I’ve given myself one year to master the violin.

As an adult beginner, I should be playing Twinkle Twinkle; instead, I'm playing Paganini's 24th caprice.

On a Larger Scale

One piece of the violinist toolbox I’ve yet to touch upon is the scale.  I’ve been doing scales, of course, but just never showed myself doing them.  They’re more difficult than they seem like they should be.  Well, maybe they’re not more difficult, just that standards are higher with them.  On a difficult passage, if a few things here and there are off, then so what, but on a scale, you’re playing very predictable notes, so shouldn’t it be perfect?

With my playing, that answer is clearly no.

Since Paganini Caprice 24 is written in A-minor, it would makes sense for me to be practicing an A-minor scale, right?  Probably, but Danielle wanted me to start with A-major first so that’s what I’ve been doing.  At the beginning, I only went up two octaves, and I didn’t even use a 4th finger – I played with open strings.  Then I used the 4th finger, but still played only two octaves:



Besides the fancy camera work, noting too exciting, right?  Adding on just one more little octave means several shifts going up and down.  Here’s my valiant attempt:

Besides missing the cute little face at the end, not horrible, huh?  Several of the high notes are out of tune, but hey, my tapes don’t go up that high.  An interesting thing to do with the last video is actually to mute it and watch it again.  My left hand actually looks kind of good.  My darn right hand seems to be messing everything up.  When starting the violin, I would have guessed that the left hand would be 99% of the problems.  Now, I’m not saying I’ve mastered the left hand or anything, but the right hand is surprisingly an equally (if not more so) beast to tame.

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6 Comments on “On a Larger Scale”

  1. Ryan says:

    Try practicing with an electric tuner at a slower tempo. Korg makes some good ones. By slurring so much you are wasting your time. You need to use separate bows for each note until your sound production is at least some what good and your intonation is good enough for the notes to sound like they aren’t coming from a piano that hasn’t been tuned in 83 years. Trust me, I have played pianos that hadn’t been tuned since they were first built, 83 years ago. If you are playing Paganini, you need to be playing scales at least up to ninth position.

  2. JRV says:

    Nice work, Stonewall —

  3. b. anna says:

    Vaughn, your bow arm looks SO much more relaxed! Good going!

    When I practice scales, I often play against adjacent open strings to check intonation. It’s also helpful to listen for sympathetic vibrations of open strings and overtones. When you’re playing in tune, these notes will ring and your whole instrument will seem to open up with sound.

  4. Dr. Auer says:

    So you vant to learn the violin in one year und play Caprice No.24?

    Zis iz a joke, right … you think you can learn ze whole gestalt by just holding a violin and trying hard for one year?

    You must suffer for years und years before you can play ze violin … otherwise you have no feeeeling for der instrument.

    My recommendation is zat you play the recorder und whistle ze tunes. Zat will make you much more happy und content.

  5. Dr. Auer says:

    Pleeeez, mein kinder … do not attempt to play your scales unaccompanied … okay for Paganini, but verboten for learning scale intonation …!!!!

    Ask your dear wife to play ze scales on ze piano vith you … all she needs iz one finger on ze keys … ze white ones are naturals and ze black ones are sharps und flats .. zooo zimple.


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