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MUSE 355 String Pedagogy Handbook

Name: Ben Maynard Date: 3/11/18

Required Topics

Violin and Viola Instrument Set-Up


Definition: Introduction to holding a violin and viola correctly
beginning with the first lesson or class period. Students should
simultaneously be learning the parts of the violin and violin.

1. First, have students hold their instruments in guitar position until


they become comfortable with creating the 1-23-4 finger shape. Next,
teach students to hold their instruments in shoulder position.
2. Teach shoulder position by referring to the shoulder area as a
platform or a shelf to rest the instrument on. Have students touch the
middle of their necks, then explain that the button of the instrument
will touch the same place. Ask the students to place the instrument in
shoulder position.
3. Ask students to place their right index fingers on the buttons of the
instruments and their left hands on the upper bouts. Have students lift
the instrument slightly above their shoulders and then slowly lower
the instruments back down to playing position. During this process,
make sure that the students aren’t hunching or tensing their
shoulders.
4. With instruments in playing position, have students touch their
nose, the bridge, and the scroll of the instrument. A straight line
should form along these three areas.
5. Last but not least, have the students sit on the front half of the
chair and perform a stomping exercise and remind them that their
feet have to be flat on the floor at shoulder width apart when in
playing position.

Cello Instrument Set-Up


Definition: Introduction to holding a cello correctly beginning with the
first lesson or first class period. Students should simultaneously be
learning the parts of the cello.
1. Have the students adjust the endpin so that the scroll of the cello is
parallel to the players’ noses while standing up. Next, have students
stand the cello upright with the endpin on the floor. With the left hand
holding the finger board and the right hand on the low string side of
the bout, have them hold the instrument one arm’s length in front of
their bodies.
2. While keeping the cello in the same spot, have students sit down
onto the edge of a chair that allows their legs to be parallel to the
ground. Feet should be flat on the floor and legs should be spread out
enough to accommodate the width of the cello. At this point, the
endpin should still be an arm’s length in front of the student and the
scroll should still be pointing to the ceiling.
3. The students will now lean the cello back to their bodies. The scroll
and fingering board will sit on their left shoulder and the upper bout
will rest on their torso. Students should be able to turn their head to
the left and not bump into the fingering board or scroll of the
instrument.
4. To insure that the instrument isn’t too far away from their bodies,
have students hug their cellos and rock the cello back and forth.
5. To enforce to students that their shoulders, elbows, and wrists
should be relaxed, have them place their hands on the sides of the
fingerboard and flap their wings.

Double Bass Instrument Set-Up


Definition: Introduction to holding a bass correctly beginning with the
first lesson or first class period. Students should simultaneously be
learning the parts of the bass. This list of instructions will teach
students bass set up in sitting position.

1. First, have students adjust the endpin of the bass to the length that
will allow the nut of the bass to be near the top of their foreheads
while standing. Next, place stools behind each student with a leg of
the stool facing forward. Have students stand the cello upright with
the endpin on the floor. With the left hand holding the finger board
and the right hand on the low string side of the bout, have them hold
the instrument one arm’s length in front of their bodies.
2. Instruct students to sit on the front half of the stool with their right
foot on the floor and their left foot on a rung of the stool. Their knees
should be far enough apart to accommodate for width of the bass.
3. Have students lean the bass back towards their bodies with the
scroll and fingering board on the left side of the head. The bass
should rotate slightly to the right and rest on the left thigh.
4. Ask students to check if there is space between the instrument and
their neck. The instrument should also not be touching the shoulder
of the student. Students should be able to turn their heads and not
bump into the neck of the bass.
5. To ensure that students aren’t slumping, ask them to sit up so tall
that their heads will touch the ceiling.

Violin and Viola Bow Hold


Definition: Right hand shape while holding the bow.

1. Have students create a bunny with their right hands. The middle
and ring fingers should act as the teeth of the bunny. This will get
students in the habit of curving the thumb, middle, and ring finger.
2. Have students take a pencil and create the bunny shape with their
right hand. Have them hold the pencil in between the pointer and ring
fingers and their thumbs. Have them pretend that the bunny fell
asleep and fell on its side. Make sure that they rest their pinky on top
of the pencil.
3. Have students take a pencil and hold it by the tip in their left hands.
Have them place their right hand on the pencil like it is hanging from
a cliff. Ask them to place their pinky on top of the pencil, touch the
bottom of the pencil with the tip of their thumbs, and have them lean
their hand towards the index finger.
4. Have students form their right hand into the bunny shape and ask
them to use the circle that is formed by the three fingers to look in the
distance through the telescope.
5. Have students pretend that their bunny shape formed in their right
hand eats their elbow. Make sure that the thumb is on the elbow joint
and the middle and ring finger are on top of the joint. Tell them that
the rabbit ate a poisonous carrot and collapsed towards their
shoulder.

