Violin Lesson 4 – Our First Song

And we’ve made it to Lesson 4! Our First Song!! Now that sounds exciting! Go check it out on YouTube. My iPad will only upload smaller videos so I had to upload the song, Auld Lang Syne, as a separate video.

I hope you are getting very comfortable dividing your bow in ½ and 1/4s while adding a small movement with your left hand at the shoulder. Yes, yes, I am pushing your coordination skills! 🙂

Ring Game

As you continue reviewing our bow games for a great bow hold, I’d like to add a third game which I call The Ring Game. It is a simple concept, but you will need a friend to do this game justice. You can use anything from a canning jar ring to a pony tail, just find an object that is a ring shape.

  • Set your Right hand up with your best bow hold, then close your eyes.
  • Ask your friend to move the ring around the tip of your bow.
  • Put the tip of the bow through the ring, yes, with your eyes closed!

WHY would I ask you to do this silly exercise? There are a few reasons.

First of all, having your eyes closed will help you focus on what you are doing, whether or not you are maintaining a good bow hold.

Secondly, you will be practicing your agility while keeping bow hold strong as you move around seeking the ring.

Thirdly, when you do find the ring with the tip of the bow, I want you to push the bow ALL the way through the ring which will force you to let go of the frog and practice replacing your bow hold. In other words, this is just a creative way to get you to repeatedly practice placing your hand on the bow correctly.

Rhythm and Note Values

Last week we learned about quarter notes. Comment and tell me what a quarter note is in your own words. Before we get to playing our first song, let’s learn Half Notes and the Whole Notes.

  • Half Note: similar to a quarter note, but the circle is hollow instead of black. It is not filled in. Half notes receive 2 counts/beats.
  • Whole Note takes up a whole measure, or 4 counts/beats. It is simply a circle with no stem.

Music Note Values

Think about an apple. A whole note is an apple, untouched. A half note represents the apple cut in half. And then quarter notes are when the apple is cut into 4 slices. With this in mind, you will understand when I say 4 quarter notes fit inside a whole note, 2 half notes fit inside a whole note, 2 quarter notes fit inside a half note, etc. I like to call this music math.

I made a few more flashcards for you to add to your collection. Keep reviewing the previous flashcards as well! Download the PDF of Lesson 4 Flashcards.

Handframe

Ask any of my private students and they will probably tell you that Handframe is my favorite thing to teach. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually like teaching it any more than they, or you, like practicing it….however, the results this exercise produces are outstanding! That is why I push so hard for a strong foundation in handframe.

  1. Bring your violin up to position and stand with both arms relaxed at your side. Completely relaxed! This exercise must be done in front of the mirror, it is crucial to be able to see what you are doing. I want you to notice the natural curve in your fingers when your arms are loosely dangling at your sides. Just like your right bow hand, we want to keep this relaxed shape in our left hand.
  2. The next step is to add the baby wave motion while the hand is relaxed by your side. Slowly and carefully, concentrating on keeping your muscles soft and relaxed, wave continuously as you bend your elbow and lift your hand slowly to the height of your violin.
  3. If at any point you feel tension in your hand/wrist/arm, drop right back down to the starting point and try again. You want to teach your muscles to be relaxed as they become familiar with playing the violin. Establish good muscle memory in the beginning and everything else will be a bit easier in the long run!
  4. Once you can get your hand up to the height of your violin without any tension or change of hand shape, continue waving from the largest knuckles as you gradually turn until you are waving over your left shoulder, as if someone was behind you to the left.

I will show you more of where we are going with this exercise next week! For now, you will have to trust me that this is worth the effort in the end. 🙂 I know it takes patience and determination to practice this exercise well.

Bonus tip: The left hand, handframe, is a mirror image of the right hand, bow hold!

Swinging Elbow

As you work towards moving your left hand from the shoulder of the violin out to the neck, you again want to establish good muscle memory habits.

  • Bring your hand up to the violin neck and place the lowest knuckle of your index finger against the neck, just about an inch in front of the nut.
  • Allow your fingers to relax in their natural curved shape we talked about with hand frame.
  • Your thumb should remain loose and relaxed.
  • Swing your elbow back and forth observing how this motion will help you navigate between the low strings and high strings with ease.

Auld Lang Syne – Play Along

For your first song, I’ve arranged a simple duet part for you to play, using the open strings. This is a familiar Scottish tune called Auld Lang Syne. I recorded the piano accompaniment to go along with it as well. Practice right along with the video, repeating sections as needed, until you can play the song up to tempo. Listen to how the parts fit together and play it slowly several times before you attempt to play faster.

Comment and let me know how this went for you! Did I record the song too fast? Too slow? Did you find the tune/arrangement interesting? Your feedback will help me improve. Thanks!

Here is a PDF with your open string duet part for Auld Lang Syne notated on the music staff. Violin Lesson 4 – Auld Lang Syne. I also added a few extra open string songs for you to practice. Enjoy!

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