Five Easy Rhythms


Teach Suzuki Violin

Teach Suzuki Violin

For me, rhythm is the soul of music. I love the energy it creates for movement in our bodies and minds.  This is why I love teaching the five rhythms of Suzuki’s Twinkle Twinkle Little Star variations for violin. Watching a three year old student learn these simple rhythmic patterns is always exciting. It is the beginning of their lifelong journey with music.

First I mark out the length of these first bow strokes, by placing two markers on the bow. Often I use narrow coloured tape or small stickers ‐ the upper one is near the middle of the bow. Over the years I’ve positioned the markers more towards the lower part of the bow. There are big advantages for students who become adept from the very start at playing in the lower half.

bow with markers

Before starting the first rhythm, set up basic playing posture as follows: Read More →

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A Violin Hold with Charisma

 As every violinist knows, a correct and relaxed violin hold is an essential foundation to build violin playing ability on and it takes practice to feel natural. A great violin hold does something else. It creates the look of the violinist – part of the charisma of the artist performer.

In this post, I describe how I teach young beginners and their parents to get it right – from the very start. (There’s a teaching violin posture video available for TSV members.)

The first step is to get hold of a good shoulder rest. There are so many types out there – and I’ve tried most. The Canadian-made Kun is pretty good. It’s comfortable, easy to adjust, simple to put on and won’t damage the violin. Make sure the rest is put on correctly, with the high side on the left of the upturned violin

. See how I do it below and the five common mistakes: Read More →

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Making a great bowhold

Learning to make a great bowhold from the very beginning has great benefits down the track, enabling exquisite control of the bow techniques that determine shape and colour in music.  And practising it correctly during the first couple of weeks is crucial, as with any new skill.

I teach bowhold at the first or second lesson to both parent and child, first teaching the parent how to make it, then the student and finally teaching the parent how to teach it at home – going over it until I’m confident they will both get it right every time. Practised carefully every day, reinforced at the Saturday class and reviewed at subsequent lessons, it quickly becomes a habit.

Here’s the 5 steps I use:

  • Place child’s right hand, palm up, on my left palm;
  • Position the bow on the student’s hand with the two middle fingers at the leather;
  • Ask them to place place their thumb (corner) between these fingers and bend it;
  • Place little finger – curved softly – on the stick;
  • Turn over and rest the bow on left shoulder, checking that knuckles are flat and soft, little finger is curved, thumb bent and in position.

Why do I teach it with palm up? It keeps the child’s hand relaxed and the knuckles soft. Members can view a short video at this link – bow hold of me teaching it to a young child at the group class. If you haven’t already done so, please register as a member to view it.

bowhold 4

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Cheers, John

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