Cello and Bass (French) Bow Hold


1. Have students hold the tip of their bows with their left hands. Have
them form their right hand bow hold on top of the bow and have them
pretend that their hands are trains that rides the rails (the bow)
2. Have students pretend that their right hand is traveling down the
road while holding a PVC pipe by the tip with their left hand and have
them move their right hand up and down the pipe.
3. Have students rest their right arm to their side with their right hand
in the bow hold position. Have them swing their arm like a pendulum
while only bending the elbow slightly.
4. Have students hold the end of a pencil with their left hand. Have
them pretend that their right hand is hanging from a cliff while resting
the pencil under their knuckles closest to the fingernail.
5. Have students form a bow hold and hold their bow in the middle
and pretend that the bow is a teeter-totter.

Détaché
Definition: Bow stroke where that is produced by placing the bow on
the string and pulling it back and forth.

1. Buddy Bowing: Pair students up and have one another check if


they are bowing parallel to the bridge.
2. Sweeping the floors: Compare the détaché bowing to the length of
time to complete one sweeping motion when sweeping the kitchen
floor. Make sure that the students understand that this isn’t extremely
fast sweeping or extremely slow sweeping.
3. Bowing to a word: Pick a word that isn’t too long or too short and
have the students bow to it while simultaneously saying the word.
This might work with the word “string” if it’s not said too fast. Another
possibility is to pick a student’s name to bow to.
4. Sawing a log: Have the students bow to the motion and length of
the way that someone might saw a log while taking small breaks in
between each motion. Tiny motions and slow motions are not
commonly used when sawing, so this might be a good way to teach
students détaché.
5. Walking/marching: Compare détaché bowing with the speed at
which students walk in the hallway, not small motions, but not long
and big motions. Consider even having students march in place or
walk around their chairs while playing détaché bowings on one string
whenever the students take a step.
Staccato
Definition: Staccato strokes are short and and use very little bow.

1. Pinched bow: Have students place their bow on a string. Then,


have them pinch the bow, as if they were turning a page in a book
with only the index finger and thumb. The idea is to watch the bow
move up and down while the hair stays on the strings.
2. Doorknob: Have students pretend that they are opening a
doorknob in front of them. Tell them that they have to use the same
motion to play a staccato on their instrument.
3. Clearing the counter: Have students think about pushing crumbs
off of a counter with their index finger touching the counter instead of
their pinky. Explain that this type of motion is needed to play staccato
bowings.
4. Zip lock bag: Have students pretend that they are closing a zip lock
bag. This movement is needed to play staccato notes along with
more pressure added to the bow.
5. Drawing the line: Have students pretend that they are drawing a
straight line on a piece of paper with a pen or pencil. They should be
thinking about drawing the line from left to right. This kind of pressure
and motion is needed to play a staccato bowing.

Spiccato
Definition: Bow stroke that involves the bouncing of the bow off of the
string.

1. Bouncy bows: Have students bounce their bows on a string, while


trying not to make any sounds. During this exercise, students can
compare the bow as a kid and the strings as a trampoline.
2. Painting: Have students hold their bows at the balance point and
pretend that they are painting their strings with the bow.
3. Bouncy ball: Have students imagine that they are bouncing a
bouncy ball with a friend. The ball bounces off of the ground while
also moving horizontally, which is the motion required to play a
spiccato bowing.
4. Smash the fly: To avoid inconsistencies with a contact point, have
students pretend that there is a fly on the hairs of their bow and they
are trying to smash it.
5. Poking the wall: Have students pretend that they are trying to
lightly poke a wall with the tip of their bow. This can be used to help
with the horizontal motion required when playing a spiccato bowing.

Louré
Definition: Series of gently pulsed legato notes played in one bow
stroke.

