Linking the violin to other parts of the students life

October 2, 2020, 8:47 AM · Two of my violin students are in the fifth grade. I’m looking to try to link their favorite academic classes to the violin. As you are a professional teachers/musicians do you know of any books, articles, resources that link music to Reading and/or Science at the fifth-grade level? I’m trying to make music a part of their larger world and one is an avid reader/writer and the other loves science.

Being child-free I am not aware of what might be available in the larger universe. Any and all suggestions will be appreciated.

Replies (14)

Edited: October 2, 2020, 9:01 AM · This looks interesting. Suggested age range 9-12. Not sure it mentions that he played the violin however but you could pair it with the article below the first link.

October 2, 2020, 9:10 AM · When I was young I was given books with biographies of composers and I recall those were my favorites.

From the age of 9 (starting with a visit to the Hayden Planetarium) I started my interest in science - that blossomed into "physics" in August 1945 - and eventually it became my lifelong source of income. The link between vibrations and violins is indisputable and starting with the ancient Greeks (at least) vibrations have been a basic concept threading through science. Even ancient Asian mysticism hovers around concepts of vibrations and harmonies. And now we have "String Theory" supposedly at the core of everything. Any readings linking those areas should excite the mind of a budding scientist/violinist.

Edited: October 2, 2020, 11:28 AM · Perhaps a book on the physiology of hearing - the ear and how the brain reacts? I could not find one specifically on the ear for children but there area few on the physiology of the human body that have an ear chapter.

I should add, what a great idea! Wish you were my teacher...

October 2, 2020, 5:36 PM · Hrm. That's a tough age. Too old for the numerous picture books that are targeted at a somewhat younger (say 2nd to 4th grade) crowd, but not yet at an adult reading level.

Lindsey Stirling has written an autobiography. I haven't read it, and it's aimed at adults, but you could get a copy and inspect it for kid-friendliness.

October 2, 2020, 5:54 PM · Contrary view - while I might for example suggest linking violin playing with acoustics, I feel from my own experience that that sort of association doesn't make music a bigger part, but rather acoustics and whatever else might be associated with that.

For greater involvement in music, I'd suggest greater involvement in music. More listening, broadly; participation, enjoyment.

Listening to "Blinded by science"? Playing video game/movie music?

October 2, 2020, 6:13 PM · "Toes" by Tor Seidler is about a cat who lives in a basement with a struggling professional violinist. Ages 8+

Probably good for inspiring practice and/or career diversification goals. :-)

October 2, 2020, 6:30 PM · Three fiction books are on my list that aren't illustrated and might be good for late elementary or middle. I'm not really sure either about reading level but for example, the other titles are plentiful in pictures. They are related to violin only in that the main characters are musicians:

The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt - Patricia McLachlan
The Mozart Season - Virginia Euwer Wolff
The Stolen Goldin Violin - Elizabeth Caulfield Felt (disclaimer: this was written by a Suzuki family, though the first listed author is a published novelist, and the setting of the story is American Suzuki Institute at Stevens Point)

Edited: October 2, 2020, 8:29 PM · I suggest books about inspiration and struggle for young people. Yes, books dealing directly with violins are great, however, I'd add books that deal with overcoming difficulties and books that inspire imagination, With that in mind, I recommend three books -

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

While none of these books deal with learning how to play a violin, they inspire young people to believe in themselves, to trust their imaginations, and they inspire a belief in long term success when battling to overcoming challenges and difficulties,

October 3, 2020, 9:30 AM · Thank you everyone!

I'm a follower of the idea proposed by Asimov that you can teach anything if you start where the energy is inside the person. You simply re-direct the energy in the context of the subject.

These two particular students love the interaction of playing duets, unfortunately the parents were not willing to do outdoor lessons and now the weather is getting colder. I've noticed that they are a bit lackluster with minimal outlets so, I thought I'd try to find a link to the other subjects that they like - one is more into reading and writing the other into science.

Mary-Ellen: The Einstein article is perfect! I had forgotten about his love of the violin.

