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But I did wonder how many people were mystified by the Galamian scale system, so I will share with you what I shared with him. Yes, I practice these scales, I teach these scales and I highly recommend them. And another: They will help you avoid injury. I never met Ivan Galamian nor do I agree with everything idea he had or edition he made but I am grateful for the wisdom of his scales, as taught to me by three wonderful teachers and Galamian proteges: Jim Maurer of the University of Denver, the late Conny Kiradjieff of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and Gerardo Ribeiro of Northwestern University.
I will tell you mostly about the three-octave scales, from Volume 1 , as this is a good starting point. This is not to diminish the importance of the arpeggios in Volume 1 and the double- and multiple-stop scales in Volume 2.
The three-octave scales each begin and end with a turn for example, G major begins with G-B-A-G before ascending, and it ends the same way. This serves two purposes; First, playing the third of the scale immediately sets the left hand with fingers over the fingerboard, so that you are simply dropping fingers, instead of flying at the fingerboard. Second, it makes the math work — more on that later.
As for fingerings, in general, you can start each scale on a first finger, or on a second finger. I pretty much start them all on a first finger. Because mastering scales this way allows the left fingers to learn spacing for every possible position on the violin.
Yes, start a Bb major scale in second position, shift to fourth or fifth position, and then to seventh. The left hand learns its mold for each position. Here is how I put into practice: Set your metronome on 60 — a beat per second. Start with half notes, two beats on every note of the scale, breathing deeply, using the full length of the bow, aiming for purity of intonation and purity of tone no glitches in the bow.
Proceed to quarter notes, two to a bow, keeping the free and open feeling and purity in the bow arm. Then: eighth notes, four to a bow; triplets, six to a bow; 16ths, eight to a bow; sextuplets, twelve to a bow.
This is where the math comes in, those turns at the beginning and end of the scale allow for the maximum rhythmic divisions.
Did you get all that? If not, most of it is written out on page 5 of Volume 1 the slower tempi are something I do, not written there. Scale work is anything but boring, if you are concentrating. Here are a few aims for your scales: perfect intonation; tidy shifting; absolute bow control and purity of tone; rhythmic precision in left hand; relaxed bow arm; full bows, frog to tip; stillness of the left hand; shifting with the entire hand; and the list goes on.
Once you can play a three-octave scale, you can put it in your service for right-hand work. For example, try an acceleration exercise with spiccato. Do you have the control to do one bounce precisely each second? Try it. In some ways, the slow tempi require more control than does the sautille. And by the way, can you control the speed of your sautille? You should. Can you play at that tempo that is between spiccato and sautille? Try six strokes per second.
This can be a challenge. Other ideas: You can play this scale with up-bow or down-bow staccato. You can play it with dotted rhythms. Try going up the scale, metronome on, two to a beat, three to a beat, four to a beat.
Maybe you discover you have a weakness; for example, in playing Tchaik 4 you find that your pizzicato is weak and out of control. Do a pizzicato acceleration scale. Better yet, do pizzicato in rhythms. Sometimes I just do one simple acceleration exercise — five minutes on scales. But by using scales to solve these problems, I can simultaneously practice good, foundational intonation.
So yes, practice your scales! You can also talk about other scale methods that work for you.
The Galamian Scale System For Violoncello (Volume 1)
Galamian scales work wonders, and here's why