Whistler Elementary Scales and Bowings


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I took violin lessons from second through sixth grade (1977-1982) and then again from January 2001-January 2002.

I don't have nor remember the books I was given in grade school, but I have most, if not all, of the mimeographed sheets I was given. My teacher back then was Suzuki-ish, but not completely Suzuki, I don't think.

When I resumed study in 2001, my teacher then wanted to teach me using the Müller-Rusch method books. I got through the first two in that time, and possibly on to the third, although I have misplaced that one, so I'm not sure. I have all 5 books.

Somewhere in there I picked up copies of the String Builder books and Elementary Scales and Bowings. I don't recall if my teacher wanted me to get the scales book, but I never used it with her. Then she moved away and I got busy with life and dropped violin again.

I restarted by myself in October, at page 1 of both the Müller-Rusch and String Builder first books. I'm currently (today) starting lesson 18 in Müller-Rusch and page 20, exercise 89, in String Builder. Both of these (re)introduce the low 2nd finger.

I started using the Elementary Scales and Bowings in my practicing around the middle of November. I started with D major and added G major yesterday (just the first 8 exercises).

I also started A Rhythm a Week last week and will be going through that all this year.

On weekends I have more time to start new material and to practice. I only have about half an hour in the morning on weekdays, and if I'm lucky, another half hour later in the day on some, but not all days. I'm also using an Android app or two to learn to associate notes wirh their letter names. That I can do any time I have 5 minutes.

My question is this:  Should I try to do ALL the bowings for each scale ALL the time, as I learn them, or should I split the bowings up between scales?

I want to get the best technical bang for my time, but I also want to eventually start learning some repertoire.

And I know someone is going to say "get a teacher," but that's not possible at the moment due to financial circumstances. I'm working with what I've already got.

Currently, I'm doing scales from the book, then the weekly rhythm, then String Builder, then Müller-Rusch, in that order. I don't always have time for the Müller-Rusch, so I try to come back to that later, or swap between that and String Builder every other day.

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You sound much more dedicated than I ever was, however my suggestion is this:

Since we only have one brain and it has a lot of different things to do when playing violin --> if you find playing any of the bowings to be more difficult when playing specific scales, concentrate on those. (I have found for myself there is a definite connection between what my two hands are doing and if I have to concentrate more on one hand it steals concentration from the other.)

You might divide your practice time into 2 or perhaps 3 segments:

1. Warmup, which includes scales and etudes.

2. "Rehearsal" that includes "musical pieces" you are learning

3. "Reminiscing" that involves playing things you once "mastered."

When I had lessons in my childhood they followed a similar pattern and so did my practice.

When your time is limited just start from #1 and play through the standard routine to the end of your available time. I think this is the approach I took (for 5 years) 45 years ago when trying to increase my "chops" 35 years into my amateur violin "career." I still tend to take that approach every day now when my time is  essentially unlimited but my endurance is not.

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Did you know it's possible to practice scales in your head? At this point in my playing I'm trying to rid myself of the idea of "positions" and just move  up & down the fingerboard to make fluid musical phrases. So I do lots of scales,  tritone & seventh chord arpeggios, little 6-2-5-1 chord progressions, etc.. I'm finding that at least half of this stuff is mental, and I can practice it while walking my dog.

I got into this idea by listening to Olympic athletes talking about their training. Skiers and gymnasts would talk about how their coaches would make them "visualize" their moves. Being a rather stupid & literal-minded person, it took me a while to realize that the kind of "visualization" they were talking about had little to do with sight. Once I got over that idea, I realized: hey, maybe string players can do that too!

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