tapes on fingerboards

Son Tung said: Jul 16, 2017
 1 posts

hello everyone

I can’t decide about tapes on fingerboard. If I put tapes, they can play easily, but students will trust eyes too much and they don’t listen at all. If I don’t put tape, they will listen carefully, but give tremendous amount of pressure and discourage to play. Is there opinion about this issue?

Donna Curry said: Jul 17, 2017
Donna CurryTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Lake Forest, IL
7 posts

Dear Son Tung,

It has been a series of trials and now using only the 1st and 3rd tapes. From the initial lesson, no matter the age the discussion begins with the violin as a tactile instrument of half steps and whole steps. The finger tips feel the corner of the finger before and after placement for the half step, and a consciousness of open knuckles for a whole step.

All the Best,
Donna Curry, Teacher Trainer
Donna Curry Studio, Winnetka & Lake Forest, Il.

Hortencia Romero said: Jul 17, 2017
Hortencia RomeroCello, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Guadalajara JAL, Mexico
1 posts

Hello Hello, I’m a chelist, In my experience I use tapes only for the first finger and sometimes the fourth finger, I do that only in small children, in children like 8 years old for example, I have not had to do it. I think we have to use it as a last option, if they naturally do well, we should not use them I think.

Hoti Romero, Suzuki cello teacher.

Hoti Romero

Paula Bird said: Jul 17, 2017
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
404 posts

I put tapes on in beginning to help practice partner. As soon as a student feels comfortable, we take them off. Sometimes I put one or two back on. If posture is correct, they don’t need tapes.

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

Tanya said: Jul 18, 2017
Tanya CareyTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Glen Ellyn, IL
52 posts

I use dots instead of tapes. Dots give a reference but listening is paramont. Cellists can’t see tapes unless they use periferal vision or turn their heads (not advised). On small cellos the tapes are not straight across to be in tune. I am troubled when I encourage a young cellist to “play in tune” and their reply is “but my finger is on the tape”. I use dots for 1, 4 and tuning harmonics 3 and 1.

Jennifer Visick said: Jul 22, 2017
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1076 posts

I’ve been doing first and third finger only, at the beginning, (violin and viola) for a while now. I purposely use tapes that migrate or get torn off after a while, so that when they do move I pull them off and let the student try for a while without. Then they usually go back on, but the next time the tapes fall off or move, the student may decide they can work with just one tape, for a while longer, and so forth.

When I introduce fourth finger, there’s a tape for that, and then there’s a small sticker for the halfway harmonic point as well, when we start shifting.

I’m also pretty picky about intonation, so consistently asking the student to find the precisely in tune spot means they realize early on that touching the tape doesn’t necessarily mean “in tune”—they still have to use their ears.

After tapes are mostly off, I also will put a tape on for third finger again when a student moves up to a new instrument, if they seem to need it. That one usually comes off pretty soon.

Melanie Drake said: Jul 22, 2017
Melanie Drake36 posts

My kids have star stickers on their cellos. I was told that the stickers are for the parents, not for the kids. My kids never reference their stickers unless their parent or teacher specifically asks them to look at them. The stickers sit between the D & G strings and I’m not sure they offer any tactile assistance.

I have to say that, as a parent, I’d be a little lost without the stickers. I often reference the stickers in my notes from lessons (e.g., “2nd finger needs to be closer to green star”). I have a hard time imagining how my notes would read if I didn’t have these landmarks, but I imagine I’d use a lot of question marks (e.g., “3rd position? (maybe 4th pos?), 2 finger higher???”). I realize that the kids are supposed to find the finger positions by ear, which is great, but I find that I need to articulate adjustments in visual terms in my notes.

The stickers fall off eventually, and I take pride when that happens because it’s an indication of hard work. I know that one day they will not be reapplied, but I assume that will be when my notes are no longer needed.

Edward said: Aug 3, 2017
Edward Obermueller
Suzuki Association Member
Morris Plains, NJ
73 posts

From a brain development and cognition standpoint, students need both visual and audio to deeply absorb a concept or movement.

I want to echo what Jennifer Visick said about combining tapes with careful listening, because that taps all the learning modalities.

Latest research on the brain tells us that everyone learns with visual and auditory and kinesthetic modalities, all three working together (contrary to the popular assumption that students are only one kind of learner).

