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• • • •Activities
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The Back Room
by Karen Zethmayr
Have Some Tea!
violin/viola left hand position and finger independence
game for preschoolers
The cards here are about 1"
square. Bottle caps are even better if you don't mind making room for
them. Then it's a "tea party" game. The numbers are 1-4, and
we have three of each here. We used three cards for each finger number,
but very small children might do better with a shorter game: two cards
per finger, or even one.
Mom puts first finger on top of a "1" card. On a rug, the card
will tip, just as in Pick Up Sticks. The thumb slides underneath.
If a child has trouble at first
with "finger on top, thumb on the bottom," lower the bar at
first for that detail. Yay for using the right finger
for the right number, and the dexterity of using only one finger and the
thumb for the task. Time enough for "finger on top" as skill
Except for the south paws, most kids reach with the right hand. Gently
remind them to use the violin hand. Another tack is simply to say, "your
bow hand did that just great. Now do the same with your violin hand."
Gaby holds the 2 card with the second finger. Mom at first helped her
to rotate the wrist (elbow comes down and toward the tummy) so she can
see the number. This step will be hard if the thumb starts on top of the
card. Mom can help by turning the card over so that rotating the wrist
brings the number into view. (With bottle caps, this problem doesn't crop
To make sure they remember this rotation step, make a big deal out of saying
"yup, it's a 2," or "hmmm, I think it's a 2." Let them
put their own creative spin on the verbiage; when their hands are part of
the act, dexterity will improve. The freebie is that showmanship has its
place in music.
Now Gaby has the 4 card. She's still at the first stages of learning to
hold the violin, but note what a great left hand shape she's making.
To pass the card to the next person, she turns her hand to look like
a duck. I could have said "rotate your wrist the other way,"
back to top
but ducks are more fun. The card travels from hand to
hand around the circle, each player taking the card "like a duck"
and then rotating the wrist to check out the number. The last person puts
the card face down on the floor.
The next person's turn begins with picking up the card.
For young children, seeing the face up numbers dwindle in quantity helps
their staying power, because it defines the time limit of the game. They
need that light at the end of the tunnel, even if it's a fun tunnel.
To my delight, no one has yet demanded to know "who won." At
preschool and primary grade level, kids simply enjoy the social skills
of taking turns and being in the game. How refreshing! The longer it takes
them to wonder who won, the less I worry.
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Your email will not be sold, shared, traded, or used for any other purpose
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topic in a parent letter about once a month for my own Suzuki families.
Other Suzuki resources
Back to top
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
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/, 2526 Monroe
Street, Madison, WI, 608-232-1510, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Middleton School
of Performing Arts, see http://msfac.org
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