24 hours only!
It has become a tradition here at Music for Young Violinists to feature fiddle music in the month of February. It started many years ago in my teaching studio as a way to add a little joy & shine into our lives here in the Pacific-Northwest during the sun-less winter.
For 24 hours, help yourself to this free fiddle duet called The Willamette. This piece is featured in the collection from M4YV called Fiddle Duets (learn more here).
The tune is named after the Willamette River (pronounced will-am-ette) which runs through the city I live in. The Willamette River is a major tributary of the Columbia River, accounting for 12 to 15 percent of the Columbia's flow. The Willamette's main stem is 187 miles long, lying entirely in northwestern Oregon in the United States.
Click on the red letter A below to get a PDF of this tune for free. If you happen to have missed the 24-hour FREEBIE window, you can still purchase this tune in the M4YV store (click HERE).
The only thing that is fair in this world is that we each get 24 hours a day. It's what you do with these hours that can help propel you towards your goals (or away).
I was recently challenged to track my time in 15-minute intervals for 7 days and created this PDF to help me do this. I want to share this time tracking sheet here because I know many of you dream big and would benefit from an inventory of your time. One thing that I hope to get out of this challenge is a "reality check" for how much time I spend on social media and checking the news. Hopefully, the awareness I glean from tracking my time motivates me to spend my precious time in ways that are more aligned to my goals and values.
To access this free PDF download, visit the Music for Young Violinists FREEBIES page (scroll down quite a ways to get to the 15-minute time tracker PDF).
Fiddle tunes are vibrant, cheery and fun!
(+ amazing for teaching technique)
I love adding some fiddle music into the mix during February because I live in a part of the country where the sun goes into hiding during this time of the month and frankly, it feels a little dreary.
Fiddle tunes are the perfect pick-me-up to counter the weather and M4YV will be doing 2 flash sales this month on the 3 fiddle collections plus adding a surprise or 2 to the FREEBIES page with a fiddle tune here and there. Stay tuned!
Head on over the M4YV store to take advantage of this sale & brighten your February:
Scroll down to the end to enter the giveaway contest.
What is a bucket board?
In short, a bucket board structures a way to create a culture of kindness by acknowledging those around you with notes of support.
I work in a dialysis clinic - and yes, if you are new here, you read that correctly, I am both a nurse and musician (you can learn more about my interesting journey from one to the other here if you are curious). Working in healthcare can get stressful at times because lives are at stake and resources are limited. Our managers decided to install a bucket board to help us acknowledge our co-workers for all their numerous acts of kindness done in the day.
A bucket board works like this:
A bulletin board is installed in a central location and each staff member gets a little "bucket" (or bag or envelope) with their name on it. Next to the board is a table with paper, pens and funny memes. Co-workers can write notes of gratitude and encouragement to each other and leave the note in the "bucket."
Bucket boards are for any group where people come together for a common cause - your violin studio, community center, school, family, place of worship, etc...
The bucket board concept is part of the bucket fillers movement started in 2006 with a mission to "help all ages grow in kindness, self-control, resilience, and forgiveness, all leading to a happier life. They do this by using the metaphor of a bucket to explain where we keep these positive feelings and experiences."
They self-describe their movement as being "a new twist on the Golden Rule." Through their books, presentations, and website, they explain "we all carry an invisible bucket in which we keep our good thoughts and feelings. When our buckets are full, we are happy; when they are empty, we are sad. It’s important to know that we can fill our own bucket and so can others. We can also dip into it."
They go on to describe on their website:
“Bucket fillers are those who help without being asked, give hugs and compliments, and generally spread their love and good feelings to others. The simple metaphor of a bucket helps even preschoolers understand the importance of consideration and love, particularly towards those who bully. People who “dip” into our bucket often rob us of happy feelings by refusing to help with a task or by saying or doing cruel things."
Their website, Bucket Fillers 101 shares 9 different publications, mostly geared towards youth but the themes are universal to all ages. You can learn more about this movement to increase kindness, access free downloads and gain inspiration on their website HERE.
Notes of Kindness - Violin & Music
Visit the Music for Young Violinists store to access a collection of violin & music themed notes of kindness to use in your violin teaching studio.
