Violin Beginnings Class

Mason Community Arts Academy

Spring 2019 - Drew Robertson

Class Schedule

Our class meets Thursdays from 6:00 -7:00 PM at Mason Community Arts Academy Building A-3, Room 9. We will be meeting weekly with the following exceptions:

  • No Class - Thursday, 3/7 - Mr. Drew at the American String Teacher’s Association Conference in NM

  • No Class - Thursday, 4/18 - Spring Break

  • No Class - Thursday, 5/30 - Mr. Drew at the Starling-DeLay Symposium at Juilliard

Contact Information

For any questions related to schedule, payment, or registration, please contact Morgan Johnson in the MCAA office at academy@gmu.edu or (703)993-9889

For any questions related to class content, teaching, practice, or anything else, please contact Mr. Drew at drewrobertsonmusic@gmail.com or text (616)443-2573


Course Content

Week I - 2/21

  • Welcome and introductions

  • Checking instrument sizing, quality, and setup

  • The bow is asleep for a few weeks; please leave it in the case!

  • Introducing rest position

    • Feet parallel and touching

    • Violin under right arm (elbow on the chinrest)

    • Bridge peeks out in front of elbow

    • Scroll tall and across from nose

    • Left hand relaxes on the high dot

    • Relaxed knees

  • Moving to playing position

    • ‘Unzip’ your toes and make a ‘V"‘

    • Waddle like a duck - feet shoulder-width apart

    • Relaxed knees

    • Polish the string on the high dot

    • Violin over your head like the Statue of Liberty

    • Flat violin comes in for a landing

    • Button rests on left side of the neck and feels your heartbeat

  • The Ant Song

    • Played with the left hand over the high dot, plucking open strings with the pinky (4th finger)

    • Each note should ring freely, so check that fingers are not obstructing the string!

  • Composer of the Week: J.S. Bach

    • Minuet No. 1 (From Suzuki Book 1) - Link

    • Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, Mvt. I - Link

    • Sonata No. 2 in a minor - Link


Week II - 2/28

  • Review

    • What are the parts of the violin?

    • Reviewing rest position

    • Moving to playing position

    • Play the Ant Song with student solos

  • New Material

    • Our favorite rhythm: “Pepperoni Pizza” or “Everybody down up”

    • Sunflower solfege - Singing a Major scale up and down with the French syllables

      • Do (toes)

      • Re (shins)

      • Mi (knees)

      • Fa (thighs)

      • Sol (waist)

      • La (shoulders)

      • Si (head)

      • Do (hands above your head)

    • The High Dot (located at the harmonic on the A string, or about one inch above the shoulder of the violin on the fingerboard)

      • Tapping rhythms on the high dot with fingers to begin finding finger position

      • Thumb should be relaxed, fingers landing perpendicular to strings

  • Composer of the Week: Vivaldi

    • Concerto in a minor (from Suzuki Book 4) - Link

    • The Four Seasons: Summer - Link

    • Concerto for four violins - Link


WEEK III - 3/14

  • Review

    • Parts of the violin

    • Sunflower Solfege

    • Moving between rest position and playing position

    • Playing the Ant Song

    • Playing GDG

  • New Material

    • Transposing GDG up to the higher strings - DAD and AEA songs

    • Introducing our five Twinkle rhythms

      • “Pepperoni Pizza” (or everybody down up)

      • “Ice Cream (shhh) Cone” (shhh is an essential silent rest where we do not play!)

      • “Strawberry Raspberry”

      • “Pineapple Pineapple”

      • “Watermelon Watermelon”

    • Learning the parts of the bow

    • Bow hold practice on a pencil - Two different ways!

      • Shake & flop, then step by step

      • Bow hold bunny, then “nibble” into a bow hold

      • Check your bow hold with finger dots - look “under the hood” to see if any dots are visible.

  • IMPORTANT - When building bow holds please consider these common problems:

    • The bow hold must be RELAXED - it should be so loose the bow nearly falls out of our hand

    • The pinky must be perched atop the stick of the bow. It will want to fall off the side of the bow or the joint will want to lock in place. Neither are what we need for a good bow hold!

    • The thumb must be bent and gently placed on the ferrule (silver piece next to the bow hair)

  • Composer of the week: Joseph Haydn

    • Violin Concerto in G Major - Link

    • Symphony No. 83 “Le Poule” - Link (Listen for the chicken theme at 1:05!)

    • Symphony No. 94, Mvt. II “Surprise” - Link (Listen for the surprise at 0:32!)