Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Scales and arpeggios

I came across a link to an awfully cute video while catching up in the Internet Cello Society forums, and it inspired me to write a bit about how I have changed my scale practice recently. If you're a 'cello person, read on. If you are a cat person, go straight to the video. If you're neither, why are you here?

Anyway, my inspiration was in a comment on Jason Heath's Double Bass Blog, later featured in a separate post. You can read the whole comment over there, but the meat of it was a description of Rabbath's recommendation for how to practice scales using a system of 282 bowing and 130 fingering permutations, with increasing practice lengths to build endurance. I don't have access to the Rabbath method, but I do have the Galamian scales transcribed and edited by Hans Jorgen Jensen. This includes two sections, one of scale patterns, and one of bowing permutations. I would imagine they might be similar.

For the past two years I have practiced 4 octave scales with uniform fingering patterns and accelerating notes under one bow: MM=88, 4 beats/bow, first linked half notes, followed by quarter notes, then eighth notes in three patterns, then sixteenth notes until I crash and burn. I was beginning to feel a bit uninspired, and admit to skipping scale practice on more than one occasion.

So I adapted Benjy's advice to the Galamian scales. For the past couple of weeks I have set a timer for 30 minutes, chosen a scale of the day, and after a run-through with linked half-notes to make sure I have the fingering down, am loosened up, and my vibrato is working, I play quarter notes, up and down, using a different bowing pattern each time, just moving sequentially along. At the end of the day I place a check mark next to the last variation I did, and the next day start with the following one.

It does keep things interesting, especially now that I am into variations that have five notes under the bow with various patterns of legato and staccato notes under the slur. I told T- what I was doing, and he heartily approved any plan that gets me "more time in the saddle," and also pointed out how the uniform fingerings for the scales facilitates the bowing variations.

So anyway, if you're bored with your scales, there's another inspiration. And here's a little song:


Beth K. Vogt said...

Love that little ditty. Have never heard it in French!

Anonymous said...

Dear Cellist,

I have a question about cello technique, regarding the Martinu piece you have on your site.

Can you send me an email and I'll shoot you back my question(s)?

Many thanks!