Suzuki Fiddling Group Class Ideas

July 18, 2019, 4:27 PM · In September I’m starting to teach a 6-week Suzuki fiddle group class. I’m looking for ideas on games/activities/topics...pretty much anything that would fit specially into the fiddling realm. Brian storm with me!

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Edited: July 18, 2019, 9:42 PM · Cammi, this is topic appears too "open" to me. Is your "Suzuki Fiddle Group Class" a fiddling group for adults? And are you looking to use Suzuki strategies to teach a particular "style" (Old Time, Celtic, Swedish/Scandi, etc)?

And so your adult students already play violin, and you are going to bridge them across to "fiddling"?

Or, are you working with children, just beginning their instruments?

Please excuse my lack of insight into exactly what you are doing in September.

July 18, 2019, 10:43 PM · Since it's a six-week course, you want to think about how many tunes your students (whatever level they might be) can realistically learn. Presumably at the end of the course there will be some kind of performance, so you want to have a nice variety.

But with six weeks you can do a lot more than just learn tunes. You can touch on comparing different styles, ornamentation, chords, chopping, critical listening, and -- if you have a couple of students more adavanced than the rest -- improvisation (soloing).

July 19, 2019, 6:59 AM · Hi Graeme,
Yes, I'm sorry, I should have given more details. The class is open to mid-book-1 through book 2 students, ages 7 and up.

Good thoughts!

July 19, 2019, 8:25 AM · Number 1, obviously you want to keep the notes in the range the already familiar to the students.

When I was teaching (using the Suzuki books) I threw in "Devil's Dream" very early in book 1 as a "fiddle" piece because it used notes the beginners were already using. There are lots of fiddle tunes of different regional origins that fit that mold.

July 19, 2019, 3:02 PM · Irish tunes for the beginning fiddler book by Pamela kather. Mark O’Connor books. American fiddle method by bryan wicklund.
July 19, 2019, 3:12 PM · Sorry, those are books of tunes. I didn’t read your post right.
July 20, 2019, 8:58 PM · OK, so real beginners.

At the end of six weeks, I would like to think the students understood that they must get a lilt into melodies through their use of the bow. I hope you are a fiddler, and can guide the students to use elements of fiddling, like the "basic jig bowing with slurs" (page 26 Mel Bay's Complete Irish Fiddle Player" by Peter Cooper), and one or two other patterns (eg One-Down Three-Up Bowing page 34).

Any tune with "enough quavers in the mix" will give the students the opportunity to build the lilt.

But don't avoid some "technical work", as most fiddlers do, (avoid, that is). The "Fiddler's Red Book of Scales and Arpeggios" by Gordon Stobbe, is a fine illustration of exercises that greatly facilitate progress in learning fiddle, achieving facility with both fingering, and with the bow.

Basically, use the books I refer to here (or similar books, of course) to underpin your own preparation, and show the students how to play with lift, or lilt. And, in a six week course, they should learn six tunes, of course.

Edited: July 21, 2019, 10:33 AM · Let's say you adopt Brian Wicklund's book, which is probably a good one for the level of your students. A great game is to divide the students into two groups and alternate playing one measure each, or two measures. After you teach them chopping they can trade off doing that. If they have all learned up through a certain level in Suzuki you can use some of their Suzuki tunes to teach ornamentation. If you are going to teach them some chords and harmony, you can compare the typical harmony of a fiddle tune to the harmonies in Twinkle, Song of the Wind, and Go Tell Aunt Rhody. That way the knowledge they gain is not compartmentalized into "fiddle knowledge vs. classical knowledge." Once they learn the chords for Twinkle (and you can help them with that!) they can write those into their parts and chop with Twinkle! Then ask them to devise their own Twinkle bowing pattern that would give it more fiddle character. I think you want to make sure that it's not just hands-on but also minds-on.

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