Games for learning fingerboard geography?

Barb said: Sep 23, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

I’m looking for some FUN ideas for teaching the names of the notes under the fingers (on cello, but violin ideas may translate). I try to get my students to say the names of the notes when they play scales some of the time, and I have charts they can fill in, and flashcards, but really, those are a little boring and don’t engage very well. I also often refer to both note name and finger for incidental learning. I have some students who have a start, but would like them to KNOW without having to stop and think on some notes. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

Barb
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Phyllis Calderon said: Sep 24, 2012
Phyllis CalderonViolin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Piano
Chicago, IL
22 posts

Hi Barb,

In addition to those activities you listed in your post, one of the other things I do is have them spell (play) words on the instrument. I might have the parent and/or students think of words to call out obviously using the music ABC’s, and then the students go around one at a time playing the word correctly.

Hope this helps!

Phyllis Calderon
Director, String Instructor
A Touch of Classical Plus, Inc.—Calderon Music Studio
www.atouchofclassicalplus.musicteachershelper.com

Barb said: Sep 24, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Thanks, Phyllis! We did a bit of that today! Good for this student as he is just learning to spell!

I had forgotten that I also have a game board which looks like a fingerboard and letters to spell with which we have done this on before. It is called “Spelling Bee” and I found it www.denleymusic.com.

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
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Suzanne Brimhall Barraclough said: Sep 25, 2012
Suzanne Brimhall Barraclough
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Salt Lake City, UT
9 posts

Get an old Twister Game (Toys-R-Us still has them here http://bit.ly/QhW4a5
) and some red, yellow, green and blue small index cards and a permanent ink pen. Write with the permanent ink “G” for the Green row (below and above the row)
SO that’s C for Cello
D for the Yellow Row, (G for Cello)
A for the blue row (D for Cello)
and E for the red row. (A for Cello) On the Green Cards write the names of the notes on G string—G#, A flat, A#, B flat etc. For Violins, it only goes up to C# unless you decide to play the 2nd or 3rd position game. For Cello you write C#, D flat for the first dot, and D# or E flat is the second dot etc. (don’t write them on the plastic game please! Write them on the cards :) )
It’s fun to put E flat on one card and D# on another and it’s fine if the children have their hands or feet on the same dot I think. Write all the other corresponding notes on same colored card of each string. The game is played like so:
The students come to group. Bow etc. Roll a die to see who goes first.
Spin the spinner so the student will know which hand or foot goes on which string (color) THEN they pick a card—then they must find the note on their own. Funny—my rule was that I couldn’t help them but I found they would help each other which I thought was good Suzuki Coopreration. When they can no longer sustain the position with their body—boom they are out. If they guess the note name incorrectly I ask if someone else knows and they help them. They LOVE this game… even the ones who don’t know their note names very well. They LEARN them through the course of the One Hour Game. You could also play an easier game with finger numbers for younger students. Does this make sense at all? Your most difficult job as teacher is keeping the student order straight—they get so annoyed with me when I can’t remember who is next!

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

Thanks, Suzanne, sounds fun!

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
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Irene Mitchell said: Sep 26, 2012
Irene Mitchell
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Dallas, TX
111 posts

Sooz, what a fun game, thanks for sharing!
We use and love Teri Einfeldt’s game, this is from her 2010 Conference Presentation:
Timed activity of note names across the string
a. Name the first fingers straight across from g to e string (AEBF#), add “low two” from e to G (GCFBb), add “high two” from g to e (BF#C#G#), 3 from e to g (ADGC). (Irene’s note: I have the kids ‘touch’ their fingers to the string (kinesthetic connection) as they go; & when they’re older, we add low 1, high 3, 4, enharmonics and positions)
b. Time the student (what is her personal best time?) and give her a challenge for the next week. Challenge her to beat it.
c. Casually try it yourself and have the student time you. Eventually challenge them to beat your time.

Irene Mitchell

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

Thanks, Irene—I think this one will work well with the adults, too.

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

Karen Zethmayr said: Sep 26, 2012
Karen ZethmayrViolin
15 posts

I have a big Twister type fingerboard map for group sessions and lessons. Nice large motor break especially for younger kids. Older kids appreciate the silliness of it in a group.
For early Book One, I routinely have kids sing the note names and touch the notes on the page or blown up version of it, as I play the piece in the early stages of their learning it. For many, it helps to let them paste 1/2″ signal dots or other favored stickers on a huge staff during this process. After they sing the piece to me to play, we can reverse roles. Note that they do not attempt to play and read at the same time. After several times singing it to me, reinforced by the CD listening they do at home, they can “read it with their eyes closed.” (They read, I play) This step attaches staff visuals and names or numbers for notes to their auditory memory cache from the CD. I encourage them to repeat the same listen/sing/touch routine while hearing the CD at home.
Huge staves on paper are a big help as a crayon break between activities with violin in hand. The spaces should be big enough to accommodate a finger touch on line or space without ambiguity. Stickers, magnets on the fridge, or crayon marks help the child “live in the lines and spaces” of the staff, for familiarity.
Even smaller kids are fine with letter names if they hear them a lot. The vocabulary you learn is the vocabulary you hear. We often sing the “A string alphabet” (A B Cis D E) as part of warm up. Several ways: sing and walk that 5-tone scale on the twister fingerboard, sing and touch the scale on a giant staff, sing while I (or parent) plays, play while I bow and sing for them.
“Cis” (pronounced “sis”) for C# is used in other languages, German for one, and learning a fancy name for that letter doesn’t throw a little kid any more than the exciting word “hippopotamus,” or “hippopabunnus,” as my son said at age 3. “Cis” only takes 1 syllable and doesn’t muddle the rhythm.
If Mom sings the “number version” and the “letter version” of the piece as she learns it herself, imitation will occur, whether in secret or “on demand.” Parents can help by singing note names even on pieces they don’t actively play.
Do I do each and every one of the above with every student? No, it’s a toolbox to choose from as appropriate.

Karen

Barb said: Sep 27, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Thanks, Karen. All these ideas are great! I love how you incorporate aural, kinesthetic, and visual aspects.

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

Barb said: Apr 12, 2013
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

I finally found a Twister game in a thrift store for $1! Can’t wait for next group lesson!

HERE is another thread re Twister game for cross reference.

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

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