No one is immune from the human experience which means that everyone has challenges. A bucket board creates a system to share support with others and uplift them.
Have an idea for spreading kindness? Let us know in the comments below. 5 entries will be chosen at random to receive a $30 M4YV gift certificate.
Winners will be chosen on January 31
A foundational principle in the Suzuki philosophy is:
Character First, Ability Second
I suspect that I am not the only one here who looks out at the world and scratches their head trying to figure out why things are so awry and functioning in such a state of discord. It's baffling, right?
Sometimes it feels like we are at odds, but, the one thing we can all agree on is kindness.
Kindness is easy, free and feels great to do!
This is where the bucket board comes in. I was recently exposed to the concept of the bucket board through my workplace (learn more here) and they provide a way to express kindness by acknowledging those around you with notes of support. In brief, the bucket fillers movement started in 2006 with a mission to "help all ages grow in kindness, self-control, resilience, and forgiveness, all leading to a happier life." They do this by using the metaphor of a bucket to explain where we keep these positive feelings and experiences.
To help encourage a little more kindness in the world, M4YV is sharing free bucket filler designs on the FREEBIES page. You can also make your own designs at www.Canva.com, again for free :)
I would love to hear from those of you who choose to create bucket board for your studio - please email me a picture so I can share with others.
Download Notes of Kindness Designs on the M4YV FREEBIES Page:
Share how you teach kindness in the comments below and be entered to win a $30 gift certificate to the M4YV store.
5 winners will be chosen at random on January 31.
Are you inspired to start a bucket board for your studio, classroom, home, place of work or community center? This can be done easily and does not necessarily need buckets.
The term "bucket board" can be a bit of a misnomer because you can also create this with envelopes, gift bags or any other container that can hold notes of kindness. You can even learn how to make a paper bucket from Bucket Fillers 101.
Download FREE bucket fillers on the FREEBIES page and purchase violin themed bucket fillers for $5 at the Music for Young Violinists store.
Click on the "Bucket Boards" button below to view my Pinterest board on these:
Download the notes of kindness posted below + 6 more designs on the FREEBIES page to help start a bucket board in your violin studio.
“A dream without a plan is just a wish.”
Dream Trees help you slow down and create the life you want. You can use these beautiful sheets to define your dreams and map them into actionable goals. Plus, many of the designs in the Dream Trees collection are infused with sacred geometry to help your soul remember higher truths. Learn more below.
I developed some bad habits in nursing school and yes, you read that correctly and yes you are in the right place. This really is a project about playing/teaching/loving the violin. It’s a long story (click here to get a glimpse) but at the heart of it, I believe we heal through our passions and I hope to merge the world of healthcare with the arts.
Before this new career in nursing, I spent 23 teaching music, performing and composing. Music is still my passion and I work on this project whenever I get some free time to help me stay connected to this love. I don't have all the answers but I believe that music is an essential component of humanity living more peacefully so I have made it my mission to help bring more music into the world.
Back to my nursing story, even though I graduated nursing school in June 2019, I immediately plunged into preparing for the national licensing exam (aka the NCLEX), finding a job and then training for this intricate and exciting new job as a dialysis nurse. It's been intense and my health and long term goals took a back seat.
I am just starting to get settled from all of these changes and sat down recently with my fancy new Passion Planner and a cup of dark coffee (my favorite). I purchased this particular planner because it comes with goal mapping tools. However, there was one problem, they are not beautiful. I believe beauty connects us to truth and wanted this to be incorporated with my goal setting so I developed the Dream Trees.
I know that if you are a musician you have a special type of passion for working on making your dreams come true so I thought these would be perfect to share with this group.
Scroll down for examples of how to use Dream Trees.
Visit the FREEBIES page to download a sample.
View the entire collection on the store.
Who doesn't love solving a mystery???
I removed the pitches from 3 popular holiday pieces and left the rhythms for my students to solve the mystery of what pieces these are. These are a really fun way to enforce rhythm reading skills, celebrate the holiday season and keep lessons and group classes fresh with new ways to learn. The 3 pieces are Jingle Bells, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer & Ode to Joy.
