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StringPedagogy VOLUME ONE B


Welcome to VOLUME ONE B. All of us who work with beginning violin students know and appreciate the importance of these first years. They set the foundation on which we build for years to come. These years are magical; yet do not need to be mysterious. If a good foundation has been set in Books One and Two, the rest is easy. Students have established a natural physical approach, learned how to practice and listen. They still have a few bow strokes left to learn, and will continue to refine shifting and vibrato. And now they have an open ticket to the vast and glorious string repertoire. The stage is set for the development of artistry and a lifetime of musical exploration and personal fulfillment.

How to Use Volume One B
VOLUME ONE B expands and completes the beginning stages of violin playing presented in VOLUME ONE-Starting the Beginning Violinist. It includes a Pre-Twinkle Check List, a Guide to Beginning Group Lessons, as well as a continuation of the Suzuki repertoire through Book Two. A special feature of this Volume emphasizes Pivotal Moments in the development of young violinists. The repertoire is the vehicle, not the journey. By highlighting the Pivotal Moments, this approach can be used with other repertoire and method books.

Shinichi Suzuki's sequence of repertoire has greatly benefited the string world for over half a century. The power and potential of the repertoire as a pedagogical tool has expanded beyond the Suzuki Method itself. At the Indiana University String Academy, I have used this repertoire for many years. Aspects of Mr. Suzuki's teaching continue to influence this approach. In, the student's achievement, not the exact sequence of repertoire, sets the teaching/learning agenda. For beginning and intermediate students, the Suzuki repertoire is an excellent sequence of repertoire for learning musical and technical concepts. Because each successive piece represents an accumulation of previous knowledge with the addition of something new, students can progress from Twinkle to standard repertoire (i.e. Vivaldi Concerto) with ease, a solid foundation, and confidence.

The Pre-Twinkle Check List and the Check Lists for Books One and Two have multiple purposes. They can be used before, during and after:

Each piece is presented through our "rainbow" of awareness, a framework for teaching the musical and technical concepts addressed in that piece.
1. Bow strokes and bow division:
Awareness of the bow division and bow strokes to be used in each piece.
2. Use of the Fingers:
Awareness of finger placement, i.e. which fingers stay down, when to lift the fingers, and how the fingers become independent.
3. Form and the Music:
Awareness of form is the first step to understanding music in the beginning stages of violin playing. Other musical concepts such as dynamics, tempo markings, ritards, etc. are incorporated into learning the form. Thus each musical idea becomes a part of the total musical expression.
4. Practice and Isolation of Difficulties:
Isolate and practice the technical difficulties. At every level of violin playing, practicing is a matter of both discernment and informed repetition. This begins with the first lesson.

Everything in is has been conceived in the larger context of the non-judgmental learning environment; for optimal results this atmosphere is critical. This atmosphere encourages the other overriding principle which is maintaining the constant awareness of playing with natural and relaxed physical motions. It is important that the teacher stays flexible in adapting the material for each individual student. Even at the most complex technical level, problem solving depends on understanding basic principles of violin playing. It is comforting to understand that all difficulties occur between two notes. We as teachers and performers simply need to identify the two notes and the technical or musical issue that needs to be addressed between the notes. Success is assured if these basic principles are applied to repertoire at all levels.

Enjoy your journey!

Mimi Zweig

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