Hi all! I wanted to tell you about my experience with scales. As a student, scales were rather a boring mystery. I never had a true understanding and therefore, motivation to do them. I don’t know if it’s the way I was taught or just me being a little immature, but to this day, I really don’t enjoy working on scales. 😛
As a teacher, I’m always trying to stress to my students that they need to know why they are doing something, to ask questions and have purpose in their practice. So when you’re working on scales, I can tell you some things to keep in mind while practicing scales.
It’s important to practice scales, because every audition you do will require at least one scale. As some of you have already said, scales improve intonation. It wouldn’t hurt to study the key your playing a scale in, how many sharps or flats, and the relative minors (harmonic, melodic). A good book to start with is Schradieck’s Complete Scale Studies. You can get a look at this scales technique book at http://imslp.org/wiki/Scale_Studies_for_the_Violin_(Schradieck,_Henry).
Remember this order of importance when practicing scales:
Most important is slow, full bows with perfect intonation. The second important thing is rich, full, unadulterated (no vibrato) tone. The third important thing is speed, which you should eventually work toward.
When you start working on speeding up, you also add slurs. So, first two notes per bow, then four, then eight, and so forth. Also work on adding octaves, starting with only one octave, one position; then two octaves in one position; then two octaves, two positions; and ultimately three octaves, three positions, and that should cover all the scales you play.
Maybe I never liked scales because it seems like as soon as you feel you have accomplished a goal in scales, you immediately have a new, more difficult goal. This almost literally never ends with scale work, so if you start and continue on scales, I commend you!