THE PRACTICE INSIDER
OVERCOMING PREJUDICES — Classical music fosters an elitist following of deep-embedded prejudices, mantras, maxims, and value systems. Many of these become so ingrained that to merely question them can completely shred your credibility in the eyes of the musical occult.
Intonation is practically the quest for the Holy Grail with string players. Those who've got it don't really know how they got there only to preach practicing your scales. Those without it practice their scales and remain both frustrated and determined to dig in their heels. As someone with a deep musical background prior to coming into learning the violin, I've done so on individual views of my own many would feel fly in the face of skilled classical training.
The ear is actually extremely adaptable. The well-tempered, 12-tone chromatic scale of Western music is human invention. We as musicians train our ears to hear it. But just as we work to train ourselves to accurately hear it, we can train ourselves to inaccurately hear it. The more a player plays a scale degree inaccurately, the more their inner ear trains itself to hear the incorrect note as correct. With a fretless stringed instrument, it is also easy for left hand weaknesses to embed themselves in the ear as learned tuning and deficient intervalic relationships.
My solution is to comb through my intervals and scale degrees (do, re, mi, etc.) with an electric keyboard. You can feed deep-rooted prejudices by scoffing all you like at how feeble it sounds to use assistance, but with focused study, I have found that, in doing so, you can isolate the exact deficiencies in your intonation built into your inner hearing along with left hand inaccuracies. As frustrating as this correctional process can be at times, I am extremely pleased with the results all the way from the beginning of my study to now. The decision's yours.