Also here on the M4YV FREEBIES page are some complements to the Holiday Joy! collections for Violin and Viola. First is Ding, Dong Merrily on High. I love this piece and forgot to put this melody only version into the newly revised Holiday Joy! sheet music collection. My mistake is your gain because it is now offered here for everyone on the FREEBIES page.
Next is a contemporary arrangement of The First Noel for 3 Violins. When I revised the holiday & Christmas music collection, I wavered about putting this trio arrangement of the First Noel in it. I enjoy the higher range expressed in the top line and a slightly modern interpretation of the harmony, but it does not fit with the rest of the arrangements in the collection. I decided to keep it and offer it here and get your feedback - feel free to let me know how this works for you (here is my email address). A version of just The First Noel melody is available in the Holiday Joy! collection.
Levels 1-4 + Ultimate Challenge
24-Hour FREEBIE for Newsletter List
Thank you for being a part of the Music for Young Violinists community. Your lives are busy, and I thank you for believing in this project and sharing your inbox with me.
Below is a free download from The Violin Teacher's Toolkit (click here to learn more about this resource). Also, a reminder that all collections of violin sheet music are on sale this month for 50% off as part of M4YV's annual back-to-school sale.
Thank you and wishing you joy in the music-making process!
NOTES: Bach Double Subdivision Worksheet - My graduation requirement for this piece is to play it in its entirety subdivided into sixteenth notes. I created this resource to support this value of accurate rhythmic interpretation and to help students check their work at home when subdividing directly from the score. Additionally, I had many students begin this piece before our studio’s summer break, and it was a way for me to provide some guide rails for them to work on it independently during a time period where we would not be meeting for regular lessons.
Music for Young Violinists is going on a bit of a summer break. Instead of reaching out to other violinists with blog posts, tutorial videos, new FREEBIES, or giveaway contests, I am going to organize behind the scenes. I am editing existing collections, creating new sheet music and a few other fun surprises I am excited to share with you.
In the meantime, I am giving myself a fun challenge to discover new violinists or pieces of music every week and I will be posting the finds here as YouTube videos. Keep checking back. Also, I will randomly put various collections on sale here at the M4YV store. I wish everyone a great summer!
Win the book Vio's Violin by Kenesha T. Ryce & a $40 gift certificate to the Music for Young Violinists store.
Entering is easy, scroll down to learn how.
What was the best that happened this past school year?
Wow, just wow! It's so precious to have a moment to reflect on another school year. I just finished nursing school and am one step closer to bridging the gap between the arts and healing. My family is on a plane to visit and celebrate my graduation as I type and I am practicing my self-control by refraining from sampling the cookies I bought for my party.
At the beginning of the school year, I asked:
"What's the best that can happen?"
Now, with another year under our belts, I would love to hear back from you:
"What was the best that actually did happen?"
Please share in the blog comments by the end of this weekend, and you will be entered into a M4YV giveaway contest. The winner will be chosen at random by the end of the day on Sunday, June 16. They will win this fantastic book pictured above to inspire violin practice + a $40 gift certificate to the M4YV store.
Need a little inspiration to keep up the momentum on summer break?
Head on over to the M4YV sheet music store for some instant downloads where everything is 40% off thru the end of the weekend.
This arrangement and performance is spec-tac-u-lar!
Who doesn't love a fiddle duet?
I recently revised many of the Music for Young Violinists collections and in the process added some bonus duets into the Let's Fiddle!!! for Beginner Level Violin collection.
This arrangement of Old Joe Clark for two violins is one of the newly added bonus duets that made it into the revised Let's Fiddle!!! collection. It's simple and sweet - perfect for beginners.
If you are interested in learning more about the three fiddle collections available here at the M4YV project, you can click HERE to be re-directed to this category at the store where the scores are available for viewing.
If you are interested in some unusual fiddle tunes, please scroll down on the FREEBIES page for some unique offerings.
Ode to Joy for VIOLA and VIOLIN (D Major) are the newest FREEBIES from Music for Young Violinists.
