Barbara Barber Fingerboard Geography for Violin

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said: Feb 13, 2011
 145 posts


I was in the music shop and had a glance at this book………….. I was a bit surprised that in all the fingerboard graphs BB had used finger numbers rather than note names. I feel it is ok to do this at the beginning, but isn’t it important that the children are thnking note names by at least book the middle of book 2-3 ? It stopped me buying it actually……….it did look very good though and so much detail had been put into every piece with all the finger patterns written out so clearly. I think I’ll go and buy it actually, it would certainly be very helpful as a brilliant reference book for the teacher. :D

Alie said: Feb 14, 2011
Columbus, OH
21 posts

Are you talking about the fold out section in the middle? She uses the finger numbers rather than the note names because she is speaking about finger patterns which can be applied on any string, as well as in different positions. I have found the visual aspect of that middle section to be especially helpful in helping my younger students (and even some of my older students) understand finger relationships. (Kierstin Wartberg also includes illustrations for four of these patterns in the back of Step By Step 2A.)

I require all of my students to purchase Fingerboard Geography for Violin and have found that it does a great job of ironing out any potential left hand/intonation issues before they become problematic. Barbara also includes some really great previews for the Suzuki repertoire (up through Book 4, I believe). Based on my experience, I would absolutely recommend this book. For those of you who have used it, I am curious to know if you have liked it as much as I have?

Diane said: Feb 15, 2011
Diane AllenViolin
245 posts

Take a look at the 2 videos on the home page and see if this is what you are looking for.

Please keep in mind that this website is under construction and not open to the public yet. There are many loose ends that are just roughed in.

I’ve been using Book 1—Fingerboard Workbook for the First Position: Map the Violin for Good for over 15 years with my students. My students are fearless on the fingerboard. Db, B#—no problem.

Book 1 is about 2 weeks away from being ready with the rest following this spring. Viola by the summer. If you want Book 1—email me: [javascript protected email address]. (the website isn’t quite operable yet)

Students drill: key signature reading, note reading, assigning finger numbers, mapping the violin, singing, and playing. Finger patterns and ear training are drilled through the study of intervals.

Let me know what you think! I’m pretty excited about this project!

Videos of student violin recitals and violin tutorials.

Ruth Brons said: Feb 22, 2011
Ruth Brons
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Livingston, NJ
148 posts

I make it a point to use both note names and finger numbers for the first half of book one.
But in recent years I have enjoyed how much easier it is to get students playing the D string notes if I just refer to finger numbers for a while, to avoid confusion over WHICH F#, etc.

When working the Joanne Martin’s “I Can Read Music”, which has five lines of note reading in each lesson, I have the students write the finger numbers on one line, note names on another, and then just play the other three lines without any markings.

Jennifer Visick said: Feb 22, 2011
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

If you go through the whole Barber Fingerboard Geography book, you’ll discover in section 3, after introducing finger patterns, she does advocate students reading notes in 3 ways:

  1. Identify Note Names (Letter Names) and locations on the staff, two at a time, then play them on the instrument.

  2. Identify the distance between the fingers on the fingerboard (using terms like half step, whole step, 2 whole steps, straight across strings, etc.), then play them on the instrument.

  3. Identify the numerical or special name of the interval (2nds, thirds, tritones, fifths, etc) with its adjective (Major, minor, perfect, augmented/diminished) ,then play them on the instrument.

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