1. Wavy bows: Have students play a long note while simultaneously


adding and releasing pressure to the bow. The bow stick should raise
and sink slightly during this exercise.
2. Two motions: Have students pretend that they are opening a
doorknob. Next have students pretend that they are bouncing a
basketball, but only moving the forearm. These two motions
combines are necessary to play a louré bowing.
3. Skipping pebbles: Have students imagine that they are skipping
pebbles on water with friends. The quick sliding and bouncing
motions are needed to play louré bow strokes.
4. Circles: Have students pretend that they are drawing circles in the
air with their hands by moving the forearms up and down while also
incorporating the pronating motion.
5. Scared Bunny: Have students create their bow hold and relate the
movement used to play louré bowings, to when a scared bunny.
When a bunny is scared, it bounces off of the ground with little to no
space in between the bounces, which is how louré bowings should be
played.

Slurred Staccato
Definition: Bowing that is used to play separated notes in one bowing.

1. Slurred Staccato Trills: First, have students play a bowed long note
while having them trill back and forth between two notes. Once they
have accomplished this, have them do the same thing only slowing
down the trill and playing each note of the trill short and separated
(still within one bowing)
2. Slurred Staccato Contest: Created a contest among students that
requires that to play the maximum amount of staccato notes in one
bowing. This will force students to have to create a tone on their
instruments with using very little bow.
3. Steps in the same direction: Compare slurred staccato to taking
steps in the same direction. Have students pretend that walking
forward represents the down bow and walking backwards represents
the up bow. Each step taken represents a staccato note. Instrument
them through exercises where they are taking multiple steps in each
direction and relate this back to slurred staccato.
4. Pulling and pushing in a drawer: Have students imagine that they
are pulling out and pushing in a drawer. Now have them imagine that
they are stopping the movement multiple times when they are pulling
the drawer out and back in. This is similar to the slurred staccato in
that the motion stops shortly but the bow still plays multiple notes in
the same direction.
5. Have students imagine that a car is alternating between traveling a
few feet forwards, then backwards. Next, have them imagine their
parents tapping on the brakes multiple times before they switch the
direction of the car. The car is stopping for very short amounts of time
while still going in the same direction, similar to a slurred staccato
bowing.

Retake
Definition: Resetting the bow so that the sequential phrase is played
starting at the bottom or top of the bow.

1. Making Circles: Have students practice making circles with their


bows in their hands. This motion is required when doing a retake so
that students don’t playing any notes during the process of a retake.
2. Don’t Fly Away: Have students pretend that their instruments are
home base and that they bow is a plane. When they do a circle when
retaking, they shouldn’t make too big of a circle to the point where is
delays their next note. Explain that the plane shouldn’t fly too far
away from base.
3. Rowing: Have students think about the motion that is required to
row when canoeing. This same circling motion is requiring when
doing a retake.
4. Gentle Landings: To avoid bouncing of the bow when doing a
retake, have students think about landing their “plane” at home base.
Have them practice landing the plane very slowly so they are setting
the bow before they start bowing after every retake.
5. Resting Bird: Have students imaging that when they are doing a
retake, there is a cardinal perched on the strings by the bridge of their
instruments. When they do the retake, they are trying to get their
bows right above the bird’s head.

Hooked Bow
Definition: Notes that follow the long-short pattern that are played in
one bow.

1. Doorknob: Have students pretend that they are opening a


doorknob. This motion is needed to pronate in order to produce a
good tone, especially with the staccato notes in a hooked bow.
2. Name Game: Choose a longer and a shorter name of students in
the classroom. Have the students say each name coordinating with
the long-short notes of a hooked bow.
3. Stuck in Traffic: Compare playing a hook bow to how a car moves
when stuck in traffic. Have them imagine that a car moves along five
feet, stops, then moves another two feet. This may better help them
understand the long-short feeling.
4. Carrots: Compare the length of hooked bowed notes to a regular
sized carrot and a baby carrot. Not matter how big or small the carrot
is, they are the same. Hooked bowed notes should have the same
tone quality, regardless of how long or short they are.
5. Waltz: Have students step side to side in a waltz feel. Have them
do this while saying “down-down, up-up” to simulate the feeling of a
hook bow. For example, have students play a half note and a quarter
note while feeling a waltz.

