Violin Lesson 3 – Preparing to Play

Our third violin lesson is up on YouTube! Be sure to comment and click “like” on the video, that helps me out a bit. 😉 Thanks!

You’ve been playing Open Strings, you’re starting to sound pretty good, and you’re much more comfortable holding your bow. You’re ready to make some music!

A couple reminders about reading the Treble Clef Staff. The staff is made up of 5 lines, and 4 spaces. The Treble Clef looks a bit like a cursive S and is aka the G-clef. Our Open G string extends below the staff using Ledger Lines, these extend the staff much like an extension ladder or stairsteps. Open D sits just below the bottom line of the staff, open A sits on the second space from the bottom, and open E is on the top space of the staff. Open Strings Flashcards Lesson 2 Worksheet

Bonus tip: The space notes of the treble clef spell the word FACE from bottom to top, as shown below.

Treble Staff FACE

Sustain Tone
Were you able to draw a solid tone from your violin while sustaining one bow stroke for 30 seconds!? It is quite the challenge! But it is so good for you to practice bow control in this way. Please leave a comment and let me know if you accomplished this. Now I would encourage you to try for a 40 second sustain bow.

Violin Posture and Bow Hold
I hope you are still bringing your violin up to position from rest position, using our Bird Landing on Shoulder game. This will help you establish good posture habits and avoid the bad ones that sneak in so easily! And how is the Rocket Ship bow game going for you? Let me teach you a new bow game today.

This one is called “Pet the Kitty”. Supporting your bow in the middle, with your left hand, go ahead and stroke the lower half of the bow with your right hand, as if you were petting a cat. Now, if your cat is like mine, it likes full strokes with your hand and fingers, it doesn’t like to be pet with just the fingertips. Stroke your kitty firmly, but gently. Give it a few strokes, then relax your hand into a bow hold around the frog. Stroke a few more times, and bow hold again. This exercise will encourage a firm, yet relaxed bow hold, which is just what we want!

No Hands! Baby Wave
Are you able to hold your violin in position with no hands? This is the week to get very comfortable doing so. Supporting your violin in position, grab the shoulder of the violin in your L.H. Now I want you to think about a baby waving hello for the first time. Think how different they wave than an adult. A baby is still developing muscle, so they want to wave in the simplest form possible: from the large knuckles where the fingers connect with the palm of the hand. This is the largest/strongest muscle available for this motion.

Extra Credit: Comment and tell me, what exactly supports the violin to keep it in position?

With your hand on the shoulder of the violin, go ahead and do a baby wave towards yourself. Be careful that the wrist stays relaxed, and uninvolved with this motion! As you get a feel for this motion, try drawing your bow on the strings simultaneously while you practice doing the baby wave. Now we’re working on our coordination! Doing something different with the right arm than with the left arm. Much like the old game of patting your head and rubbing your tummy!

You can also think of this exercise as a bunny hopping in a meadow. With your fingers straight up in the air, the bunny is peaking over the top of the grass. Then he goes down and hop, hop, hop. And then he pokes his head up again and does it all over!

Dividing the Bow
Up to this point, our bows have been from frog to tip, and tip to frog. Now I want you to try dividing the bow in half. Go ahead and put a sticker or a piece of tape in the middle of your bow to help you visualize the halfway point. Starting from the frog, draw the bow to the middle and pause. Then continue with another stroke to the tip. Reverse back to the middle, pause, then continue to the frog. Once you can do that comfortably, add two more stickers on your bow to divide the bow in quarters. Then practicing stopping at each sticker for a brief moment before continuing to the next. Again, we are practicing bow control, and also preparing to play notes of different values or lengths.

Challenge: Combine dividing the bow with baby wave or bunny hop. Can you bow continuously while waving or hopping with your hand at the different divisions on the bow?

Note values – Quarter Note
The first music notation value we will learn is the quarter note. It is made up of a black dot, with a stem or tail. A quarter note gets one count in 4/4 time, the most common time signature in music. In 4/4 time, there are four quarter notes, or the equivalent, in each measure. Quarter Note Flashcard 2

Music is divided into measures using bar lines. So for our purpose today, a quarter note is one count and one bow stroke is one count or one quarter note. Follow the notation in the attatched PDF worksheet below to play along with my chords on the piano (found at the end of the YouTube Lesson 3 Video).

Download the PDF for some extra notation tips, the play along duet music, and space to create your own melody: Violin Lesson 3 – Play Along Duet Worksheet


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