How to teach a 4YO to open and close her elbow when bowing

Shannon Farley said: Nov 26, 2012
Shannon Farley
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
Madison, WI
11 posts

Hello fellow Suzuki teachers! I have a new four year old violin student that is struggling with opening her elbow when she bows. We are still in the pre violin stage but we will be starting with the real violin somewhat soon. Are there any fun games for a student of this age that could help with facilitating this movement? Thanks all!

-Shannon

Paula Bird said: Nov 26, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

whisper tube

When the student uses the whisper tube, they have to open and close the elbow properly.

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com (blog)
http://teachsuzuki.com (podcast)

Ruth Brons said: Nov 26, 2012
Ruth Brons
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Livingston, NJ
148 posts

“Make the letter L, Make the letter I”
Repeat.

Shannon Farley said: Nov 26, 2012
Shannon Farley
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
Madison, WI
11 posts

Thanks all!!

Wendy Caron Zohar said: Nov 26, 2012
Wendy Caron Zohar
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Ann Arbor, MI
94 posts

Making the elbow into L and I is fine if you are bowing the full upper half; from the middle out to the point. (That comes a bit later!) Young beginners who are just learning to twinkle should be using only about 4″ of bow in the middle. I suggest help the child to find the L, then move up and down from that spot only 2″, and the elbow opens and closes just a little, like a door on its hinge. The upper arm should be still, and the elbow unlocked. The bow stops cleanly, when the bicep muscle tells the bow to stop, not by tension in the elbow or bow hand. The teacher demonstrates, then rests a hand on the child’s upper arm. The sound of the bow strokes should be pleasant and open. Children want to hear that sound! and tend to get it from this. They need to see it, hear it, and feel it.

Wendy Caron Zohar

Ruth Brons said: Nov 26, 2012
Ruth Brons
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Livingston, NJ
148 posts

Quite right, and well-described, Wendy!
I was thinking of this student, as Shannon said, as still in the “pre violin stage.”

Sue Hunt said: Nov 27, 2012
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
390 posts

It is important to wake up the elbow before putting the bow on the strings. Here’s a game from 40 Great Games to Teach Straight Bowing which will get the elbow to open up.

You can play this game without the tube. Just slide the hand softly up and down the stick. This works best if the hand is dry (hence the tube). If you live in a broomless household, put the bow tip on the string and hold it at right angles. Get your child to slide the hand right out to the heal and back. If the hand is soft and dry your child should be able to slide Twinkle rhythms.

Paula Bird said: Nov 27, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

Here is some more in-depth information about the whisper tube:

how to start a beginner—whisper tube information

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com (blog)
http://teachsuzuki.com (podcast)

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