Tags: intervals, methods, practice, scales, solos
by Paula Verdicchio Ailshie
Are you playing through your scales etudes, solos, orchestral repertoire and methods, or are you practicing? The difference is setting a goal. Advanced players can be just as guilty as beginners of the “playing syndrome.” You know, getting through material, but not necessarily intently improving in every aspect of playing possible. Practicing shouldn’t be “vain repetitions” either. Playing a scale, excerpt or solo ten times doesn’t mean you’ve practiced.
Below I’ve listed some examples of goals you can go through during your weekly practice. I am using the scale as a model, but these goals are applicable to methods, techniques, solos, excerpts, etudes and repertoire as well. You have an entire week, seven practice sessions before your next lesson, and that is a lot of time to reach a lot of specific goals! And, if it takes longer than a week, you still have a tangible measure of success to feel proud of!
Practice to solidify reading the notes.
Say notes aloud as you play to reinforce reading.
Focus on the pattern of whole and half steps; memorize them.
Focus on the finger patterns and positions, and memorize them.
Sing using Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Ti-Do
Sing using note names.
Sing in intervals. Do-Re, Do-Mi, Do-Fa, etc.
Practice to achieve dexterity in the left hand.
Use proper form, don’t let the wrist or hand tense up.
Practice in a mirror and watch the left hand for minimal motion and efficiency.
Practice in a mirror, making sure the bow stays perpendicular to the strings.
Get a clean attack, round full tone and smooth bow change every time.
Keep a proper bow hold: relaxed and pliable with a relaxed wrist.
Keep the bow placement in the sounding point.
Play using full bows from frog to tip with an even bow speed.
Practice Do- Re-Mi-Fa-Sol finger exercise in 1st position, then in all other positions
Practice tonic arpeggios.
Play small excerpts of songs you know by ear.
Play legato at all tempos.
Play staccato at all tempos.
Practice non vibrato for intonation
Practice vibrato for expression
Use a drone on the tonic, tuning each interval of the scale slowly to “Do”
Use a tuner to adjust each note until you can go from note to note without adjustment.
Use a metronome on the strong beats. Use a metronome on the weak beats.
Use a metronome as the pulse of the meter.
Use a metronome as the subdivision of the meter.
Use a variety of rhythmic patterns with effective bow distribution.
Use a variety of slur combination in groups of 2, 3, 4 and more.
Combine rhythms and slurs after you have practiced each separately.
Practice tonic arpeggios in major and minor.
Practice all possible chord arpeggios in the given key.
Practice simple melodies in the key of the scale, in the easiest position possible.
Play an entire song by ear from a recording. Start with 8 bar segments.
Play a convincing solo over a given set of chord changes.
Identify spell and play all modes.
Play collè, martelè and spiccato and richchet.
Use a variety of slur combination in groups of 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 10, 11, 12 and more.
Play in 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 note groupings.
Play scale and modes in ascending intervals. (Up, Up)
Play scale and modes in descending intervals. (Down, down)
Combine interval directions. (Up down; Down, up)
Play one octave on each one string only.
Play scale two octaves in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th position.
Play the scale using only 1st finger. Play the scale using only 2nd finger.
Play the scale using only 3rd finger. Play the scale using only 4th finger.
Play the scale 2 octaves on one string.
Practice intervals and arpeggios on one string only.
Practice intervals and arpeggios with one finger only.
Practice arpeggio sequence in all keys and all positions possible.
Transpose melodies in the key of the scale to alternate positions and strings.
Transcribe by ear, first to your instrument, then into notation.
Play an improvised solo that outlines the chord changes without accompaniment.
Practice Chord progressions and their variants in multiple 2 and 3 note voicings.
Use Ears, Eyes, Mind, Body and Voice in every practice session.
Employ aural learning and ear-training. Use visualization. Use intellectual clues and knowledge base to play smarter and to be thorough. Focus on kinesthetic awareness and tactile details. Sing everything!
Notes are the alphabet; scales, intervals and arpeggios are your vocabulary
If you had just learned the alphabet of a foreign language, you wouldn’t yet be able to write a novel. Why do we assume as music students that in knowing only a few scales, we can play a symphony? Get cracking on your fundamentals, so that you can play, hear and compose at the level you are capable of. Otherwise, it’s like trying to read Hemmingway in Kindergarten.
One Scale a Week; Some Scales a Day
The scale of the week should be practiced everyday that week, and should be in depth and memorized. The scale or scales of the day should be a logical rotation through all known keys. For those who have not yet learned all keys, the daily rotation can include working through these new scales for the first time. Learn one octave all keys first, then 2, then 3 etc.
Although you may be able to READ something very well that is not memorized, you are not PLAYING it. You are READING. Have you ever been to a theatrical production where people read from the script? Me neither. That would be preposterous. Guess what? You never see rockers using music. They take the time to have their music down, so that they can have fun doing it, and interact with people in the audience. If it isn’t memorized, that means it hasn’t yet been practiced to the point of assimilation. Simply put, you don’t really know it. Correct repetitions will get you there, as long as you are making sure to engage all of the senses possible in playing.
© 2008 by Paula Verdicchio Ailshie and Duo Music Studio