Video Preview sample of classes
Only a peek
We can't show you everything that I am doing with
Preschoolers. But this is a sample that we have on hand from years
of teaching in my studio here in Irvine. Keep in mind that there
are many other little steps and games mastered to make some of these
activities fall together as habits that we don't have time to show you..
To see more and answer some of
your questions you ultimately need to set up an observation. Ms.
Cynthia recommend that you come to several types of lessons that are
possible in this Suzuki program.
Video - PreTwinkle a.1
Tapping the Twinkles
These are children who were
listening to their CD every day with the single repeat button.
Tapping out the first 4 rhythmic variations of Twinkle has become easy
for them. We are tapping out the rhythms in as many different ways
as possible and as you can see the children are enjoying themselves as
they develop mastery and confidence.
Learning bowing is a ball.
In the second half of the
video you can see children working with a ball. This is an
innovation unique to the PreTwinkle Violin Method being developed in the
TEC Studio almost as early as TEC was founded. As soon as children
can tap the Twinkles they need to feel the up and down motions which
their bows will be doing. We like to make these motions as large
as possible. The ball allows them to feel the motion with their
whole bodies and engaging as much of the motor cortex as possible.
The ball work also helps each child develop the upper body skills and
endurance they will need when they finally hold the violin and bow at
the same time. When children enjoy an activity this much you know
it is something their brain needs to do.
Video - PreTwinkle a.2
Box Violin Activity
This child is continuing
to develop the upper body skills he needs to hold the violin with a box
violin, which is custom created for each child with an empty VHS box and
sponge. Not shown are the games that led up to his ability to use
the foot chart and hold something comfortably on his shoulder with his
chin. The violin balances on the shoulder so that the hands are
free to move. Muscles in the neck and shoulders need to be able to
relax into position with out feeling tension. It takes time for a small child to develop the
endurance which allows the violin to feel as if it is an extension of
their shoulder. Because it is a box rather than the real violin
both child and parent can play this violin game with out fear of
dropping the real violin.
Video - PreTwinkle a.3
Up Like a Rocket game
After all of the hard work which you have seen above
you need to end practice with a game that children look forward to.
One of their favorites is 'Up like a Rocket" We are using
the pencil to prepare little fingers to relax while making a bow hold
and keeping the fingers in position. Once again, their are a
number of other little activities that lead up to and prepare those
little fingers for their jobs. The very first song we sing the
first day of class (not shown) is the preschool finger naming song,
"Where is Thumkin". If we know the names of our fingers we
can tell them what to do.
Games like this also help children cross their
midline with their bow hand. This is important because bowing
happens on the left shoulder. Eventually, this game is played with
the real bow which is much longer and heavier. All this time we
are doing games which help the child lift his knuckles so they don't
fall in when lifting and sliding the bow. The Life Saver helps the
child keep an eye on the tip of the bow when the fingers begin to relax
and float with the elbow in front of the body.
Video - PreTwinkle b.1
Arm sliding is used by a growing number of Suzuki
Teachers to help children isolate the motion of the bow arm.
Children need to feel the motion of their hands moving in a straight
line from their shoulder toward their knee on the left side of the body.
This is the path of a straight bow when it is moving on the violin.
Keeping the hand moving in a straight line is not as easy as you think.
The temptation is to let the hand slide toward the right knee, creating
The other thing arm sliding helps students do is
feel which notes are up bows and down bows. They also need to feel
what size and speed of the bow strokes needed for each note. This
requires memorizing bow patterns away from the other distractions
involved with play the violin. Like the ball activities, arm
sliding can be recycled every time children are learning and memorizing
a new piece of music.
Video - PreTwinkle b.2
Bowing on the Shoulder
As children master their bow holds, bow arms and bow
patterns we take time to put these skills together with the weight and
motion of the real bow on that path created by arm sliding. Now
the wrist and elbow need to work together while keeping the bow balanced
on the left shoulder. The first challenge is to keep fingers doing
their jobs on the bow while sliding the bow hand toward the knee and
back up to the shoulder, with out tensing up
It helps to continue feeling the bowing patterns
with the gestures of the whole body. Students continue to recycle
large motor bow patterns so they can have the physical endurance to lift
the bow hand to the shoulder and feel the Twinkle bow patterns as they
get small enough to be played on the violin with the music. Each
time we have upgraded their experience the motions have become smaller
and more precice.
Normally, it would be difficult for a young child to
learn 4 or 5 rhythms like this and control them if we started with the
small motions first. Young children and most beginners do not
detect such discrete movements. But by starting with large motions
and then scaling them down as they master and internalize them even a
young child can develop the motor control to play the Twinkle rhythms up
to tempo with the music
Video - Twinklers
Bow ing on the strings
When PreTwinklers can bow at least 4 of the Twinkle Rhythms on their
shoulder with the music, they graduate to become Twinklers.
Simultaneously, they have been learning to hold the box violin and then
the violin on their shoulders long enough to hold the bow on the string
for at least one Twinkle Variation. A few more steps and
they are playing their first Twinkle Rhythm on the open strings.
Creating a tone on the open strings requires much more personal
attention. These students not need a full 30 minutes of
instruction time to them selves even if they are under 5 years of age.
We encourage them to come and participate more and more in Group
Lessons in addition to their private instruction. We want to keep
building on the friendships which motivated them in their early