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"It's a scale AND a video game!"

Posted by ruthbrons on Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Scales ARE so good to do -- the basis for so much we do on the fiddle.

In my studio SmartMusic has revolutionized the introduction of drilling scales.
As my students say: "It's a scale AND a video game!"
This is so popular in my violin/viola studio that I have to be careful to NOT do SmartMusic scales at the lessons when there are other pressing things to be covered, because invariably the student will beg to keep playing scales.
Here's how we play the scale game:
We bring up the desired scale onto the computer screen, using the SmartMusic subscription program, and set the tempo to 30 beats per minute.
Early Book One students can do this on a one octave A major scale, up to advanced students doing 3 octave scales.
The student plays the scale along with the support of harmonic accompaniment and the computer's microphone allows the program to determine a percentage of accuracy with the SmartMusic's Assessment feature.
This feature also lights up correctly played notes in green and indicates in red which notes were played early, late, sharp of flat. Amazing.
Anyway, the game is that if the student scores 80% or higher on the Assessment, then they get to make the tempo faster by up to 10 beats per minute, their choice. We usually set a tempo goal to reach before we start, such as 100, which insures at least seven repetitions -- but most students get caught up the game aspect and beg to keep going until they beat 200, 300 or the maximum, 400. So fun!
If you are not familiar with SmartMusic, check it out at

Best Wishes,

Ruth Brons

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5 comments on “"It's a scale AND a video game!"”

mudbug Says:
Thursday, April 29, 2010 @12:49:07 AM

Never heard of it, but it sounds like a great learning tool.

ruthbrons Says:
Thursday, April 29, 2010 @7:34:23 AM

Check it out -- scales are only the tinest fraction of what the program offers!

Humbled by this instrument Says:
Thursday, April 29, 2010 @1:01:09 PM

Coming from a guitar background, I learned scales all over the fretboard, used to love to throw diminished scales over dominant sevenths, etc. Then I took up the fiddle.... I now only use diminished scales by accident. Thanks,

Fiddlepiper Says:
Monday, May 3, 2010 @12:25:14 AM

Excellent method Ruth! I totally agree with you on emphazing scales. I like the computer idea, and will definitely check into this for my wee kids. Thanks!

Endif Says:
Wednesday, November 3, 2010 @10:00:51 AM

The software looks really useful. I saw scales and other exercises as well. As a self-taught beginner (about 1 year) I find scales and really help. I can tell the difference in my playing when I haven't warmed up with exercises. I really like the idea of software that can tell me how accurate I am when I'm not playing along with something. Thanks for posting this.

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