In the violin world, my primer is a collection what you call "pre-twinkle" exercises. While an older student may learn to play "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" within the first few lessons, there are quite a few violin and musical skills that a child needs in order to be able to play this violin standard. For younger musicians I find that it's better to isolate these skills and master them one at a time. I've organized the lessons in my primer to do this. The focus in Super Strings! is helping students to develop their violin SUPER powers-- a.k.a. musical skills.
In this violin book I've chosen to use word associations to teach rhythm. I remember when I was taking piano lessons my teacher told me to use the word "raspberry" to count triplets. Later, when I was learning to play triplets and duplets, she said to piece those rhythms together with the phrase "nice cup of tea." The word associations were so intuitive that I still remember them. In my violin primer I wanted to be able to tell stories with a cast of characters, so this is what I came up with:
Using these characters I was able to tell a story with pictures and notes.
My students have absolutely loved using flash cards to create their own rhythmic combinations. And then, once we reach their repertoire pieces I'm able to use words to remind them of their rhythmic combinations.
Another important thing to consider when teaching very young students is the "wiggle factor." Young children just have a hard time sitting still for very long. BUT if you're able to focus and channel and this wiggle energy in your lessons, then both you and the student have won! One of the ideas I came up with to teach the open strings allows kids to move during the lesson, while also learning.
Each of these super musicians represents an open strings. I wanted their body position to represent the pitches, so the lowest pitch is sitting down and the highest pitch is reaching his arms up into the air. My students have loved striking these super musician poses, and the kinesthetic connection to the notes works wonders in helping them remember which string is which.
In my next post I'll discuss some of the review and fingering techniques that the the violin book teaches young musicians. Check back in a few days! Or learn even more about the violin book at SuperStringsMethod.com