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Teaching ideas for three year old violin student

Teaching and Pedagogy: Violin teacher looking for teaching techniques or games for 3 year old student.

From Rebekah Facciuto
Posted January 19, 2010 at 01:22 AM

I am a private music teacher, and I have a three year old student that I started teaching almost two months ago. She has a 30 minute lesson once a week ( a long time for a three year old). She has a very short attention span and doesn't yet understand how to put her fingers down on the fingerboard. I have taught her how to hold the violin and she uses the suzuki beginners bow hand and can pull the bow across the strings. The problem is that she gets fustrated very easily and I am worried that if it becomes too much that it will turn her off music. I was wondering if anyone has ideas for music games or teaching techniques that would be appropriate for someone her age. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.

From Danielle Gomez
Posted on January 19, 2010 at 01:45 AM

 I have taught many three years olds the violin.  I would not recommend trying to get them to play a violin with fingers right away.  Please consider that that is an exceedingly complex task to ask someone who is just figuring out how to write their name.

I suggest breaking down the tasks.  Focus on ONE skill at a time.  Here are some activities that have worked really well for me with kids at this age:

-Hold JUST the violin up with beautiful posture while the teacher plays a short song.  This works on concentration and posture.

-Work on tapping or clapping rhythms without the violin or bow to develop rhythm and pulse.

-Bow games that involve JUST the bow.  Some fun ones that my students seem to like are pass the egg and stir the soup.  Pass the egg you place half of an Easter egg on the tip of your bow and then pass it back and forth to each other using the bow only.  This develops tip control.  Stir the soup you just pretend that your bow is a spoon and stir it around with tip in the air.  You take turns adding items to your "soup."  Try and remember all of the items you already put in the soup before adding new ones.  This develops bow arm strength and the ability to logically remember sequence of events (crucial for music memorizing).

-Violin parades.  Hold JUST the violin in playing posture and then have the student follow you around the room without using hands to keep the violin in place.  This is really hard for 3 year olds.  I suggest doing this over a carpet =) 

-Develop pitch by plucking each string and asking them to tell you which string you plucked.  Then have them turn around so they can't watch you and pluck the string.

From Sue Bechler
Posted on January 19, 2010 at 03:24 PM

Suzuki Association of the Americas has a website with several question-answer forums. You will get good ideas here, like the previous respondent's, but there you can connect with a cluster of folks who have experience teaching the very young. You can also get info about some of the books published which help explain Suzuki, give ideas for games, etc.  // I try to think of violin for these little ones as nursery school w/fiddle loosely attached. Singing games, fingerplays, walking, marching, walking in place to the beat. Learn to sing the first few Suzuki tunes w/words (there are assorted versions around which may be more toddler-friendly than the original words), and perhaps learn to sing Twinkle with letter names or solfege.  The parent should be doing the whole lesson w/you at this point. If he/she doesn't have a violin, she can use the bitty one, or get a cakemix box w/a ruler taped on. You can glue sponges on to approximate chin rest & shoulder rest.  Sue 


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