How Do I Teach?
I utilize elements of the Suzuki teaching method and materials, plus the western technique with which I grew up, with an emphasis on basic music theory. Students learn to read music early on, and are encouraged to also play by memory.
At our first lesson, the student learns the difference parts of the violin and the difference between Rest Position and Playing Position. A blank music folder is laid on the floor and a violin is drawn on the inside with all the parts labeled.
Next, the student's feet are traced twice on the outside of the folder, one across from each another and again with the left foot slightly forward. When the feet are across from each other, we call this Rest Position, and the violin rests under the right arm. When the student moves their left foot forward into the other footprint to get to playing position, they are taught a series of movements that takes the violin from under the arm to under the chin.
Later this folder will contain music, so there is an excitement about it as well.
As homework, students are told to study the different parts of the violin, to practice going from rest to playing positions, and to practice holding the violin up with no hands for 30 second intervals in order to strengthen the neck muscles.
These very simple, but exact exercises help engage the children in a lifelong pursuit of combining creativity with diligence.
Students are also given a listening assignment to do with parents.
At the second lesson, there is first a review and then once the student is comfortable putting the violin up to their own shoulder, they are taught how to hold and handle the bow.
With the bow grip established, stickers are placed on the bow to limit the arm motion of the student, and it is then time to teach the four fundamental bow motions in the Suzuki method:
1. Wa- ter - mel - on Wa- ter - mel - on
2. I Like Choc-olate Ice Cream
3. Jack Rab-bit Eats Car-rots
4. Ice Cream (shhh!) Cone
At the third lesson the above four bow patterns are practiced primarily on the two upper strings, the A and E strings and after repetition, which is an essential tool for bringing about confidence, we move to the lower strings as well.
Preliminary training of the left hand for Twinkle is begun by teaching the student the proper hand position on the neck of the violin, and rudimentarily how to place their fingers down on the fingerboard.
The preliminary training can last weeks, and sometimes months, and is not be rushed so that comfort and confidence are gained in a relaxed manner. This helps the child learn that building a good foundation is more important than doing things quickly.
Once Twinkle is started, the student learns to play the tune alone, plainly, then is taught to apply the above four basic rhythms to the same tune until they have five different variations.
Adding small elements each week helps build confidence, which is essential to growth, and songs are chosen for what they have to offer.
I use practice charts and stickers to help the children keep track and be proud of their progress, and I encourage as much parental involvement as possible.
E-mail: David@violin4kids.com, Cell Phone: (347)-495-6342