Correct Placing of the violin Under The Chin—Steps

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said: Sep 1, 2010
 2 posts

I would like to teach my class of very young children how to place the violin correctly under the chin in an orderly process. Right now it is a mish mosh, and few kids have it correctly. The class has 20, and it’s very time consuming to show each kid separately. Is there a process of steps, such as : step I hold the violin with the left hand out in front of you, Step II, turn the violin so that body of the violin is facing the ceiling (the neck and scroll pointed towards the floor), step III look to the left, step IV place the violin under the chin, and so forth. I saw this done and now can see the value of it, but so far I haven’t tried it. Is it part of the Suzuki method? And was I correct in the steps above? Can you explain this procedure? Or provide another procedure for this first and basic skill? Thanks so much…..my e-mail is: [javascript protected email address]

Jennifer Visick said: Sep 2, 2010
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
997 posts

there are some “steps” that have been widely shared across the suzuki community in certain areas, but the steps themselves are not prescribed by the Suzuki method.

Are you teaching a group class where each student already has a private teacher? If so, I would invite the parents, who, presumably, are at their child’s private lesson, to come and set the instruments on their child’s shoulder in the manner that their private teacher has shown them.

If they don’t have private teachers, or if the parents aren’t present, then the “steps” you give in class obviously become a lot more important.

Some suggestions:

(this one from a book 2 teacher training course with Susan Kempter, some years back) Step one—hold the violin in front of your belly button, tailpiece/end button in the right hand and neck of the violin in the left. Step two —hold the violin over your head. Step three—look a little bit to the left. Step four—slowly lower the violin, bringing the button directly past your nose, gently land on your collarbone.

(This from Laurie Scott at a “suzuki in the schools” level II teacher training course this summer) Bring a camera and make one class into an “album cover photo shoot”— find some examples of album covers where the musician is featured playing their instrument on the cover and bring them in as examples—then make a big deal of getting each student to “look like a pro” (which is a secret code for getting the instrument in the place that you assess as correct, non-injurious placement). Hopefully the photo-shoot idea will help them remember what they did to get into that pose…

Once they are printed you could do all sorts of things—post them on a bulletin board (publicity!), give a copy to the students to keep in their case, assign the students a “coach” (if their parents are not present) to use the photo as a comparison for getting into a “professional” playing position, etc., etc. If there is a large mirror you could even flip the images on a computer and tape the “mirror images” on the mirror so kids can self-assess (but I wouldn’t hand kids the flipped images… this could create major confusion)

said: Sep 2, 2010
 89 posts

I still remember the song that my son’s first group teacher sang (ahem, ahem) years ago. (He’s a college graduate now…) Starting in rest position…

Put your hand on your violin
One, straight out
Two, turn it over
Three, look at me
Four, tuck it in
Five, fix your bow hand
Land on the E string
Now it’s time to play.

said: Sep 2, 2010
 2 posts

Thank you for these tips. I can see that each teacher develops his/her own method and what ever works should be used. My significant other used the method I described, i.e., step I, hold the violin in your left hand out in front of you, step II, turn it upside down with the scroll pointing toward the floor, etc. This is to get everyone to move at the same time, she also played a chord on the piano for each step, and everyone was doing the same thing and it worked. I used to help her and observe, and now I am doing this to much larger groups of kids, but I actually haven’t tried it, yet. I work for a company that provides music lessons after school, and they have their own methods (not Suzuki), but no method for teaching this first and basic skill. I was wondering how it was done under the Suzuki system. Every teacher works within the framework of their personality, and possibly my personality doesn’t go well with such young children. I think women work better with that age group, but I’m getting there. ( I was a teacher/administrator, and I am still professional violinist). Again, thank you for this help. (Maurice Kelhoffer)

Jennifer Visick said: Sep 4, 2010
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
997 posts

I should say that the “hold the violin out, then turn it upsidedown, then bring it to the shoulder” has been VERY widely used in the past, BUT it seems to be going out of fashion in all the most recent Suzuki training courses I have taken—in part due to the rise of awareness about ergonomically “healthy” ways of moving your body.

Part of the reasoning Susan Kempter gave behind having kids hold the violin with both hands and raise it above their heads before lowering it to the shoulder was because it is (apparently) very bad for the small muscles in your neck/shoulder/arm to hold an object at arm’s length in one hand, flip it over, and then bring it towards you at shoulder height or above.

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