Practice Videos for Beginning Violin Students

August 19, 2020, 12:40 PM · These practice videos are designed for beginning violin students, to help them acquire the skills needed to play the Twinkle Variations, the first piece in Suzuki Book 1. I created the videos in 2008 for a first-grade, modified Suzuki violin class at McKinley School, a public school in the Pasadena Unified School District in California. (Find the full curriculum for that by clicking here.) Thus, some of these 12-year-old videos are a bit grainy, and a few feature my now-grown children, Natalie and Brian! Nonetheless I hope you find them helpful for beginners, to help them practice, and for teachers, to inspire ideas for working with very young beginners.

Here is a playlist of all the videos, in progressive order. Below are links to the individual videos, with descriptions of the skills they are meant to help teach.

Suzuki Clapping Rhythms
Learn to clap these rhythms, which will be used in these Pre-Twinkle songs and then later in the Twinkle Variations. They are in order of ease (not in order of the variations), for beginners.

This Is the Scroll
A song about parts of the violin, for pre-Twinkle Suzuki violin students

The G-G-G- Song
Remember the names of the strings, and teach your voice to sing them as well.

The Numbers Game
The numbers game teaches how to get from rest position to playing position, exercising large muscles in the process. There is a call-and-response, which also helps in the classroom.

Making a Bow Bunny
Helping the right hand to form the correct shape, in preparation to hold a bow.

Pencil Bow Hold
How to hold a violin bow - an exercise that uses a pencil to help the right hand form a correct bow hold.

The Peter Pan Bow Story
Here's a little story to help beginners remember how to place their right-hand fingers on the violin bow.

Relaxed Bow Hand
Forming a bow hand, from a relaxed right hand. This shows the "beginner bow hold," with the thumb on the ferule. The thumb later is moved onto the stick when the student is slightly more advanced.

Up Like a Rocket
An activity to practice holding the bow properly, while also differentiating an up-bow from a down-bow.

Rest Position Song
It's important to be able to stand in "rest position" - here is a song to help teach it.

The Noble Duke of York
This song and exercise helps young children tell the difference between "up bow" and "down bow."

Silent Rockets and Booms
Once the student can hold the bow, here's a way to exercise landing softly on the string, then practicing the arm movement needed for string crossings.

Irish Jig (long version for play-along)
The "Irish Gig" is a duet, with all open strings for the beginner, who can play with the teacher or a more advanced violinist - or along with this video. Here is the sheet music, for students and teachers:

The Bunny Song
This is a pre-Twinkle song that helps teach string crossings between E and A strings.

A song that helps beginners prepare the left hand for how to hold the violin.

Where is One Mouse?
A tactile activity and song to help beginners remember the numbers of their fingers, as used on the violin.

Mumbly Mice
Beginning finger placement: Helping students place left-hand fingers on the string, one at a time, in the correct places.

Leprechaun Song
Song that helps beginners place the first finger on the violin.

The Musical Alphabet
The musical alphabet goes only up to G, then it starts over again! Here is a fun way to help beginners remember that, and to practice starting again at A once you reach G.

Kangaroo Song
Song that helps beginners place fingers 1, 2, and 3 on the violin. Click here for written instructions for the Kangaroo Song.

Cat Kitty Song (slow version)
The Cat Kitty Song teaches a version of an A major scale, using the rhythm from Twinkle Variation C. Click here for written instructions for the Cat Kitty Song.

Cat Kitty (faster)
The Cat Kitty Song teaches a version of an A major scale, using the rhythm from Twinkle Variation C. Here's the faster version. Click here for written instructions for the Cat Kitty Song.

Rabbit Habitat
Here is a way for beginners to visualize the musical form of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," complete with cute bunnies. (Thank you to Suzuki master teacher Jackie Maurer - my poster is based on her original image.)

Twinkle on E, Variation A - just bow, no fingers
Beginners can practice along, playing Twinkle Rhythm A on the E string, while Mrs. Niles plays the variation.

Twinkle Variation A (beginning, placing fingers)
Very first try at Twinkle Variation A, just the beginning. Mrs. Niles breaks it down into steps.

Twinkle Variation A (full version - slow speed)
The beginning basics of how to play all of Twinkle Variation A. Mrs. Niles breaks it down into steps.

Twinkle Variation A (full speed)
Once Twinkle Variation A gets a little easier, your student will want to speed it up. Here is a version at full speed.

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August 20, 2020 at 12:28 PM · You must have given those kids such a valuable experience that they will hold on to for a long time. Thank you for for sharing these videos!

August 20, 2020 at 01:33 PM · Thanks for giving these out for free again. We are in very hard times and you are making it easier to learn to play the violin. Bravo!

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