Suzuki Violin Picnic


Deanna said: Apr 27, 2010
Suzuki Association Member
90 posts

This year I’m thinking of having a Suzuki Violin Picnic as the year-end event in my studio. We just had our Spring Recital this past Saturday and we have two more months of regular lessons before Summer. In past years we’ve had a special event to play at in May or June (playing outside for a marathon, playing with the local symphony at their concert..) This year I don’t have anything planned yet and have been toying with the idea of having a picnic. Two-hours to half a day that’s part workshop, part recital, mostly fun!

These are my ideas so far:
Start with a play-in for 45min

Move outside for various games.
Perpetual motion relay—each student plays 4 notes and passes the tune on
Rhythm circle—each person has a different twinkle rhythm when that one is clapped/played all those with that rhythm get up and find a different place in the circle
One person on violin/one bows —emphasis on posture
Going on a lion hunt/follow the leader—we play some piece and walk around oustide, stopping at various plants/hills/people and then make up sound effects that goes with the story and the obstacle.
I’ve also thought about doing bow races- the kids balance a cheerio on the tips of the bows and race to the finish line without dropping it. I don’t know if this would be a “safe” activity for the bows though.

Return inside for a short 30min recital
Kids play 2-3 pieces as a group
I’ll play something.
Invite a guest artist to play something—I’m thinking of asking one of the teenage students of another teacher to play a fiddle piece.

Have a picnic outside (snacks)

So my question to all of you… Have you ever done something like this? Do you have ideas or suggestions? Especially about the outdoor games… I’d like there to be a lot of moving around, while still being musically focused. Any feedback is appreciated. Thanks to all you amazing teachers and parents out there!

said: Apr 27, 2010
 89 posts

What a fun way to build community in your studio! (I share your concern about the bow races.) For my kids, coming back inside to listen quietly or even to perform after running around would be torture—better for them to move from formal to informal activities.

Tiffany said: Apr 27, 2010
Tiffany Osborn
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
Los Angeles, CA
41 posts

I also do a year-end picnic, but we usually just picnic and then play-in, but I do a lot of games in group class.

Here are some things I’ve picked up at institutes that would translate well to outside:

somehow mark 4 long lines in the grass (or they could be imaginary) representing the violin strings, you play a piece and the kids move to each line depending on what string you are playing on- you could start out with twinkle, where they just move from A to E, and then go on to something like Min 2 that crosses 3 strings, then Gossec Gavotte- they love leaping from D string to E, etc.

Relay race- with a plastic or paper cup on top of bow, the cup passes from bow to bow. Two rules: you must have a perfect bow hold in order to have the cup passed to you, and the bows must be straight up and down. you could do it competitively in 2 or more rows, or non competitively by having them in a circle- I will usually play something, like twinkle or perpetual motion, and we see what note I am on when they get to the end, and then we try it again and they try to get the cup to the end of the circle faster.

Shoe pile- everyone puts one shoe in a pile, and while playing something you have to get your shoe out of the pile and put it on (and not collide with your neighbor).

Since you have a few months, you could prepare some fiddle tunes, which are fun to do in summer- Orange Blossom Special is great for mixed level groups.

If I think of more I’ll post again, have fun!

If I think of more I’ll let you know!

Deanna said: Apr 28, 2010
Suzuki Association Member
90 posts

THanks for the great ideas innermusic! And also for the suggestion about having the recital first, wonky.

I really like the idea of the violin strings game. I was looking at the space I’m thinking of having it and there’s a big paved area where we could use sidewalk chalk to make the lines. I was also thinking of having a scale hopscotch game. Write out the letters of A major scale in the blocks (but also C, F, G natural so they have to pick the sharps). And hopping arpeggios too. One group could be the hoppers and the other could play the notes they land on.

The cups on the bow sounds like a great game too.


Alie said: May 15, 2010
Columbus, OH
21 posts

I play a game called “Switch Pitch” with the kids. It is similar to Hot Potato and can be used for ear-training and sight reading (or just ear-training for younger students).

For ear-training only:
Children sit in a circle. I tell them the “switch pitch” by note name and then play it for them on my violin. A water balloon is placed inside of a water balloon timer and is passed around the circle in time to the beat. (The timer is called Splash Out and you can buy them at KMart or a toy store for around $10) I play a pitch and then a rest, pitch then rest etc. The idea is for the child to listen to the pitch and then pass it to the next child during the rest. If they hear the “switch pitch” they must pass the balloon back in the other direction. Of course, the balloon will pop when the timer runs out. It’s a great summer game and the kids absolutely love it!

For sight-reading and ear-training:
Same procedure as above but instead of playing a pitch myself, the students take turns being the “Pitcher”. One student will read a line of notes and rests and the circle activity listens to what the Pitcher is playing to determine which way to pass the balloon.

Another thing about this that I like for a picnic is that siblings and parents can play too!

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