Scales are Arpeggios are important for learning violin. And yet, many students consider them the bane of their violin existence. After all, they sound best when be executed with near-perfect technique and yet seem to lack interest, musical content, and melody.
What are the advantages to practicing scales? How better to learn to play even up-bows and down-bows, without rhythm or melody to distort rhythmical consistency and symmetrical bowing. In addition, key signatures must be mastered to play scales correctly and in tune. And, they force the student to play in many positions as well as to master the high reaches of the violin in a controlled manner. Intonation and good tone can also be developed through playing scales, along with a steady and consistent vibrato. Practiced at a rapid tempo, scales also develop fluency of the fingers and accurate shifting. Finally, from a practical point of view, many schools, colleges, conservatories, and youth symphonies require scales as part of auditions. Thus, failing to learn them can render the student unable to compete.
Also important are arepeggios. These consist of only three notes — the triad that forms the root of the key signature of the arpeggio. For example, in the key of D, there are three notes in each arpeggio (D, F-sharp, and A), played in ascending and descending octaves. Arpeggios, like scales, help develop good intonation and understanding of key signatures. They also develop shifting skills along with good intonation, since the student must match the pitch of the notes in each octave to the previous octave. Like scales, when played at a rapid tempo, arpeggios also develop fluency of the fingers and accurate shifting. Finally, arpeggios may be required at auditions and thus are often necessary to learn.
It may be difficult for the student or teacher to choose an ideal book of scales and/or arpeggios. While the Carl Flesch book is considered the gold standard for playing them in three octaves, the book is also thickly layered with other difficult material such as tenths and thirds that can go on for pages. In addition, practically speaking, the book does not like to stay open and it can be hard to locate the scale or arpeggio to be played, due both to the sheer thickness of the book, and also to the seemingly “random” (though, in fact, it is not random) order of keys. Finally, the book does not contain scales in one and two octaves and thus is geared toward advanced students only.
For more beginning students, there are few books that incorporate scales and arpeggios in the same book, or that base their fingerings for one and two octaves on the Flesch fingerings — or indeed on any other consistent logic.
Due to the seeming lack of good and modern options, I have compiled a manageable and simple book of scales and arpeggios in one, two, and three octaves that offer Flesch fingerings for the three octave varieties, but that also include one and two octaves scales and arpeggios. These consistent fingerings are based on and preparatory for those in three octaves included in the book by Carl Flesch.