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Scales v etudes
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (9 votes) 
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stringy
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August 21, 2022 - 2:16 pm
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I was wondering about the playing of scales v the playing of etudes. What are peoples thoughts on which is more important, or are they the same?

I know etudes build technique whearas scales are good for hand position , intonation, and the like.

Just how important are etudes though, is it really necessary to spend hours playing them, rather than practice actual pieces, thoughts?

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SharonC
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August 21, 2022 - 3:40 pm
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I think scales are important.  How much time you need to practice them depends, I think, on how much you understand scales, finger patterns, etc., and how well you can execute them.

I think etudes are useful for the reasons you’ve stated – building technique. So I don't think they are anymore or less important than scales. 

That said, you can build technique via the pieces you practice if you focus on them (and you’re working with pieces that require those techniques).

Etudes were developed for children to learn.  Adults learned differently than children.  Adults know how to identify problems, and seek out solutions.  If you come across a technique problem in a piece you’re working on, you can also look up a specific etude exercise that focuses on that area.

Characterize people by their actions and you will never be fooled by their words.

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stringy
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August 21, 2022 - 3:59 pm
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Thanks for the input Sharon, you echo some of the things I was actually thinking.

I think its a very interesting and important subject.

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RDP
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August 22, 2022 - 10:35 am
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Both are important tools which overlap in some, but not all, areas.  Neither is a substitute for the other because, by themselves, they are not complete teaching tools.

I think of it this way:  If I divide the violin to create a "front half" and a "back half" at the end of the fingerboard, scales are more focused on the "front half" and etudes on the "back half."  Again, not entirely because scales help train the ear (back half) and etudes involve the fingers (front half).  Each focuses on specific things to help your mind separate what you're doing into a manageable learning element but neither is a complete teaching tool.

 

I would assume that someone could learn to play well using just one or the other, but the process would take a lot longer.

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damfino
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August 22, 2022 - 11:35 am
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Scales bore me to tears, but etudes could keep my attention. Plus there are etudes to help you practice common patterns, etc. my first teacher would purposely pick etudes that worked on skills commonly used in fiddling, and skip over the more classical influenced ones. It helped me be ready when I came across a tune using the skill, though I did often just work on a skill when a tune introduced it. Etudes helped (and I did work on the scale the etude was in, I just was bored while doing it, lol).

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Gordon Shumway
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August 24, 2022 - 8:48 am
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I'd say go for scales.

Play them slowly with an ear to intonation.

If you play études, which are designed for specific technical problems, and should therefore be prescribed by a teacher, intonation will take a back seat. Stick to pieces of music you like instead.

Andrew

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ELCBK
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August 26, 2022 - 8:24 am
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...maybe a slightly different slant on the question, for all of us self-taught players - when we practice scales or etudes, what's to say we learn them correctly?

 

 

🤔... how can we be certain - if we don't play them along with someone, an instructor, or a recording of someone known to be correct? 

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Fiddlerman
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September 21, 2022 - 11:51 am
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For those of you that prefer only playing etudes, remember that etudes consists of scales, as do your pieces that you like to perform. So in a way, you're still getting your scales. 😁

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Gordon Shumway
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September 22, 2022 - 11:54 am
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Fiddlerman said
For those of you that prefer only playing etudes, remember that etudes consists of scales, as do your pieces that you like to perform. So in a way, you're still getting your scales. 😁

  

Hmm, coincidentally, I've just started a Campagnoli étude that's all about sliding inaudibly up and down the E string between 1st and 11th positions and it's pretty much like the last octave or two of three octave scales!

Andrew

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wtw
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October 2, 2022 - 10:08 am
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Scales and arpeggios – I never practised them, all those years (except in a few études), and I'm starting to think I should.

[I never saw the Aristocats so thanks for the video @ELCBK]

So, I'm giving it a try. I didn't know where to start, so I decided to base myself on the ABRSM curriculum. I'm noticing I'm pretty bad at scales.

