Lightly Row

Lightly rowing down the river

Congratulations!! If completing the Twinkle variations feels like a monumental achievement for beginners, then moving on to Lightly Row produces the excitement of progress. The purpose of this piece is to extend the bowing and fingering skills with new note steps and combinations.


Every day beginners will have already practised the rhythm and bowing without fingers on open A or E string in their morning playthrough with the recording. Focus on producing a clean resonant tone, using the same amount of bow as in the Twinkle theme. At first these can be smoothly connected bows, then separate them a little – to give each note its own voice.

Bows and fingers together

Lightly Row begins with a downbow on E, then two bows on C# on A string. This means a quick and careful crossing to A string in the upper part of the bow. Keep the right elbow low and relaxed.

Before playing, get into basic posture with 2nd finger ready above C#. Now play the first E and stop. Quickly place C#. Then silently cross to A string. Play the two C#s.

Leaving your 2nd finger down on C#, place 3rd on D and play. Now place 1st on B, lift other fingers together and play the two Bs.

Keep fingers down when ascending A, B, C# and D. Lift them off to play E, E, E. Make a habit of leaving down lower fingers when placing higher ones. This helps fingers become consistently accurate and secure.

Bars 7 and 8 need careful repetition with clean string changes. A C# E E C# C# C# – this small section requires more repetitions, mainly because of the string crossings. Practise slowly, starting with an upbow or downbow.

Lightly Row bars 7 and 8

Lightly Row bars 7 and 8

Musical expression

Lightly Row has four phrases – each four bars long. The best way to teach how to play them musically is to sing the melody, taking a breath at the beginning of each phrase. Play the phrases in the same way, keeping the melody flowing without breaks to the end of the phrase. When playing, take real breaths as if singing.

The 3rd phrase is a good opportunity to introduce a crescendo, as the melody rises from the repeated Bs to D.


There’s a video of this piece, played slowly – on the video page.

Thanks for your interest in Teach Suzuki Violin! Please make a comment or send me a question, or if you want advice about any piece in the Suzuki repertoire, I’ll be only too happy to help.

Cheers, John

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