Cello—6 Year Old Beginner

Eleanor Bennett said: Apr 24, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Villa Rica, GA
62 posts

Need ideas for teaching a good cello bow hand to a 6 year old beginner.
Eleanor Bennett
Douglasville, Ga

Eleanor Bennett

Nadine Monchecourt said: Apr 24, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
Cincinnati, OH
2 posts

500 bow holds! I like to slide the bow on the student’s fingertips and sing “2 on the hair, three on the silver, pinky on the frog and 1’s just there”. Jean Dexter trained me in the foundations and some of this is from her great work. The child needs to know that the middle finger is 2, the ring finger is three, the pinky is 4. Have you repeated bunny rabbits alot? 500 rocket poems—lots of love and games—see Ed Sprunger’s book, Helping Parents Practice, for the games at the end if you need some game tips.

Eleanor Bennett said: Apr 24, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Villa Rica, GA
62 posts

What is Bunny Rabbits. 500 Rocket Poems. & Lots of Love? We have done the
500 Bow Holds with a sparkle wand. Now his bow band is set at the balance
point & we do bow bolds from that point. He lowers the bow slowly to my
finger which is set so the bow ends up parallel with the floor. Then we
helicopter down to D where he tries to do Mississippi Stop Stop. This is
where everything falls apart. There is a green tape for Go. A red tape for
Stop. And a yellow tape in the middle. The bow goes to the yellow tape for
Mississippi & to the Red tape for Stop Stop. Maybe his little hand needs to
be stronger before playing on the string. The arm comes into play here too.
Thanks so much for your suggestions. If you have time please respond

Connected by DROID on Verizon Wireless

Eleanor Bennett

Nadine Monchecourt said: Apr 25, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
Cincinnati, OH
2 posts

Getting the bow to the d string is a skill too. What does your Suzuki Cello Teacher say or assign?

Eleanor Bennett said: Apr 25, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Villa Rica, GA
62 posts

She says to take a long time before going to the string, but how long?

Eleanor Bennett

Martha said: Apr 25, 2012
Martha Brons
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
12 posts

Six years old! What a great age to start cello!
There are more differences from the violin bow hold than are at first apparent.
After many years of teaching cello, I have finally decided to use a no “bow hold” approach to the cello bow.
(Among professionals, cello bow holds vary greatly, and even from one end of the bow to the other my own bow hold modulates during each bow stroke.)
My students, whose hands are constantly changing, helped me come to this approach.
My invention, the CelloPhant®accessory, has greatly aided me in implementing this approach.
I no longer try to explain this finger goes there, etc.
I present the bow with the accessory already mounted.
I place it on the D string, tell the child to hold the “elephant” softly, and move the child’s arm.
When we hear the first Mississipi Hot Dog, parent, child and teacher all rejoice.
This achieves my goals of producing a nice relaxed bow arm.
I need to make certain that all is in order before this magic moment, however.
The cello must be correctly sized, the chair, or bench, must be the correct height, the student must be sitting well enough to hold the cello.
Enjoy your six year old. He will soon be seven and playing all the Book One songs!

Barb said: Apr 25, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Up Like a Rocket (instead of bent I say “curvy fingers and thumb”)

Bunny rabbit, (and fishing story for violin), laying the bow across the hand, up like a rocket (she’s a little rusty on that one!), beginner bow substitutes.

Paul Katz Bow hold principles—story about a boat crew, etc. (watch part 2, too)

Holding the bow at the balance point, holding it upside down (palm up), holding it vertical (as in Rocket)—these should all help with keeping the hold relaxed.

I don’t think it necessarily has to be a long time before putting bow to string for a 6 year old. It won’t be perfect at first of course, and teaching to let the bow sink into the strings by weight and not by pushing isn’t easy… See this and this—more Paul Katz videos. I’d welcome any further hints on teaching that. I think bow work off the string should continue for a long time, even after they are able to bow on string Mississippi Hot Dog.

Some additional ideas: Stirring a pot of witches’ brew, fishing (palm up, bow is rod, gently bounce to attract the fish), pass a light disposable cup back and forth from bow tip to bow tip, inchworm (like Paul Katz does in one of those videos—but I usually have the kids do this leaning their elbow on their knee—no cello—and holding vertically over a carpeted floor because they likely will drop it!)

Martha, I’d still like to hear more about the transition after using the Cellophant accessory. It seems like a great thing to be able to skip working on the bow hold, but it will have to be learned sometime, and it seems to me like if you were used to feeling the cellophant up into the hand (or fingers, at least), it might be difficult to then change to just holding with the ends of the fingers. ??

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Sue Hunt said: Apr 26, 2012
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
391 posts

You may be interested in 36 Beginner Bowhold Games. These are suitable for private lessons and group classes.