Spread some "JOY" to others and re-post this, email your studio or pin to Pinterest!
There is some new music here at M4YV and to celebrate the first viola collection (yes you read that correctly - VIOLA) I added this all-time favorite tune here on the FREEBIES page to literally "spread the joy."
Ode to Joy is now featured in 3 different M4YV collections:
Good news if you are clicking on this today (May 3-5, 2019) because I always celebrate new music with flash sales. You can get all three collections together as a bundle (click here) for $20 (normally $30) or the viola collection for $5 (normally $18).
Someone asked me recently what brought me joy. After 2 weeks (seriously, I had to really think about this), I found my answers:
I thought more deeply about joy, and it's role in our lives last summer when both ends of the joy spectrum weaved thru my life. Read more about that here.
What brings you joy?
Please share in the comments below, thanks!
I have been waiting years (literally) to create some musical offerings for alto clef lovers and finally, the day has come!
The 1st M4YV sheet music collection for VIOLA:
LARGE Print Music for Beginning Viola
I love celebrating new collections with a flash sale, so this music will be offered at a $5 price all weekend. Access the sale by clicking here and you will be re-directed to the store.
There is more good news -
I also put together an economy bundle of the LARGE Print Beginners series and included a bonus of the Violin music transcribed down a string. Teachers rejoice - you finally have some material to combine both your alto and treble clef players together - yay!
YES - this is also on sale - click here.
Please let me know if you have any questions this weekend. I am working long shifts but will be sure to check my email at the end of the day.
Samples from the first viola (alto clef) sheet music collection from the Music for Young Violinists project:
If there is a Music for Young Violinists collection you would like to see translated for violists, please send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nervous before your performance?
Say the alphabet backward in your mind to help regain a sense of calm. Scroll down to learn the limitations of this trick (and how to work around this) and watch a short video explaining why this works.
Basically, without using what I call the "$100 fancy medical-science words" (which I feel qualified to joke about after going to nursing school), we can explain our brain as being like a bunch of networks, or pathways if you will.
I like to visualize these pathways as being similar to spaghetti. When the brain is calm, all the spaghetti line up in a row and are organized. When the mind is anxious (like before a violin recital), the brain pathways get scrambled up like a plate of cooked noodles. Here are my visuals:
This is why it is so important to plan at least one relaxing activity for yourself (or your violin students) before giving a recital. I make this a part of the lesson, and the student declares what they want to do that will relax them, and I stress to the parent how important this is to the success of the student performing.
Next, it helps to have a few tricks to calm performance nerves immediately before a performance which is where the backward alphabet comes in. I have even done this as a group activity with all students together before we start our recital and it's fun, gets the mind free from mustering up fears about the performance and calms the performer down.
However, the problem with this trick is that once the brain starts to learn the pattern of a backward alphabet this trick no longer works. Fear not, indeed any word, name or phrase will work for this performance anxiety relieving tip. Below are some other words backward to demonstrate.
Have a tip to help relieve performance anxiety?
Please share in the comments below. Thanks!
Have you ever received advice from a teacher that may work for everyone else but would end your (or your child's) violin career?
We live in the information age where everyone seems to have an "expert" opinion about what is best. However, that does not mean that it is the "best" for your unique situation.
Learn how to evaluate what is best for your (or your child's) practicing needs with this blog and video post explaining the importance of context.
Everything in this world exists in context including when to practice and what shoulder pad to use. Here I share my favorite metaphor about why size ten shoes are the best size to explain the importance of context and how to evaluate what is going to be the best formula for your (or your child's) violin practice needs.
I felt that if I was going to do a series on practicing, which in itself asserts that I have an expert opinion on the subject, that it would be insincere to publish these posts/videos without adding the balancing view that this contribution to the practicing series adds: Life exists in context.
What exactly do I mean by this?
I think most violin teachers would agree that practicing in the morning is the optimal time to practice - the mind is fresh, the daily responsibilities have not accumulated yet (for either parent or child). Also, by practicing first thing in the morning, you achieve the triumphant feeling of having accomplished something of significance at the start of the day which empowers a young person to proceed confidently through the rest of their day.