Slur
Definition:

1. Trill slurs: Have students play a long note while bowing while
having them finger two notes back and forth. This will help students
get used to changing notes while using a longer bow stroke.
2. Little hammers: To ensure that students are achieving clear slurs,
have them pretend that their left hand fingers are little hammers that
are striking the strings during one bow stroke.
3. Brushing Teeth: Have students think about when they are brushing
their teeth. This process involves more than one tooth getting
brushed or cleaned while moving the tooth brush in one direction.
Just like brushing your teeth, more than one note gets played as the
bow moves the same direction.
4. Walking: Compare bow movements to walking. When walking
forward, many steps are taken while still going in a forward motion.
Connect bow direction with walking forward or backward.
5. Simply have students play two notes by alternating the bowings,
then have them play the same two notes connected and with the
same bow direction.

Tremolo (Bow)
Definition: Bowing that requires a note to be played by moving the
bow back and forth rapidly with short bow strokes.

1. Waving: Have students wave to their stand partner. Have them


observe their wrist because a waving wrist motion is required to play
a tremolo.
2. Fast Détaché bows: Have students start with slower détaché
bowings and gradually speed them up to the speed of a tremolo.
3. Doing the Chores: Have students pretend that they are very rapidly
wiping off the counters at home. Have them think about a scenario
where they forgot to do their chores and their parents are on their
way home.
4. Dirty Dishes: Have students pretend that they are washing dishes
that have food stuck on them. This rapid motion is needed to play a
tremolo.
5. Playing with a Zipper: Have students pretend that they playing with
a horizontal zipper. Have them imagine moving the zipper back and
forth very rapidly. Have them observe the motion in their wrists. This
is the motion required to play a tremolo.

Sul Tasto
Definition: Light bow stroke played over the end of the fingerboard
with flat bow hair.

1. Friends with fingerboard: Tell students that this bowing is when the
hairs on the bow become friends with the end of the finger board.
2. Playing Jenga: This bowing requires less bow weight. Tell students
to image playing a game of Jenga and they are carefully placing a
block on top of the stack of blocks.
3. Dusting off the strings: Have students imagine dusting a piece of
furniture. To do this, they don’t really have to apply much pressure
because the duster does most of the work. Playing a sul tasto bowing
is similar because less bow weight is required to play it.
4. Petting strings: Have students imagine the pressure that they might
use when petting an animal. If they use too much pressure, it might
result in an angry pet. Similarly, if students use too much bow weight
when playing a sul tasto bowing, the sound won’t be what the
composer is looking for.
5. Boat traveling straight forward: Have students imagine a boat
traveling in the water. Then, have them imagine the boat traveling
straight forward and the boat making a sharp turn. This motion can be
related to the bow hair angle on the strings. The bow hairs have to be
flat instead of tilted slightly to the side.

Sul Ponticello
Definition: Light, fast bow stroke played near the bridge with flat bow
hair.

1. The Recipe: Compare the elements of playing a ponticello bowing


to a recipe. The ingredients to a proper ponticello bowing include flat
bow hair, faster bow speed, no weight on the bow, and bowing near
the bridge.
2. Opposite of sul tasto: If students already know and are familiar with
the sul tasto bowing, tell them that the sul ponticello bow is the
opposite of a sul tasto bowing.
3. Magnets: For this bowing, have students imagine that the bow is
magnetically attracted to the bridge.
4. Bird Flying: Have students imagine a bird flying next to a bridge.
The bird is flying straight forward. Next, explain that the bow hairs are
similar to the bird in that it is next to the bridge, parallel to the bridge,
and flat.
5. Metallic: Explain to students that sul ponticello bowings will result
in a metallic sound. It might sound closer to two pieces of metal
rubbing together than a detaché bowing for example.

Collé
Definition: Short accented stroke that is played near the frog and
performed by using the fingers and the hand.

1. Taekwondo: Have students create a fist with their fingers. Next,


have them open up their fists into a taekwondo hand position. Have
them slowly alternate between the two finger positions repeatedly.
Explain that this motion with the knuckles is required to produce a
collé bow stroke.
2. Use the analogy: big things come in small packages. This might
help students understand that a collé bow stroke is accented and can
produce a lot of sound in an orchestra, while using little bow motion.
3. Pizzicato Collé Contest: Have students play an accented pizzicato
near the bride of their instruments. Have them practice the pizzicato
and collé with the goal of making the sound the same. Create a
contest to see which student in the classroom and get them to sound
the same.
4. Table: Have students find a desk or another flat surface. Have
them put their hands on the table, palms down, and hang their fingers
off the edge. Have them practice bringing their fingers up and back
down from the bottom of the table. This motion is needed to play a
collé bow stroke.
5. Water bottle pull ups: Have students take a water bottle and hold it
with their fingertips. Have them practice bringing the water bottle up
near their palms and then back down.

