So, a new year (I know our fireworks were awfully flash but weren't the London ones so artistic, that big Eye is a great platform). Hope 2018 is a good one for you.
Now the 12 days of Christmas are over it might be time to get back in the saddle. Well maybe, though half we Aussies are still on our long hols at the beach, inside watching movies or otherwise avoiding the fiery furnace outside -- while I see many of you northern hemisphere folk are snowed in big time. Poor things. I guess your fingers may not be working so well either... Maybe not the best time to talk about scales.
Scales of the 3 octave kind. Now, what follows might not be at all relevant to you, especially if you have been preparing for an exam. Probably best to keep to what you've been practising. This is just my own enthralling personal journey.
Practising scales from my Aust. Music Exam. Board Violin Technical Work book I realised I should change my approach. First, I was surprisingly thrown out by what I thought a bizarre new fangled idea - from 4th grade on they have added 3 notes to the beginning and end. So they go tonic, third, second, tonic at each end. Weird. But now I see. Aha, there are 48 notes before you get to the final tonic which you play with a separate bow. Consider the slurred bowing patterns required: 3 notes per bow in 4th grade, then 4 to a bow, 6 to a bow and 12 notes per bow as you progress up the grades.
So those 48 scale notes are divisible in all those ways. Clever eh. Kind of like a dozen eggs.
But why would the extra notes be a problem for me? You may well ask. The answer is that I was playing my scales by ear, in that I knew those little tunes (major, melodic minor, harmonic minor) so well that I automatically played the semi-tones in the right places. Strangely the extra notes and perhaps the bowing groupings made the rhythm and "tune" seem different and this took a bit of readjustment. Especially with the trickier scales, I now practise with the music, having marked the semi-tones so as not to get confused.
Hey it helps to know what those notes are too! Perhaps I wasn't even aware I was playing a Fb in the relevant spots in the Ab minors? Well...hopefully I was... You know Fb is the same as an E don't you (OK so some of you smarties may wish to dispute this but hey, one woman's floor is another woman's ceiling).
Another factor was the fingering I was used to. A very well-regarded teacher once got me (for scales A and above) to always put my 1st finger on the tonic on the E string, go 1st, 2nd, 3rd finger then shift up. This worked very well for the old scale format, however with the extra notes and different slurred bowings now required in A.M.E.B. exams I see it makes more sense to shift up to a 1st finger with the start of a new bow. The same might be a factor when choosing fingering in pieces...
Oh well, as they say, "live and learn"
Next time I'll tell you of my exciting adventures and thoughts after auditioning the local amateur orchestras. No, not auditioning FOR.