violin beginners

Violin Beginners – Week 4

By Week 4 our new violin beginners and parents are enjoying the two daily practices. At the group classes they’ve joined both the first session play-along and the beginner group in Session 2 where they are swept up into playing with more advanced Twinkle players. What comes next?

Photo by Dawid Zawiła

Why did Suzuki focus on learning to play rhythms in the beginning while some other music teachers were persisting with reading? It’s all about the growth of ability, which involves absorbing the sound of the music and developing physical skills.

Which are the most important skills?

Ask anyone who hasn’t learned a string instrument to name what looks like the most difficult skill to master on the violin and they’re likely to identify left hand gymnastics, the dazzlingly rapid and amazingly accurate display of fingering up and down the fingerboard.

While it’s certainly true that left hand skills require an immense amount of careful practice to precisely form correct pitches of notes all over the fingerboard at speed, the violinist’s right arm and hand have far more control of the sound – its tone, shape, colour, volume, attack, length, timbre and rhythm, music’s living soul.

How to Achieve Good Progress

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Violin Beginners – Week 3

Two weeks of daily practice and listening to recordings, two studio lessons and two group classes. That’s what’s already happened as Week 3 arrives for our new violin beginner.

Beginners week 3

Photo courtesy of Aaron Burden

The bowhold and violin hold, two essential foundations for learning to play the violin, are starting to feel natural and easier to do. These two skills need to be habitual for our new student to focus attention on the next major advance – learning to play the Twinkle rhythms!

In the first instance, learning to play the rhythms is a physical skill, and as you’ll see below, teaching a new student to play each Twinkle rhythm involves giving them the experience and feeling of the correct bow arm motion.

We’ll show how the teacher helps the student’s bow arm produce the rhythm and as it is refined and improved, listening and making a good sound takes over as the basis for bow control.

Our aim, even at this early stage, is to extend the beginner’s awareness from the up and down of the bow arm to encompass the quality of the sound they are creating. The search for beauty and good tone quality begins at the very outset of the new player’s violin journey.

Main Teaching Point for Week 3 – Learning to Play Two Rhythms on E String

What To Teach in Week 3

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Violin Beginners – Preparing for Week 1

The first 10 weeks of learning violin create a culture and a pathway for the new student’s quick progress and enjoyment – a way of working, especially with other participants in the whole adventure, and establishing new permanent habits to propel them happily forward on the crest of the learning wave, free of the ups and downs of want to/don’t want to practise.

 

To begin with, let’s look at what happens before the first lesson.

Preparatory Session 1

At this stage, the new students have been accepted into the program.

1. Getting the Right Violin and Bow

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How does Twinkle Twinkle make little stars?

Suzuki violinists at the Budokan in Tokyo

Suzuki violinists at the Budokan in Tokyo

I first heard a recording of Suzuki’s Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star variations about 37 years ago – on cassette tape, performed by Dr Suzuki. Now there are at least six recordings of Suzuki’s violin repertoire by well-known violinists of later generations.

What makes this iconic melody so valuable for violin beginners?

It’s a great starting point, enabling beginners to master five basic rhythms and the essentials of finger-bow coordination in one simple piece. Its mass appeal as an easy way in to playing violin is well founded. Over 33 or so years of teaching, I’ve played and taught the Twinkle variations and theme to enthusiastic young children and their parents on thousands of occasions. During our years in Japan, we heard it played in unison by several thousand young violinists at the beginning of the annual Suzuki graduation concerts in Tokyo. The melody and rhythms of the Twinkle variations are a kind of elemental choreography for violin beginners.

What we all know as Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star is actually the English adaption of a French children’s song, “Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman”  (“Shall I tell you, Mother?”) from the 1760s. Mozart wrote a dazzling set of piano variations based on the melody. Suzuki’s use of it as the first piece in his method – to teach the basics of fingering and bowing – reflected his profound understanding of how very young children learn.

How to learn Twinkle

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