String Crossings
Definition: Played by changing the angle of the bow and the player’s
arms to play notes using more than one string within one bow stroke.

1. Bridge Rocking: Have students place their bows on top of their


strings. Next, instruct them to rock the bow back and forth between
the highest and lowest string.
2. Pencil Crossings: Have students insert a pencil in between the bow
hairs at the balance point of the bow. Trying not to move the pencil
out of place, have the rock the bow back and forth on top of the
strings.
3. Teeter Totter: Have students imagine playing on a teeter totter on
the playground. Have them observe and think about a teeter totter
being held to the ground by its balance point. This is the kind of
motion that occurs during string crossings.
4. Flap Your Right Wing: When string crossing, it’s essential to
engage the elbow by moving it up and down. Have students do an
exercise that will require them to move their right elbow up and down
while in playing position. This will isolate this movement and make
them aware that their elbow must move while string crossing.
5. Pencil and Tennis Ball: Have students hold a pencil like their bow
and “bow” a tennis ball. Have them keep the same part of the pencil
on the ball. This motion is required to play string crossings.

Hand Frames
Definition: The shape of the left hand fingers when playing musical
passages, scales, etc.

1. Finger Lift Ups: Have students create a hand position while in


playing position. Have them lift their left hands off of the instrument,
create a fist, then recreate the hand frame. Do this for multiple hand
frames that students are struggling with.
2. Violin/Viola Guitar: Have violin and viola students create different
hand frames and have students look down at their hands and
observe the hand frames.
3. Flash Cards: Create flash cards that display a scale and require
students to show the hand frames on each string. This could be an
activity that they could do at home. They parents and friends could
easily quiz them.
4. Add a Note: Instruct students through a scale by starting with one
note and adding notes one by one until the end of a one octave scale.
This exercise will be most effective if done ascending and
descending. This will further refine students’ hand frame accuracy.
5. Scale notes: Don’t just have students play octave scales. Create
an exercise where they are playing more than one octave so that they
are becoming accustomed to the hand frames that are required to
play patterns in all keys.

Shifting
Definition: The movement that is required to switch between playing
in different positions.

1. Note twins: Using the same finger, have students shift between
octaves. Have students first practice this by slurring the notes. Once
they have successfully accomplished slurring the notes, have them
play the notes with separate bowings.
2. Double Stops: Pick an open string and have students play the
open string while also fingering the same note on another string in a
different position. Have them slide a major third away, then slide back
to play the unison.
3. Finding Harmonics: Instruct students to lightly touch one finger up
and down a string while bowing. This will not only get students to
discover harmonics to tune with, but it will increase their comfort level
when shifting.
4. Slip N’ Slide: Relate shifting to playing on a Slip N’ Slide. Point at
that fingers should travel from one position to the next very smoothly
and very relaxed.
5. Teleporting: Explain to students that in a piece of music that
requires shifting that their fingers and their left hands have to move
very fast. If they are slow moving, the rhythm and pace of the piece if
going to change. Explain that their fingers should move so quickly
between positions as if they were teleporting.

Tone Production
Definition: Producing sound by a combination of bow speed, bow
weight, and bow placement.

1. Bow Experiments: Have students experiment with bowing a note


using different bow placements and at different bow speeds. Point out
that this will affect dynamics and tone quality. Go back and forth
between playing with proper placement/speed and playing using poor
bow placement and speeds. This will help develop the ear for hearing
good tone and the feel for correct bow placement and speed.
2. Miles per Hour: Use the analogy of miles per hour to speed
up/slow down bow speeds.
3. Pounds: Use the analogy of pounds to change bow weight that a
student is using.
4. Sweet Spot: There is spot on the strings that will sound the best if
the bow is placed correctly when bowing. This spot will be
somewhere between the bridge and where the finger board ends.
Have students experiment to find where the sweet spot is to achieve
the clearest tone possible.
5. Recipe for good tone: Make sure that students know that the recipe
for a good tone is appropriate bow speed, placement, and weight. It’s
crucial for students to remember this so that they can diagnose and
fix tone quality problems when playing in class or practicing at home.