However, I know that more than one person reading this would assert that practicing first thing in the morning would be the kiss of death for their child or student because it would lead to negative power struggles as the child works against their delicate circadian rhythms resulting in defeat for all parties involved.
Morning practice routines are just one example of many that we as adults have to consider in context when teaching the violin to young children. Other areas that come to mind are shoulder pads, chin rests, repertoire sequencing and musical genres.
Keep the concept of context in the back of your mind when working with young musicians to help best support them in their journey learning the violin.
Alto Clef Alert!
Your eyes are not deceiving you, and this is not a typo. Finally, there is a viola offering from M4YV & it's the new FREEBIE.
This is the latest installment in the FREEBIE Fridays series that M4YV is featuring this Spring. I am excited to connect with you in a week for the next installment.
Sometimes all it takes to freshen up your practice routine is a new practice chart. You can use these to help support goals and either mark on with a pen/pencil/crayon/marker or use a sticker.
Counting stones are a variation on the abacus. They are easy to make and as simple as getting a jar and 10-20 of your favorite stones (or really, anything that is small, personal and is readily available).
You can see a version I made as gifts for my students one year here.
Counting stones will help make violin practice successful for the following reasons:
1- Anytime you can make something personal by choosing a unique stone (or sticker or toy, etc...) it will bring a positive connection to the experience.
As advanced as the frontal lobes of our brains may be, what drives the show in our life experiences is the unconscious part of our minds. Making a simple positive connection like choosing your personalized counting stones will bring this positive influence into violin practice and help encourage the practice process. Helping to make a positive and personal connection is equally useful for a 5-year-old as it is for a 57-year-old, or in other words, is applicable for all ages.
2- Violinists need ways to release the repetitive stress involved in playing to avoid an injury.
Laying practice stones out on the music stand will create a built-in mechanism for regularly relieving the arm from holding the instrument up (of using the left arm). Since I have injured myself in part thru lack of implementing healthy practice techniques such as this, I feel strongly about emphasizing this subject for future musicians to help preserve their music making experience. This led to inviting physiatrist Dr. Lin to do a presentation for my studio informing violinists and their parents about preventing violin related overuse stress injuries. The presentation, The content shared by Dr. Lin in his presentation The Violinist Athlete and Injury Prevention, is concise and solution oriented.
3- Tangible goals and tangible results.
I was once teaching a 10-year old student named Julia, who came into her lesson with a look of wonder in her eyes as she stated:
"Isn't it amazing that I just move my fingers and arms around and all this beautiful music comes out?!"
She perfectly captured the awe of this magical experience of creating invisible art (which is what music is). Other art forms are visible - painting, films, the martial arts, etc... We violinists create invisible art and having something concrete to aid in our process such as counting stones can be useful in tracking progress and bringing a sense of groundedness to our practicing.
4- Optimize practice methodologies.
In the correlating video, I show how to use practice stones to create better sequencing in violin practice. Too often students will play thru something 10x but only reinforce the incorrect bowing. With practice stones, a student can lay out an alternating pattern with one type of stone representing doing the correct bowing in the air and the other kind of stone for implementing the proper bowing on the instrument.
Hello & Happy Spring.
This blog post is an update from yours truly, Heather.
First, if you are new to the Music for Young Violinists project welcome! Even though we may never meet in person, it thrills me to connect with our shared love of music and all things violin. I would much rather play duets together than type words on the screen, but you may live halfway around the world, so this is impractical. The next best thing I can do is introduce myself thru a short video HERE (and if you want to meet my amazing Great Dane, here is another short video).
Next, I am starting a new series called FREEBIE Fridays and, it is precisely what it sounds like - a new free download (aka freebie) will be posted on the Music for Young Violinists FREEBIES Page every Friday. I have already started working on this and will do this for at minimum the month of April. The first installment is One Octave C Major Scale & Arpeggio in LARGE Print format.
I feel I owe you all an apology for such a long absence from reaching out. For those of you who don't know, in addition to my experience as a violinist, educator, and composer, I am also in my second year of nursing school. It's a bit of a long story about how I got here, but the end goal is to combine the arts with healing.
