Aunt Rhody

How To Teach Aunt Rhody

This simple folk song is the perfect piece for working on longer bows with smooth legato connections and for learning about musical phrases.Violin Player


As a general principle of teaching and learning, isolating and working with a single skill brings about the best results. This works especially well if a section or technique appears difficult to play, or if one particular aspect of playing needs improvement. If a part within in a piece is hard to play, first identify the actual skill. Is it a string crossing? An unusual stretch? A tricky shift? Which notes does it occur on?

Design a short circular exercise to practise the bare essential skill, e.g. playing on an open string if a rhythm needs correcting (Witches Dance), or playing an awkward slurred run with separate bows (Gossec Gavotte last section).

Aunt Rhody is a great piece for working on tone production, so with this principle in mind, ask students to play the rhythm of the piece on open A string with the recording – before learning the notes. Focus on a pure resonant sound, with relaxed straight bows in the good tone zone near the bridge. Teach students to start from the lower bow marker, using longer bows – almost to the tip – on the longer notes (crotchets/quarter notes).

In this piece, shorter notes (quavers/eighth notes) are played in the upper quarter of the bow, but don’t get too pedantic about exact bow divisions. Keep the student’s focus on good tone and shape.

Bow strokes for Aunt Rhody

Bow strokes for Aunt Rhody

Left Hand

The fingering is relatively easy, using the same range of notes as Twinkle and Lightly Row. Check that 1st finger is kept down on B in bar 2 whilst playing C# and 2nd is kept down in bars 5 and 7 whilst playing D.

The easy fingering makes it possible to listen carefully to each note. Are they exactly in tune? Even very young players can learn to place fingers accurately without requiring adjustment. Laugh in a friendly way when they play a note slightly out of tune and they will enjoy the joke – and play it accurately next time.  Read More →

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