Dynamics
Definition: The volume level that something is played which is a direct
result of bow weight and placement.
1. Down Equals Up: Explain to students that bow weight and
placement should be the same when bowing up and down. The two
separate bow strokes should have no change in sound quality. Pair
students up and have one practice up bowing and then down bowing.
Have the other student give commentary about whether or not the
sound quality is changing.
2. Sweet Spot: Explain to students that there is a sweet spot that they
should generally use to bow medium and loud dynamics.
3. Darts: Explain achieving the sweet spot and using bow placement
to achieve softer dynamics like a dart board. In a game of darts, the
center of the board is the the most points and as game board
expands out, the number of points decreases. Explain that the further
away they bow from the sweet spot, the softer the dynamic will be,
while also sacrificing tone quality.
4. Slow doesn’t equal soft/Fast doesn’t equal loud: Challenge
students to practice fast and soft scales, along with slow and loud
scales. This will prevent students with making the association that
slow equals soft and fast equals loud. It will also help with
coordination when they will have to play similar musical passages.
5. Colored Pencils: Explain that playing dynamics is like coloring with
colored pencils. When using colored pencils, less weight is used to
create a light shade and more weight is used to create a dark shade.
Using bow weight to vary dynamics is the same way: use less weight
for softer dynamics and more weight for louder dynamics.

Phrasing
Definition: A musical sentence that is created by dynamics and bow
movement.

1. Music is like speaking a language: Create notecards that include


incomplete sentences and complete sentences on them. Then pair
students up together to read the note cards to each other. Explain
that if musicians didn’t play with good phrasing ideas, then music
would sound incomplete, similar to incomplete sentences.
2. Twinkle Twinkle: Take a song that students should know, such as
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Model this song and practice singing this
song with students with bad phrasing, and then sing it with good
phrasing with appropriate musical breaths.
3. Shape of music: Find a passage in any classical string piece.
Instruct students to draw the shape of the music using a paper and
pencil. Explain that dynamics and musical intensity follow the shape
of music.
4. Splitting a phrase in half: Using a scale or a short musical passage,
practice splitting the phrase in half and playing the first half on a down
bow and the last half on an up bow. Practice singing and playing
these musical practices with the height of the phrase in mind. When
bowing these phrases, it might be easier to visually recognize how
the phrase is structured, which will help students recognize the
structure of a phrase aurally.
5. Colorful Phrasing: Using colored pencils, have students use light
shade versus dark shades of a color over crescendo and
decrescendo markings. Under the music in the place of a crescendo
or decrescendo marking, instruct students to start with a light shade
and gradually shade darker as the height of the phrase approaches.
After the height of the phrase, start with using a darker shade and
gradually get lighter. Students can base their dynamics and vibrato
on the shade of the color.

Vibrato
Definition: Playing back and forth between the written pitch and a
slightly altered pitch. On string instruments, the length of the string is
slightly changed.

1. Air Vibrato: Instruct students to practice the vibrato motions away


from their instruments.
2. Tap Your Feet and Start Slow: Have students tap their toes while
alternating between the written pitch and the slightly altered pitch in
rhythm. Start with whole notes and work up until rhythm that requires
students to play between the notes rapidly.
3. Against a wall: Have violin and viola students put their scrolls
against the wall and practice vibrato. This exercise frees up the left
hand to do vibrato while not having to simultaneously hold up the
instrument.
4. Shaking a Coke: For cello and bass, compare playing vibrato to
shaking up a coke can.
5. Using a Key: For violin and viola, have students pretend that they
are using a key to open a door. Have them pretend that they are
trying to unlock the door but it’s not working; they should move the
key side to side very rapidly.

Five Elective Topics (These must be string playing skills)

Violin and Viola Left Hand Shape


Definition: Instructions for violin and viola left hand and finger shape
that will enforce good habits in students.