It contains instructions and lucky dip cards for each game
Five of them also have sheet music
There is also a collection of bow hold charts for violinists
You will also find colourful fish to cut out for the fishing game (great for waking up the pinkie)
Music in Practice

Martha said: Apr 26, 2012
Martha Brons
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
12 posts

Hello Barb2,
Thank you for asking about the transition to a regular bow hold.
Having now used the CelloPhant® accessory in my studio of 30 students now for three years, I am finding the transition to taking off the accessory quite easy.
When a student is completing Book 2 and he is using the bow fairly well, producing lovely tone, it is time.
As always, attention does have to be given to the flexible thumb.
If the student starts holding the bow too tightly, we just put it on again.
There is nothing about the bow that really helps the fingers.
I use placing the bow on the string with the left hand to refine the bow hold all the time.
My thought is that all the waving around that seems to help violinists is not so helpful to cellists, although the kids like it.

Barb said: Apr 26, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

That’s good to hear that you are having an easy time transitioning students, Martha. But I still like your violin bow hold buddies better since the fingers are on the stick.

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Terri Parsons said: Apr 26, 2012
Terri ParsonsCello, Flute
14 posts

Irene Sharp has a fantastic video she offers for $100 for teaching young children. I know it’s not Suzuki PC to offer up alternative methods, but her video has been pivotal in my being able to teach children the cello. Included with the video is some discontinued sheet music to start them out. So, you can offer these files to your parents to print out for their young cellist. As for the bow, Ms. Sharp’s view is to “choke them up” to the balance point then as they adjust to the bow move them down in two to three iterations eventually ending at the frog. It has worked marvelously for my students. Being at the balance point allows them to get accustom to the bow without having to wield so much bow from there their hand is and to manage the imbalance of the bow at the frog.

Terri Parsons
Cello/Flute Teacher
Cellist
La T Da Music
www.lajollastrings.com

Barb said: Apr 26, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

I have that DVD too, Terri. For me, the Pathways for Young Cellists book, which I use for some students was the most valuable part of the DVD, there is another one, too, which I printed, but haven’t found myself using. (Not that the rest isn’t valuable, I did glean some things from it, but there wasn’t a lot new for me.)

She demonstrates teaching with a sweet little girl (of 4, I think?) who does everything asked of her…. I would love to see a video made with the difficult child!

I have used the “choking up” on the bow for my new students since viewing it, but not with any little ones [edit—only because I haven’t had any new little ones yet this year!], so it was a very short time before they moved down to the frog.

I mentioned to a friend that I was going to cut some broken and cheap and worthless violin bows (given to me by a dealer who gets them with violin outfits, but switches them out for better bows) to use as bow training aids and he ordered some of these Doodlebows for me (hating the thought of cutting up a bow that might be repairable!). They look fun, but will only be useful for developing the hold, not long enough to practice even short bow strokes on the box cellos.

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Sue Hunt said: Apr 27, 2012
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
391 posts

I have been using Doodlebows for 2 years now. All of my students enjoy using them from the start, as the primary focus is having fun, playing lots and lots of bow hold games. Transferring to a real bow is a doddle after this. By then, they have gained a great deal of experience making and sustaining beautiful bow holds, while having an entertaining time.
Music in Practice

Terri Parsons said: Apr 27, 2012
Terri ParsonsCello, Flute
14 posts

I will look into these bows. I have never had a problem using Irene’s techniques which of course she learned from Margaret Howell. I typically send the child to the frog within three months so it doesn’t take long and the bow they use is certianly not a 4/4 bow. But, you’re right she does teach an adorable child of 4 and well dicsiplined at that. Her mother is the pianist in the video. I just don’t see how she would get her methods across on an unruly child but that is a comical yet sad idea. If I were to have a child such as the ones some of the teachers here have described I would ask the mother to bring them back in a year or two when the child can focus more. It’s not important for a child to learn at 4 or 5 if they are not ready.

Terri Parsons
Cello/Flute Teacher
Cellist
La T Da Music
www.lajollastrings.com

Ruth Brons said: Jun 15, 2012
Ruth Brons
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Livingston, NJ
148 posts

You will find Feedback regarding the patented Things 4 Strings® bow hold accessories for beginning violin, viola and cello students from 100+ private studio and classroom teachers, method book authors/editors, national and international string pedagogy leaders, young and adult students, and parents here.

These popular accessories are now widely available through a distribution network covering 20+ countries: Where to Buy.
Best Wishes,

Angela said: Aug 3, 2012
Angela Villanueva
Suzuki Association Member
Cello, Viola, Violin
Naples, FL
25 posts

I also have a cello student that just turned six (my son). He had a lot of trouble holding the 1/8th size cello bow that came with the cello. It was just too heavy for him to hold properly. At the Suzuki Institute we attended this summer his teachers suggested him using a 1/8th or 1/10th size violin bow until he is stronger. It has worked like a charm. He gets a great sound with not so much effort. My question now is how long before I transition him back to the cello bow and how to do it?

Angie Villanueva

Barb said: Aug 3, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Thanks for the tip, Angie!

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

This topic is locked. No new comments can be posted.

You must log in to post comments.

A note about the discussion forum: Public discussion forum posts are viewable by anyone. Anyone can read the forums, but you must create an account with your email address to post. Private forums are viewable by anyone that is a part of that private forum's group. Discussion forum posts are the opinion of the poster and do not constitute endorsement by or official position of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, Inc.

Please do not use the discussion forums to advertise products or services