I started a series this winter about practicing. I believe it is essential for us to devote some contemplation and energy to this component of music making because it is what defines a positive and successful outcome (however, sometimes we as teachers or students just expect it to magically fall into place and become an effortless part of our daily routines).
Due to some of the challenges of my nursing school course work and exams, I had to put this series on hold and therefore only finished three of the six installments. I am eager to share the remaining few in the next season while I also share some fun new FREEBIES.
In other Music for Young Violinists news, I have been working with great zeal and enthusiasm on editing ten of the twenty M4YV collections. Most changes are aesthetic (many covers are getting a makeover) but there have been a few minor compositional changes and some additions of extra pieces that complement some of the collections. I will be hosting some FLASH SALES (24-48 hours) in the near future to celebrate these new versions so if you are interested in some new pieces to brighten up your music collection, keep your eyes peeled on your inbox and the Facebook page.
Thanks and happy music making!
This is a great little 2-minute nugget for older students (like teens and adults) and works for many things beyond the violin. In fact, I have a cold this weekend and would rather be laying in bed all day but don't want to get too far behind so I just used this advice to clean my kitchen, finish my homework for my nursing program and walk my dog.
Below is a 2-minute video of some advice my teacher gave me in graduate school. It has served me well in all areas of my life.
Happy practicing and feel free to share your "best" practice advice in the comments below.
Over the recent Winter Break, I spent 2 weeks traveling to spend time with loved ones and it was glorious. The highlight of these special moments was meeting and holding my 3-month-old nephew, baby Liam. I do not officially resume school until Monday but have already started waking up early and working 12 + hour days getting ready for the intensity of nursing school and working ahead on all things Music for Young Violinists so I can devote myself to my studies.
I was initially going to send some neat FREEBIES out this season but my own current experience of feeling how limited time is caused a change of course in sharing.
When I am studying new content for my nursing program I find the most challenging part is discerning how to best use my time - Should I:
The list above is abbreviated and illustrates the challenge of starting at the beginning of acquiring a new skill and knowledge base.
In contrast, however, having spent decades in the world of teaching and learning the violin I had a very clear idea of how to make the most use of my time and was able to concisely pass this along to my students. This information is what I will be sharing in the 6 part practicing series.
I have mused that perhaps the only thing that is fair in this world is that we all get 24 hours a day.
Learn how to make the most of your precious time with the Music for Young Violinists 6 part practice series.
15 Ways to Optimize Violin Practice (video and free chart)
The Practice Experiment
(More Coming Soon)
Remember, practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Your time is precious, let me show you how to make the best use of it with this series on practicing.
If you have followed this project for a while, you may know that one of the most profound things I ever did in my teaching career was to spend a week watching my students practice. You can learn more about what I discovered and how it was arranged here on The Practice Experiment.
The 15 Ways to Optimize Violin Practice free PDF list (click here to download) and correlating video tutorial were created as a response to watching my students practice.
Too often students were working hard but not progressing as far as they should because they were not practicing the right way. This list and video will help any violinist make better use of their practice time and reach their goals more efficiently.
Teachers - you can use this to better support teaching technique, as a reference to share with your students and for professional development to expand your skills.
Students - you can use this to help you practice more efficiently. Practicing smarter will help you progress faster. My passion is taking my 20+ years of teaching experience and helping you know the fastest path to success thru the trials and errors I had working with students these past two decades.
Parents of Young Musicians - I know that one of the hardest jobs for you is keeping momentum in your home practice routine. Peruse the ideas on 15 Ways to Optimize Violin Practice and use the appropriate ones for your child to help keep practice creative, fresh and engaging with some new ideas.
Print out a PDF of this list below (posted on the FREEBIES page) and keep in your violin folder as a reference.
Please note, some things on the list may not be apparent to you until they are demonstrated in the accompanying video.
Hi! It's me, Heather. I absolutely love working on the Music for Young Violinists project and all the many facets: blogging, website, music, teaching materials, freebies, videos, newsletter and giveaway contests. The best part is connecting with you so feel free to drop me a line. You can learn more about me on the "ABOUT" page. Thanks!