1. Have students grab a pencil or a pen. Ask to them to hold the


pencil or pen with the thumb on the bottom and the other four fingers
on top. Tell them that their thumbs must stay behind their index
fingers. Do an exercises where the students slide their fingers up and
down the pencil while keeping the thumb behind the index finger.
2. With their instruments, have the students to shape their index
finger to make a square with the fingering board.
3. Have students use their right index finger to trace a straight line
between their knuckles to their elbows.
4. Have students place their index finger on the lowest string, the
second finger on the next string, the third finger on the next string,
and the fourth finger on the highest string. This helps students
appropriately curve their fingers.
5. Ask students to pretend that their finger tips are dancing on the
strings. This will enforce the concept of playing on the tips of their
fingers.

Cello Left Hand Shape


Definition: Instructions for cello left hand and finger shape that will
enforce good habits in students.

1. Have students grab a pencil or a pen. Ask to them to hold the


pencil or pen with the thumb on the bottom and the other four fingers
on top and spread out evenly. Tell them that their thumbs must stay
behind their middle fingers. Do an exercises where the students slide
their fingers up and down the pencil while keeping the thumb behind
the middle finger.
2. Have students close their hands and knock on the strings with their
knuckles. Tell them that they should be raising and lowering their
hand from their hands from their wrist joint. Tell them to knock up and
down the fingerboard. This will enforce the left hand being relaxed
from the wrist.
3. In order for the fingers to rest in a “C” shape, have students
pretend like they are drinking soda out of a can.
4. Students will find the correct elbow position by alternating tapping
the nut and the bridge of the cello.
5. When in playing position, have students use their right index finger
to trace a straight line between their knuckles and their elbows.

Bass Left Hand Shape


Definition: Instructions for cello left hand and finger shape that will
enforce good habits in students.

1. Have students show the “bass man solute.” This will ensure that
students’ hands will be in a “C” shape with the index finger further
away from the middle finger.
2. When in playing position, have students use their right index finger
to trace a straight line between their knuckles and their elbows.
3. Have students grab a pencil or a pen. Ask to them to hold the
pencil or pen with the thumb on the bottom and the other four fingers
on top in the “bass man solute” position. Tell them that their thumbs
must stay behind their middle fingers. Do an exercises where the
students slide their fingers up and down the pencil while keeping the
thumb behind the middle finger.
4. Have students form the shape of a “K” on the strings. Show them
that the strings for the trunk of the “K” and the index and pinky fingers
form the arms of the tree.

Direction Changes
Definition: When the down bow stroke changes to the up bow stroke
and vice versa.

1. Statue of Liberty: Have each student hold their arms in the air with
the tip of the bow pointing up towards the sky. Have them flex their
fingers. This should help relax their hand.
2. Balancing and Rubbing: Have each student place their bow on the
strings in the sweet spot and on the balance point. Have the students
make short stroke while flexing their fingers and wrists to achieve
smooth direction changes.
3. Avoid Changing Like a Car: Explain to students that the direction
changes should not be as slow as a car is when it changes from
forwards to backwards or vice versa. When a car changes, it has to
generally come to a complete stop before it moves again. Direction
changes on string instruments should be immediate.
4. Two-hand pulls: For cellos and basses: Have students hold the tip
of their bows with their left hands. Have them pull the bow back and
forth using the left and right hands.
5. Sprinkler: Explain that direction changes on string instruments
should be immediate just like when a sprinkler changes directions.
Have students use their hands to demonstrate the turn around that a
sprinkler has.

Parallel Bowing
Definition: Bowing parallel to the bridge and avoiding bowing at an
angle.

1. Buddy Bowing: Assign students with a buddy. Have them play


something slow and something fast. For example, assignment each
of them to play long tones and a faster scale exercise. Have their
buddy make sure that their bow is staying parallel to the bridge.
2. Letting the Air Out: Have student exhale on the down bow and
inhale on the up bow. During each of these, have them look down at
their bow to insure that it is parallel to the bridge.
3. Circle Bowing: Have students play consecutive up bows and down
bows. Instruct them to watch their bows closely to make sure they
they are bowing parallel to the bride.
4. Compare bowing to a car traveling down the interstate. If there are
cars in both lanes and a care in the left lane travels too far to the
right, it will crash. Similarly, cars can’t keep moving straight forward
while traveling at a diagonal. They simply don’t work like that. If the
bow travels diagonally or moves too far to the left or right, the sound
will be affected.
5. Rockin’ Bows: Have students place their bows on the frog, strings,
or tip of the bow. Have them pivot the bow by bending their fingers,
wrists, and elbows. Instruct them to closely observe their bows to
make sure that they are staying parallel to the bridge.