Andrew: "String Theory" indeed, played on quantum violins that play whatever notes they want to when they want to and occasionally just disappear.

Michael: Fantastic! You sort of captured my focus.

Mengwei: These look interesting and might find the attention of my literature oriented student.

Elise: Thanks for the compliment. Actually you are pretty close to my thinking because I'm always talking about turning neural pathways into neural super-highways - right brain to left arm and left-brain to right arm... Lots and lots of biomechanics.

Everyone: I've learned that when I'm teaching anyone anything it is never just the subject at hand.

October 3, 2020, 9:49 AM · I'd be curious what folks have on their lists for a slightly younger crowd -- call it fluent early readers, with bigger print and possibly illustrated to some degree. (Call it more 3rd grade reading level.)
October 3, 2020, 5:09 PM · We live in a society that is highly organized, and one in which various endeavors are differentiated. From an early age children have their day ordered into time at day care, play dates, etc. Think about that. Even play is planned. It is not spontaneous. It’s place, and even who we play with is ordered. Certain behavior and thought is demanded. There is all too little time to explore, as the various organizational and classifications are blinding.

There is such a strong connection between so many things. Long before there was written language, there was spoken word and song. Music was a part of many performances of works of literature. Artists such as Benjamin Bagby are reconstructing music for some of these works. If you have not heard his performance of Beowulf, you are missing out. From a technical perspective meter is common to music and language.

In terms of science Boethius comes to mind, as his discussion of proportions relates to string instruments. With the assistance of a teacher, such material is accessible to young students. From
A more hands on approach you could experiment with strings. The relation between the diameter and tension. How different materials effect the sound.

October 3, 2020, 7:49 PM · These are for younger age / earlier developmental level than the aforementioned fiction novels:
Little Rat Makes Music - Monica Bang-Campbell
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin - Lloyd Moss
Meet the Orchestra - Ann Hayes
Trumpet of the Swan - E.B. White
The Bear and the Piano - David Litchfield

Dealing with real people:
Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay - Susan Hood
Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times and What the Neighbors Thought - Kathleen Krull
The Man with the Violin - Kathy Stinson (depicts Joshua Bell's subway playing experiment)
The Dance of the Violin - Kathy Stinson

For more advanced readers, there is a collection Stories of Composers for Young Musicians compiled by Catherine Wolff Kendall, as well as More Stories of Composers and Stories of Women Composers.

I know George is detached from Suzuki but similar activities can be applied to your choice of repertoire. I've been showing in my online groups where Suzuki pieces can be found elsewhere. For example, my age 8-12 book 2-3 group has listened to Beethoven's Minuet in G played by Grumiaux (this led to discussion on what they heard, what was different from Suzuki editing, what is an encore, etc.), in a clip from The Music Man 2003 film (cue their horrified faces upon hearing the bad brass playing), by Perlman on Sesame Street, and as heard in the "Music Land" episode from Silly Symphonies. Boccherini's Minuet at the end of Suzuki 2 is found in Ferris Bueller's Day Off and the Muppet Show, Long Long Ago in a Star Trek episode, a Brahms Waltz and Schumann's Happy Farmer are found in a few places, etc. These are more culture than literature, but literature can be made into media (and it seems I need to find some more current-day references).

Another intersection is Sherlock Holmes' characterization as being a decent violinist, but now we are straying quite a bit from actual science and violin. (I'm not familiar myself but saw TwoSet's videos reviewing actor portrayals of violinists.)

October 4, 2020, 7:03 AM · Make them listen to music and enjoy classes. They will naturally make music a part of their life if they like it. At that age I took piano classes. And there was a teacher who explained and made us listen to some important work of music before our class started. It made me naturally love classical music and be inclined towards it as one of the funniest things I could do.
October 4, 2020, 11:15 AM · I try to tell my students that the learning process on the violin is a lot like learning other things. Breaking things down into manageable chunks, repetition, being relaxed, observing the mind and how it throws up as obstacles, applying yourself every day, mental attitude, becoming interested in the learning process itself, learning from mistakes, being creative - so many things...

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