So, we shouldn’t necessarily shy away from visual learning or relying on the eyes, as a way to get a framework started for listening, and to enhance understanding of what needs to happen kinesthetically.

Here’s a method you can use with or without tapes to make fun exercise for students to practice left hand accuracy:

Find The Right Address

And an article on how I use visual methods: Four Ways To Teach Visually. I hosted a webinar on this topic recently, planning to do it again soon, so be sure to get on the email list if you are interested.

Hope this helps!

Happy practicing,

Free Guide: Mom, Dad, Can I Practice?
Free Game: Leprechaun Practice System --> Works for online teaching!

Follow On Instagram

Laura Kuennen-Poper said: Aug 22, 2017
Laura Kuennen-Poper
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
Oberlin, OH
4 posts

FWIW, I have the beginners “earn their stripes” one finger at a time (mastery of putting down/picking up finger without squeezing w/thumb, with correct hand position). Then they get to “earn” getting the tapes taken off, by playing in tune without looking at their left hands. The kids seem to like it, and non-musician parents are relieved to have a visual cue at the beginning. Rarely, we will use a finger tape again when learning shifting, but it usually stays on only a couple weeks.

Claire Devries said: Aug 22, 2017
 34 posts

Thank you for bringing up this topic. I’m a parent and my son coincidentally moved a size up of his violin. Since we are on (studio’s) summer break, I have no teacher to put on the new finger tapes (nor I know how to) on his now new-size violin, but he seemed comfortable playing “by ear” of all of his old songs. Yes, sometimes he plays a few notes out of tune but they are in general vicinity (maybe a bit flat or sharp). He looks on his finger board and bow when he plays, sometimes he’d look around, too, but I don’t feel he plays 100% by sight.

I wonder if there are any ear training out there that I can use to supplement our daily listening to Suzuki songs (just to sharpen up that hearing on each note). I hope this does not “hijack” the thread much and I appreciate any input. If this is any help, my son is 6 yo, started a little more than a year ago, almost nearing the end of book 1.

Marian Goss said: Aug 23, 2017
Marian Goss
Suzuki Association Member
41 posts

As a Suzuki teacher for more years than I can count, I do believe in the use of fingertapes. Particularly if a child is a beginner or has moved up in size. The tapes give the child and opportunity to play in tune from the very start, when the fingerboard is relatively new. This gives them a huge advantage over students who are constantly searching for the right note. I think Suzuki teachers differ in their opinions on when to remove these tapes. Sometimes all that is needed is a third finger tape. Students who use both C sharp and C natural no longer need a second finger tape. And if the child has learned how to play B flat, they can use the nut for reference. I think the most important thing you could be doing is the tonalization printed at the beginning of every volume of the Suzuki literature. The totalization gives the child an opportunity to listen for “ringing tones”, the echoes that are produced an octave in either direction. Open strings will ring if the octave above or below is played in tune. I typically have students play the variation A twinkle rhythm so the bow has many chances to produce a ringing tone on those third fingers. Then we add long bows and see if we can get that same echo. Once the child has mastered ringtones, there really is no need for tapes on the fingerboard. The one exception might be if the child is shifting into a new position. Sometimes a tape can be a visual aid until security of the new geography is accomplished. If you haven’t already, check out Barber Barber’s “Fingerboard geography” book. It’s both a visual and physical way of understanding finger patterns. Good luck!

Claire Devries said: Aug 23, 2017
 34 posts

Marian, thanks so much for your input! When you said about tonalization in Suzuki book, are you referring to the “hand frame” positions? (i.e. hand frame 1, 2, etc. that comes with pictures of each)? If so, do you just play the note one by one to hear if they are ringing? Thanks again, very helpful and we’ll definitely get those finger tapes on once we resume with lessons next month.

Marian Goss said: Aug 24, 2017
Marian Goss
Suzuki Association Member
41 posts

I do remember some photos of these hand positions in the first book. But the tonalizations are actual written exercises and volumes 2 through 10. You will see them written in the keys of G Major, G minor, C major and C minor. And books 3 and up, they assign different positions to the same notes. But the goal is always the same, a solid tone with ringing notes. Look for these exercises in the beginning of each volume. Sometimes when a new key is introduced, another tonalization is written just before the song in the new key.

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