Saturday, January 19, 2013

Pretwinkle Songs

I don't like to spend a lot of time creating stuff just to keep it to myself.  So, I've been working on this pretwinkle packet.  It's still in the works because I need to add the music to more of the pieces.  But, honestly, I don't know when it will happen - probably not until I start another beginner.  So, here is what I have so far.  I know every teacher teaches their pre-twinkle songs differently, but I've found this to be a great methodical way of teaching the twinkles, and the handout is fun for the parents to use.  I'm not going to put it online, yet, but if you want a PDF copy of what I have so far, please leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail (

A Little is More Than Nothing

I have a confession!  I have been the WORST at practicing with my 6 year old.  The holidays really threw us off, then she got the flu for a week, and now it's super hard to get back into the routine!  She resists every single day with huge tears.  It's hard enough for me to find the time between her school schedule and my teaching schedule - not to mention I have to cook dinner and tend to my other four kids' needs.  When she throws such a fuss, sometimes I'm not even motivated to start the process.  We've been known to only get a couple days of practicing in a week.  THIS IS NOT ENOUGH!!!  I tell my students every week they need to practice AT LEAST 5 days a week.  We have a 100 day practicing challenge going on right now.  And here I am slacking with my own children!  So, I've made a new goal to practice with her EVERY DAY!....even if it's just a little, because a little is more than nothing and right now I'm really close to doing nothing.  This girl has so much ability and I can't hinder her by not practicing with her!!!

With everything she's assigned each week she could easily practice 45-60 minutes per day.  Her attention span is just not that long so I'm assigning her 30-45 minutes per day.  On days we don't have even that amount of time we will do less.  This is how we are practicing this week:

I write down everything she needs to do on this white board.  I also write the time we are ending because that is very important to her.  Some things like "Book 2 Skills" is a bunch of warm-ups and technique exercises.  It probably takes 15 minutes to complete this job.  Others are just one piece like "Galop" and "Simple Gifts."  I have broken up the review into three different jobs: last 3 pieces, Book 2 Review (3 other book 2 pieces), and Book 1 review (3 pieces.)  This week for Book 1 review we are doing the Book 1 review Bingo and she gets a treat for every Bingo.  This really makes her excited to review Book 1.

Each time she finishes a job she erases it.  With the shortened amount of time we are practicing we don't get everything done each day, but I write the next day's assignments in a different color.  We make sure we finish everything every two days.  Some things (like her current piece) needs to be done each day.

We are always surprised how fast the time goes once we get started.  The white board provides a visual for her to know what the practice and we can manage our time more efficiently.  Each day of practice is different and I've noticed that once we get started she actually enjoys her playing and practicing.  That's why I'm doing this - so she'll enjoy playing!  So, I'm happy with our practicing progress this week!

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Prize for Boys

Girls are so easy to shop for.  Boys are a little harder (in my opinion) to find rewards and prizes.  I love giving girls music jewelry, but that doesn't interest boys.  I've found the PERFECT reward for a boy!  Nanoblocks are like little mini Legos and there is this little violin set.  My daughter got this set and my son wanted to put it together so bad!  However, it was her set so I let her put it together and now we have a fun violin decoration.  I decided to get a bunch of these and put it on my Shoppe.

Check out these Nanoblock violin sets at The Practice Shoppe!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Play or Dare

Play or Dare is a game I've played a few times during group classes.  I played it at our Book 1-2 group today and wanted to post it in case this might help someone with practicing.  This would be a great practicing game if you took the time to prepare fun "Dares" for the child.

Here is a picture of some of the "Dares" we did in our group class today.

I put the "Play" cards (different pieces that we needed to work on) 
and the "Dare" cards on my {cool 70's} fireplace.

Here is some other "Dare" ideas I've used: 
* Pick a "play" card and practice leading that piece.
* Show us your favorite dance move.
* Tell us something you like about your violin teacher.
* Sing the next "play" card. (OR whistle or hum)
* Choose a funny way to sit or stand and play the next piece that way.
* Do ten jumping jacks and then turn around in a circle five times.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Brain Noodles

I sold these Brain Noodles (aka GIANT pipe cleaners) at institute last year the first question that came from everyone was, "What do I do with these?"  Without a plan I would just look back with a blank face, "Uhhhhhhh - anything you want, I guess."  (not a good sales-person, I know.)  My darling husband was much better at coming up with ideas and decorated my darling daughter's bow.  A cello teacher bought a bunch and taught an entire group class without talking just using the Brain Noodle.  Another teacher bought a bunch to take to another institute, but how she was using I'm not sure.  Since last summer I've used these a lot with my teaching.  I only have two left and they've been well-used.  This is one of the reasons I like these so much - they can be shaped and reshaped and reshaped again, and they are still useful!

Today my darling daughter didn't want to practice today so I had her be my model and demonstrate the different ways I've used Brain Noodles over the past year.  It was fun for her - and we actually got quite a bit of practicing done.

The Violin Cast
To kinesthetically feel the "slippery slide" and "mouse hole" with the left hand.

Royal Crown
Keep that head up high and don't let it fall over!

Blind Fold
Keep those eyes closed and listen to your tone (or intonation.)

Soft Bow Hold
Feel the wire with your thumb and pinky.  Let the fuzz slip through all your other fingers.  

Bow Hand Cast
Keep the fingers round and open

Highway Barriers
Don't hit the barriers on the highway!  Stay straight and keep your eyes on your bow.

Antennae or Goal Posts
I will transmit your playing to the President of the United States with these antennae.  OR  Keep the scroll up so you can make a touchdown with your eyes (I might make them squarish if I'm saying this.)

Thinking Cap
Let's put on that thinking cap so you can really think about your playing.

I can safely point and touch different areas of the violin playing to attract attention to problem posture points.

I just love that these are so soft and malleable.  I don't sell them online, but I've seen a generic version of them for sale at my craft store.  I'm sure you can google "Brain Noodles" and get some online stores as well.  I will also sell them at The Practice Shoppe booth at ISSI again this summer!  I hope this gave you some fun new ideas for practicing or teaching!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Practicing I'm a Little Monkey!

My darling daughter just finished her I'm a Little Monkey chart.  I'm a Little Monkey is a pretty standard pre-twinkle song with Suzuki.  It paves the way to learning Twinkle and it requires lots and lots and lots of playing.  My girl's other teacher, Ramona Stirling, uses this chart and I like that it's unique and different than the typical chart.

First of all I print 5 copies of this chart.  This makes 90 repetitions.
We then cut up the chart and tape it together to make a giant ladder.  Each day she would average about 5 Monkey songs and we would put stickers on the chart at the end of her practice.  
 After a few weeks we have finished the chart and she got a prize....such an exciting day for her.  We've taped it on the wall for everyone to see.  It's been a great accomplishment for her.  Now she is ready to learn the basics of Twinkle!

You can download this chart at The Practice Shoppe.