Fiddle/Viola Time Scales by Kathy and David Blackwell

Viola Time ScalesIt is so difficult to find accessible and and engaging scale books for students but I think I have found it in Kathy and David Blackwell‘s Fiddle Time Scales and Viola Time Scales!  Filled with fun doodles, these scale books are creative and systematic in guiding students to intelligently learning their scales.

These books engage the student in learning scales on multiple levels.  For each scale, they provide a fingerboard chart to visually show the physical spacing for each finger.  By asking the students to fill in the fingerings for the arpeggios, it helps them to problem-solve what could otherwise be intimidating challenges to a student.  It also presents a silly rhythm with accompanying words, to get the student to quickly apply unfamiliar rhythms to the newly learned scale and arpeggio.

The accompanying page feature short musical pieces in that key.  Each piece focuses on a different aspect of technique, and is short enough to be a sight-reading exercise at the lesson (which the student can practice at home later).  Some aspects of these pieces include: cannons and duets (for independence in playing with someone else), improvisation/composition, double-stops, subdivided and syncopated rhythms, harmonics, pizzicato, and introducing slightly less familiar time signatures such as compound meters.

In summary, I love these books and my students love them too!  After working through these books, my students are more confident in playing scales, they can explain to me what a major or minor arpeggio is and know how to play it, and they are better sight-readers.  I only wish the Viola Time Scales would have a second, more advanced volume like the Violin books.  I am looking forward to exploring more books by the Blackwells, such as their Fiddle/Viola Time Joggers and Fiddle/Viola Time Runners!

Link to purchase the Blackwell’s scale books and method books on Shar Music.

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