No idea whether it'll pay off, or how often/long I should practice them. It's pretty boring so I'm not sure I'll stick to it, either. I'm hoping a little's better than nothing, though.

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ABitRusty
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October 2, 2022 - 10:41 am
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wtw said
Scales and arpeggios – I never practised them, all those years (except in a few études), and I'm starting to think I should.

[I never saw the Aristocats so thanks for the video @ELCBK]

So, I'm giving it a try. I didn't know where to start, so I decided to base myself on the ABRSM curriculum. I'm noticing I'm pretty bad at scales.

No idea whether it'll pay off, or how often/long I should practice them. It's pretty boring so I'm not sure I'll stick to it, either. I'm hoping a little's better than nothing, though.

  

Just a couple of minutes before you do anything else can be helpful... i like arpeggios vs scales.  

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ELCBK
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October 2, 2022 - 12:51 pm
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🤔... this is probably the one time I
don't want to give anyone ideas.

 

At this point, I have to be realistic... it just isn't going to happen for me.  I have a stack of books with scale, arpeggios & etude exercises - tried a few & not going to do anymore, at least not on a regular basis.  I'm certainly not proud of this fact, but they're vampires & suck the life out of me. 

Occasionally, I'll work a little on a scale/arpeggio - when needed.  The many kinds of little tunes I've picked up will have to substitute for etudes (hopefully), but I know they are NOT the best.  They do have different scales within them and arpeggios, as well as other challenges.  

I am not immune to self-defeating behaviors, so I hope my playing is taken at face value - just 'dabblings' of an amateur.  I've never professed lofty goals - just on a fun journey of discovering sound, rhythm & phrasing, that's right for me... with emphasis on 'fun'. 

 

I do believe beginners should try to

form a solid base of skills - the best possible! 

 

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/78/59/d9/7859d9e42c54fc898e573a05751577b2.jpg 

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Gordon Shumway
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October 19, 2022 - 10:45 am
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Having plumped for scales, I have been looking at Kreutzer again.

Specifically, I've been looking again at number 4 (on staccato), as some Schubert and some Tchaikovsky that I'm planning to play both require up-bow staccato.

Here's the perfect edition for all of us on this particular forum

I like this edition for various reasons - it orders them in order of difficulty (in its opinion): - 5, 4, 2, 3, 1, (imo 5, 2, 4 is more accurate, and forget about #1. #3 is up to you), but also because it tells you how to work on each one. For #4 it tells you that if you want to practise down-bow staccato, just reverse the bowing.

Before approaching them, it's probably a good idea to play at most one or two basic Wohlfahrt studies.

#5 is nice because Eb is a gentle key (don't be afraid of three flats): - instead of B on the E string, you play Bb. instead of E on the A string you play Eb. Instead of A on the D string you play Ab - if your pinky is challenged, this is nice gentle stuff, apart from one or two accidentals for key changing. My teacher loves the key of Eb on the viola - E major is not so nice. (and total aside - Paganini's first violin concerto has the orchestra play in Eb, but the soloist plays in D with their strings tuned up a semitone)

Things to note are: -

You can't play them too slowly (leaving #1 out of consideration, lol).

Play them so slowly that you can perfect your intonation, string crossings and tone, and position shifting. My bugbear is my left thumb (and the way it affects my pinky, so I've been working on #2 also), so I play them so slowly that I can be consciously aware of where my thumb is at all times.

Tone is quite important - it can degenerate if you are at all taxed, so playing these so slowly that you can control the tone quality of every note is good exercise (Suzuki has little tone exercises, but they are too short).

====

Eb is the key of Vivaldi's Winter slow movement (ABRSM grade 5). This guy presents it in a strange manner, but it's OK (is it my imagination, or is a lot of his legato actually portato?). I think he charges for the music. Forget that - download it from IMSLP and add his fingerings.

Andrew

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