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Updated: October 25, Scales Flesch vs Galamian The scale systems by Carl Flesch and Ivan Galamian are by no means the only in existence, but they have been the most widely used by violin students and teachers for many years. The systems are different in profound ways and each has valid applications for the modern violinist.
Both Galamian and Flesch were master teachers, each from a long line of violin pedagogues. Carl Flesch was born in Hungary. He began playing at the age of five, and was accepted into the Vienna Conservatoire aged just He maintained that all violinists should be schooled sequentially and defined each technical step clearly on the principle that tone quality, intonation, technical proficiency, listening and hearing skills are all things that can be taught.
Ivan Galamian studied in Moscow. His concert career was short. It was speculated that this was due to chronic kidney stones which left him in great pain after every performance. Galamian used to chain-smoke his way through lessons, perhaps to diminish the pain and keep it from interfering with his teaching. You cannot do both equally well. One or the other will suffer. He disagreed with the idea that the violin must be taught from a physical angle, stating that technical mastery depends on the control of mind over muscle, rather than agility of fingers.
He also felt the interdependence and relationship of the many technical elements was neglected. Here is a video of a lesson given by Galamian, cigarette in hand, to a young Joshua Bell. Between the fourth and fifth minute, you can here a G major three-octave scale, from the Galamian scale system. The entire study for that key is contained in one place in the book in sections numbered 1 through Sections One-octave scales which are essentially shifting studies Section 5: Three-octave scale, arpeggios, broken thirds and chromatic scale Section 6: Three-octave scale and arpeggios in thirds, with broken thirds and chromatics Section 7: Three-octave scale and arpeggios in sixths, with broken thirds and chromatics Section 8:Three-octave scale and arpeggios in octaves, with broken thirds and chromatics Section 9: Three-octave scale and arpeggio in fingered octaves, with broken thirds and chromatic scale Section Tenths Section Artificial harmonics Section Chords with artificial harmonics In the new edition there is some attempt to cover four-octave scales but it is not very comprehensive and serves to further overwhelm the student with material.
As you progress through the book, different rhythms, bow strokes and bowings are suggested for the study of each key. Each scale from B flat major up uses the same fingering, always beginning on the second finger. This way, the spacing is learned for every position and intervals remain the same for almost every major and every minor key. Flesch instructs that scales should be practised slowly for intonation and rapidly for facility, and that the key must be changed every day.
In the modern edition, Max Rostal suggests in his preface that the key may be changed twice a week. He also explains that focus should be on the legato bowing with bowing exercises added later, as the initial goal is to develop left hand technique.
Legato playing allows for the development of inaudible shifting and controlled string crossing. Rostal also suggests less time consuming programmes for studying the system, selecting parts of the designated key each day. This is all perhaps rather overwhelming. Particularly since the advent of television and Internet we all have much less time to practice. This system would be ideal if within 45 minutes each day we were able to cover a complete key as Flesch suggests, but it is not actually possible to do!
What can happen is a lot of arduous, unrewarding work and the onset of a deep hatred of scales because Flesch just seems too difficult. The Galamian system, Contemporary Violin Technique is more visually approachable, and is also less prescriptive. It comes in two volumes Vol. Volume One covers single stopped scales. The sections are: Scales in one position.
Carl Flesch Scale System for Violin - Revised by Rostal - Fischer Edition
Flesch, Carl - Scale System - Viola - arranged by Charlotte Karman - Carl Fischer Edition