A few technique questions

said: Jul 21, 2009
 16 posts

I have been spending some time lately self-evaluating my teaching, and come up with a few areas where I have some uncertainty. I know that the following questions kind of run the gamut of technique, so thanks in advance for your patience in reading this and any suggestions you might have!

1.) Independant fingering- I find that this is hard for my very little ones (under 6 or so), and I am loathe to teach it until they can comfortably play “O Come”. I like to have them playing consistently with a straight wrist and mousehole before I introduce it, but other teachers have looked a little surprised that I don’t start them on Twinkle with independant fingerings- any thoughts?

2.) Many of my kids have real trouble playing with a metronome. When do you introduce practicing with a metronome, and what are some helpful things you tell your students who can’t seem to make sense of playing with a beat?

3.) When do you start some of the more advanced bowing techiques- spiccato, colle, etc.? Any etude books you like for this? Kreutzer?

4.) When do you start your students on 3rds and octaves scale practice?

Again, thanks…

Jennifer Visick said: Jul 21, 2009
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts
  1. does this mean that your students are playing the second note of “O Come” with two fingers down? That is a little odd. I would introduce independant fingerings by Lightly Row, if not by the time all the Twinkle variations and the Theme are underway. But if they don’t seem to have trouble with independent fingering after you teach it, there’s no reason why your way can’t work. Except if there’s excess tension in the hand…. In fact, the idea of having one finger down while the rest are “looking” at the string and are still flexible and “soft” to a certain degree is something I would find difficult if I kept them at block fingering only for too long.

  2. Ed Sprunger has some good ideas about metronome / rhythmic work in his book “Helping Parents Practice”. The thing is, we don’t need to “follow” a metronome, we need to anticipate it, predict exactly when it will click. The kind that have a sweeping arm with a weight to change the speed are easier to predict than the ones that just go “beep”.

3 & 4) Whenever they seem interested and ready. (I know, that’s not much help). For double stops, I wait till they can accurately hear/tune a third and an octave to an open string before introducing fingered octaves and thirds.

Connie Sunday said: Jul 22, 2009
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

1.) Independent fingering: I think this starts with the “up the ladder” and “down the ladder” pre-Twinkle exercises, on the A string, associated with learning the Twinkle. I do this with all the Suzuki bowings, early on, not just Pepperoni Pizza.

2.) Playing with a metronome: I do a lot of singing during the lesson, clapping, numbers in the notebook. Whatever works. You don’t have to force them to play with a metronome; it’s too much, at first. Counting, and playing around with numbers. Hearing teacher sing is probably more effective, early on.

3.) Advanced bowing techiques- spiccato, colle, etc.? Kreutzer?

It is a long way from Twinkle to Kreutzer, and really, the Kreutzer is more Mozart concerti and beyond. But spiccato can be introduced in conjunction with scales, but starting with the Suzuki bowing “wish I had a watermelon,” which is two sets of 16th notes. These can be practiced with two octave scales (G, Aflat, A, Bflat, C), gradually lifting off, when the student is able to.

I have a handout which I have students print and put in their notebooks, and we refer to this, as appropriate:

Common String Articulations

4.) 3rds and octaves scale practice?

I use scale books in the following order, introducing the first one at the Minuets in book 1*:

- Tune a Day Scale Book
- Hrimaly
- Barbara Barber
- Flesch

The Tune a Day Scale book (not to be confused with the TAD series), has some excellent material, including one and two octave scales, thirds and double stops.

* For links to these materials, please see: What is the usual progression of violin études?

For more advanced students, I recommend the following handouts and resources:

- Handout: Violin/Viola, Piano—3 octave scale fingerings
- Handout: Analysis of Carl Flesch Scale System
- Free one- to three-octave Printable Violin and Viola Scales
- Carl Flesch, Memoirs—free download from Universal Library

Free Handouts for Music Teachers & Students:

said: Jul 23, 2009
 16 posts

Thanks so much for your helpful suggestions- I really appreciate it.

Diane said: Sep 3, 2009
Diane AllenViolin
245 posts

Regarding metronome skills—You may be interested in this blog entry. There is also a free download for a Metronome Worksheet.


Regarding 3 octave scales—Here’s the order I use:
A Beginning Scale Book—Herfurth
3 Octave scales introduced with charts (http://www.myviolinrecital.com/blog38vescales.html)
Flesch/Galamian mixture

Happy teaching!

Videos of student violin recitals and violin tutorials.

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