinion, any confusion read below; As far as learning accurate mechanics and fingerings so that it is repeatable with little error is easy. First you have to establish a correct and consistently same way to always hold the neck of the violin with no change whatsoever ever. I have that. Then, your first finger will mechanically and easily with no contortion or streaching bend down and be in the right posistion always. This is because it has two knuckles and only comfortably bends one way. Now that you have this relationship established between the first finger, bent comfortably and your hand holding the neck (or supporting if you want to split hairs over terminology) then its just a matter of doing it the same way always. That leaves third finger mechanics and the posistion of the palm in relation to the neck of the violin. It is important that you establish third finger note accuracy and hold the shape of the hand. This is a basic finger shape and is the only other major thing to learn. Once you have learned these things you will always be in the right posistion with only minor adjustments for change in keys. simple right. youre welcome. I use a tuner.fainting-1344

pickelfish, I don't understand how all the subtle details of finger positions/angles, hand position, etc can be taught at the beginning because the constraints are unknown.   Once you advance to double stops, then suddenly the constraints appear and adjustments are required which destroy intonation rendering all the previous practice worthless (at least thats what I am fearful and the Whistler foreword confirms that)  Besides, no demonstration should be required.  Exercises should themselves be self-correcting those details.  But they don't in single note scales.

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Picklefish
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I respectfully disagree.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Fiddlestix
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Can any of you guy's actually play violin or are all your violin skill's in written form ?

Why don't each of you expert's put up your own video to show us how it's done. That would save a lot of wasted time reading what you think you know.

@ Composer....Who or what, is Whistler ?    dunno

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Fiddlestix said
Can any of you guy's actually play violin or are all your violin skill's in written form ?

Why don't each of you expert's put up your own video to show us how it's done. That would save a lot of wasted time reading what you think you know.

Neither you nor anybody else is forced to read anything here.  Would there be anything wrong with moving on to some thread that you would enjoy more?

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Picklefish
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Official Disclaimer- I am not a Luthier, a pro player, professionally trained, having any experience in this whatsoever. When I make a comment take it with a grain of salt as intent cannot be inferred in my typeage. Sometimes I forget to notate that the comment is sarcasm, wit or irony to me. I assume yall can see my face when I post it. You have been warned.

 

that being said I do read alot as there is so much conflicting opinions on this, Im searching for difinitive answers I can apply to improve my own ability. I am offering opinions based on this not statements of fact based on expert status. Im learning just like everyone else and feel like I have a firm grasp of the basics. My approach, learning style, methods of cognition are somewhat non traditional and I think theres a large chunk of populace out there that share my learning, comprehending struggles. I have yet to find an expert voice that shares my feelings. If not agreeing is not acceptable why have a discussion. If I have understood the question incorrectly, chalk it up to my own comprehension struggles. If I come accross as over confident, cocky, dominant in opinion...well, at 6'5 297lbs I do come accross as intimidating without even realizing it. I am a strong believer that if you put in the work, if you put your mind to it, physical limitations not with standing, you can accomplish anything. I also firmly believe that if you can understand all the components of a complicated thing in their simplest form, you can eventually understand the complexities of that thing.

IF I have been a help to any of you thats awesome, if not, it happens. If you want help, ask, if not, ok. Im a go with the flow kind of guy that can rub people the wrong way. I always used to say, "I dont mean to offend you, it just comes naturally."

 

As to the OP's question I believe regarding mechanics, their duplicatablilty and the impact of more complicated skills on maintaining core efficiencies and repeatable mechanics in a fluid landscape....I believe a few moments of skype can help both of us. if not, it would be nice to meet you as I have a few others on here.

peace, pfish.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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DanielB
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RosinedUp said

Neither you nor anybody else is forced to read anything here.  Would there be anything wrong with moving on to some thread that you would enjoy more?

You never know.  He might have been kinda enjoying this one before it got sidetracked from being a simple ear/scale exercise into the assorted reasons why practising scales is suddenly a bad idea or someone's scholarly opinion of where we should all put our thumb. 

But that happens here, y'know?  Live and let live.hats_off

  

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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I don't have enough experience with playing or even holding my violin. It is well and good to see what others deem right with proper mechanics, placement and relaxed posture. Its hard for a new student of the instrument to see and really understand all the technical aspects of playing. To myself, the instruments may sound off at times and I adjust as I "THINK" is proper and correct. However, tone and placement flaws usually are not really noticed until note, scale or short piece is played back as a recording. So, to play by ear, or by stops, or by repetative and cyclic scales is really futile unless you are with an experienced and knowledgeable player. To train your ear properly, you have to have a precise note, as stated 440hz for A. Differences in hearing quality, age, background noise, and level of fitness will affect your hearing (read as racing or pounding heart), along with tenitis and other disorders.

 

I try and look at it like typing. When I learned to type, I hunted and pecked. Even looking at the keyboard I managed to hit wrong keys. I progressed and was able to type looking at the keyboard. I progressed again to type while reading information. I now can type while talking. At each step I still had bad finger placement, typing errors and horrific syntax. I read my typed text (ascii) and make/made corrections. If at any point of my typing I am not shown proper form, mechanics or hand placement, I will not type properly and may inhibit my further progress with speed, non-QWERTY keyboards, or ERGO keyboards.

 

I guess what I'm saying is I really do not know how to practice. I know alot of ways that don't work, and most ways don't work really well. I have been down the bad habit pathway and am very cautious about what to properly do. I do play scales and easy etudes. I also play the simplistic "children" songs with graduated easy song version for beginner players. I also play by ear and seem to have a knack for that. I just don't know how to instill good form, posture, and really good , comfotable and relaxed playing. The notes and tones do suffer when I play things back from after recorded It all starts sounding too mechanical or robotic.

"I find your lack of Fiddle, disturbing" - Darth Vader

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Fiddlerman
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Well x_Tyberius_x,

Another aspect of learning is the one we experience as teachers as well. Learning speeds differ enormously. What works for some do not work for others.

Find what works for you and keep doing it. Analyze your progress and take notice through trial and error of what makes you progress the quickest.

Do a little of everything in your practice sessions. Play long slow notes and move on to quicker notes in every part of the bow. Pay attention to what works as far as pressure and bow speed is concerned. Never stop thinking about intonation until you can perform something in your sleep and even then, keep it in mind.
Play études if you have any and end with a piece or several that can give you enjoyment and a little bit of a challenge as well.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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