The chicken, the cat and the caterpillar

October 20, 2011 at 09:11 PM ·

Hi all,

In Monday's lesson, my teacher used the example of a hen sitting on her eggs to illustrate the contact of bow and string, and a caterpillar or a worm for shifting. For relaxation and fast, targeted left hand action, one of my teachers in the past used a cat as an example.

There must be many more beautiful examples of animal metaphors in string teaching. Anyone?


Replies (8)

October 21, 2011 at 08:08 AM ·

I'm trying to learn to do slides and I've been watching professorV video (Mr Todd Ehle). It isn't about an animal, but I found it very, very nice when he said something like  "it's not an helicopter, but an airplane", about the new finger landing on the string.

October 21, 2011 at 03:01 PM ·

I call this exercise the Chicken Flap:  In playing position, place the bow on the G string (at middle, tip, or frog).  Without making a down or up bow, roll the bow from the G string to the E string, E string to the G string, repeat.  The right shoulder stays lowered and still, while the arm level finds the string.

Also, sometimes when a student is supposed to be playing a passage at the lower half of the bow, but drifts up towards the middle, I'm not above making a frog noise (riddeep!) as a reminder to work back to the frog.  (Insert smiley here)

October 21, 2011 at 04:19 PM ·

 When trying to describe which muscles are controlling the bow my teacher often told me imagine that I was a butterfly or angel trying to fly, to activate the involuntary muscles in the back.

October 21, 2011 at 04:33 PM ·

 For the action used in the fingers of the bowing arm at the heel of the bow (when they do that subtle, relaxed movement in order to have a smooth direction change), my first teacher told me it was like a jellyfish. I always have referred to the jellyfish since then!

October 21, 2011 at 07:03 PM ·

Hey, this is violin playing we're talking about here. These metaphors have got to be real sophisticated:

"You have to bow it as ephemeral as an ocelot on steroids."
"When you bring your fingers down on the strings, see yourself as marionette ballet dancer whose strings are being pulled by an obsessive-compulsive neurosurgeon."
"Bring out the melody like a larva metamorphosing into a praying mantis."
"That shift has to sound like an elephant climbing a tree."

Well, maybe not those, but lighten up anyway. Make it fun.

October 21, 2011 at 09:49 PM ·

My teacher told me to do the bunny rabbit hold 2 middle fingers are teeth. Pinkie is a bent ear other ear just laying there holding down the bow.

October 22, 2011 at 06:06 PM ·

Habitual rushers get a turtle drawn on their music.

I need a turtle ink stamp for some of my students...

October 24, 2011 at 08:31 AM ·

A lovely one is to think of the neck of the violin as being something very soft such as satin or silk instead of solid wood!

In order to develop suppleness in the left hand so that all contact with the neck can be as gentle as possible it's nice to imagine the centre of the hand containing a soft, tiny bird which needs to be able to breath.


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