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• • • •Activities
• • • •
The Back Room
by Karen Zethmayr
and what we do with them
A gallery of kid-made violins
Anything goes for building materials as long as it's not
too heavy, and the thickness and length match the child's real violin.
Try a styrofoam tray with a plastic paperclip for a bridge and a chin-rest
marked out in felt pen. Pluck the rubber-band with either hand to develop
Or how about one of those ubiquitous cyberfrisbee packages? A rolled piece
of junk mail serves as a bridge. If the box is flimsy, tape it shut and
stuff it with paper.
Here's the same assortment, bottom view. The styrofoam
tray, being concave, needed a thick sponge for a shoulder pad.
The shoulder pad for the cyberfrizbee box is a "tire
cleaner" sponge with a nice concave edge to fit the shoulder.
Now we get fancy. If you enjoy art projects, go ahead
and make it fancy as Hannah and her dad did. Doing this kind of project
helps you notice different parts of the instrument.
Such elaborate creations are not required, but they can be fun for the
child so inclined.
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We use box violins
often during the lessons in which the parent learns to play the Twinkle
Variations, but we continue to use them after the child has begun to use
the real one. We use the box violins (way less delicate!) to practice
movement and freedom of movement. (How many things can Nina (right) do
freely without dropping that violin? Stories, drama, and rhythm games
are essential and fun components of this phase.
Nina – no hands
• Suzuki teachers invent many games to build both rest position
and playing position. Both are important in stage etiquette and in coordinating
a large group of small beginners. The more times one gets in and out of
those two positions correctly, the more easily the body falls into movement
patterns that allow the child to play in reasonable comfort, and become
one with the instrument. Too often we waste precious practice time just
learning the notes, and we lose all but the first three minutes to bad
habits and frustration.
• To reinforce good left hand movement, one story we use is the
Three Billy Goats Gruff. The left hand, stationed at the shoulder of the
violin, makes tapping sounds as each goat crosses the bridge. Use different
rhythms as sound effects for this part of the story. The right hand plays
the role of the troll. (Left hand - right hand independence is sometimes
an issue for little ones, and the game helps.)
• You can attach things that make a little joyful noise. Children
in a group session who are listening to others play a piece they have
not yet learned can add rhythm in key places using the box violins. At
home, explore the soundmaking possibilities of everyday objects. Below is a great add-on; a classroom chime.
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Attach the chime to the box with a rubberband. The "frog" on
the mallet is an eraser. Hold the box violin in the usual way (the blue
foam is the chin-rest on this one.) Head and shoulders hold the violin
for amazing hands free operation.
Hold the mallet as you hold the bow. Practice rotating the wrist without
losing the correct bow grip. At first the chime may sound thuddy when
you play it, but as you loosen the wrist and let the mallet bounce off
the chime, the sound improves. This is the same lightness of touch you
need for bowing. (See pencil
exercises for bow hold)
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Supplementary Music and Midis
Twinkle Rag –
a twinkle variation with a new twist on half of the rhythm in
Variations A and D. Same four sixteenth notes in a ragtime setting
Daisy Daisy uses a three four twist
on "Mississippi without the hot dog." The whole accompaniment
is open D and G. The song and bass line can be played as a violin
/ 'cello duet or on the piano.
more information on the Monroe Street
Fine Arts Center Suzuki program, see Monroe
Street Fine Arts Center, http://www.msfac.org/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Middleton School
of Performing Arts, see http://msopa.net or email email@example.com.
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Email Karen Zethmayr firstname.lastname@example.org • Teaching Resume • Design