How to Memorize Scales Very Quickly on Viola

Memorizing scales on the viola seems overwhelming until you learn to visualize the notes in each scale. Since violists who are trying to memorize the major and minor scales already know how to finger and play scales, the only thing left is learn the note patterns in each scale. Violists can play all 24 major and minor scales as soon as they memorize the key signatures for each scale. Then in conjunction with visualization techniques, it is possible to quickly memorize the scales without even touching the viola.

Step 1 Create flash cards for all the major and minor key signatures. On one side, write the alto clef, a staff system, and sharps or flats in the correct order for all of the keys. Write the major and minor key that matches the key signature on the opposite side of the flash card. Quiz yourself until you no longer need to think about the keys.

Step 2 Visualize the C major scale using a visualization process. In your mind, visualize the first note C as it appears on the alto clef staff. Start with the C two spaces below the staff. Practice visualizing the entire scale on the musical staff in your mind. By doing this, you can memorize entire scales and play them as if you are reading the music in front of you.

Step 3 Play a C major scale on the viola with your eyes shut. Concentrate on going slowly and visualizing each note clearly and distinctly. The first time you complete this task will be the most difficult. With additional practice, visualization of scales will become more clear and simpler for you, making it possible to memorize any scale on the viola if you know the key signature.

Step 4 Memorize the A natural minor scale in the alto clef using the visualization process. Natural minor scales use the notes found in the key signature for A minor and uses the same key signature as C major.

Step 5 Imagine that you are playing the viola without the instrument in hand. Visualize that you are playing every pitch on the instrument. Imagine your fingering and the position of your fingers, while reading the scale from a sheet of music. By visualizing the playing of scales, you can learn them more quickly than with playing alone.

Step 6 Learn all the major, natural, harmonic and melodic minor scales. Start with the major and natural minor scale first. Then raise the seventh scale degree for a harmonic minor scale. Raise the sixth and seventh scale degree on a melodic minor scale ascending and lower them to play a natural minor scale descending.

Use the "Circle of Fifths" to double check your flash cards. The order of sharps is F, C, G, D, A, E, and B. The order of flats moves in the opposite direction: B, E, A, D, G, C and F.


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