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One-Step Scale System System for Viola

10 Exercises to a Better Left Hand

By Helen Callus

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Chamber viola
10 Exercises to a Better Left Hand. Composed by Helen Callus. Edited by Michael Lieberman Helen Callus. SWS. Book. With Standard notation. 56 pages. Carl Fischer Music #BF114. Published by Carl Fischer Music (CF.BF114).

Item Number: CF.BF114

ISBN 9780825887604. 9 x 12 inches.

World-renowned soloist and Professor of Viola at University of California, Santa Barbara and The Colburn Music Academy, Helen Callus presents her comprehensive, multi-point system of creating a solid foundation for left-hand technique. One-Step Scale System for Viola contains insights that Callus has used with her students for the past twenty years. The thorough system has been refined and rewritten to create a trim but thorough program for all ages - from the early student to the advanced. Scales, double-stops, intervals and other musical aspects are examined with the goal of achieving mechanical/technical flexibility one needs before studying a piece. A welcome addition to the study of viola that will remain with each student as they grow.
The foundation of this exercise system came from violist Paul Coletti, who introduced it to me as his student over twentyfive years ago. He recommended that I do some basic exercises that are useful in learning the fingerboard (separate from pieces and etudes), and from that I devised a more comprehensive, multiple-point system that I have been using with my students for the last twenty years. I consider it as useful as any other system in terms of learning mechanics (the study of the fundamentals or elements of technique), especially when used in combination with the other traditional resources such as Galamian and Flesch scale systems. In this book I have refined and rewritten the variations to create a trim but thorough program appropriate for all ages and levels from the early student to the advanced. It can remain useful on a daily basis as a great warm-up or to continue to develop the skills needed to play comfortably and effortlessly in every position on every string before approaching music. Once we begin to study repertoire there is little time to make all the adjustments we need to play pieces at a high technical level. We have to study the elements and gain those skills first without the distraction of music. Even before we start Sevcik or basic etudes, there is an advantage to having a clear understanding and mastery of the building blocks of technique. When playing pieces, every note has its own list of needs based on the subtle and nuanced choices we must make in interpreting music, and it is almost impossible to address each one of those needs while in the process of learning a piece. That work is generally too overwhelming and time consuming to do along with the added step of learning how to play the piece and tends to give us only limited results. The objective with this scale system is to try to learn the kind of mechanical/technical flexibility that one needs before studying a piece and becoming more comfortable with what might be considered a more virtuosic technique enabling you to tackle pieces of any level of difficulty. Nothing replaces the slow work our teachers tell us we must do every day, and there is no way around it except to gain the discipline it takes to do that type of work. This system can help by covering (in a few simple exercises) every position on every string to build the Frame of Hand. This will eventually lead you to better intonation, shifting and ease in higher positions, giving you the time and the freedom to change your mind in a musical phrase, react spontaneously to someone you are playing with or to just be able to realize what your musical instinct and imagination tells you to do with each musical phrase. In conjunction with other scale systems such as Flesch (which assists with scales and arpeggios going up each string focusing on shifting and intonation) and Galamian (that helps with running fingers going across the strings with some shifting but mostly helping with speed, facility and bow distribution), you are being given a more viola specific, useful, complex system that covers every aspect of repertoire-based technique at the virtuosic level.

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