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.
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: email@example.com.
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.
There is ONLY one way to know what your students are doing at home...
I spent 1 week watching my students practice, and it was one of the most profound things I have ever done in my teaching. I believe that if more teachers did this, then we would be able to help more students reach higher levels in their violin playing.
In this video (posted below) and correlating blog post I explain how I organized a week of watching my students practice and why this was such a powerful use of time.
How I organized The Practice Experiment:
The week before watching students practice I had told them to expect something very different at their coming lesson, but I did not say what it was since I wanted to observe them in their "natural practice state" as much as possible. I was hoping to avoid students preparing for this observation since it would not be an honest representation of their work and defeat the purpose.
On the following week, I brought my computer to my teaching studio and reorganized the space so I could sit at my desk. After explaining that I would be observing them practice, I was silent and typed up a personalized report for each student while they showed me how they practiced. We reviewed the report together at the next week of lessons and went over suggested modifications to their practice routine.
It was a heartfelt but shocking and humbling week.
I was touched by the loving interactions between parent and child, but I was genuinely shocked that only about 20% of my students actually followed their practice notes (I create a personalized lesson sheet for each student to help us stay organized). Also, I was humbled that after 20 years of teaching and priding myself on being highly organized that so many of my students were not clear on:
1- What was actually expected of them.
2- How to execute the specific teaching points by themselves even after covering in repetition at their lesson.
I also have always assumed that if something were not accurate, then the student would isolate the issue and create a practice spot out of it. I was WRONG on this because over and over again I heard my students plow over obvious inaccuracies in their interpretation.
((((((Deep Exhale from Me))))
So, the other part of this humbling lesson is that I had first heard about doing this years ago but delayed implementing it. I regret this because had I done this in past years my students would absolutely be having a higher success outcome with their efforts. I will know at the end of April if I am accepted into nursing school. If so then this will be my final nine weeks of violin teaching from a 20+ year career. Better late than never but hopefully by passing this along here you can carry the torch and watch your students practice to serve them best and nurture their gifts.
The following is an extreme statement but I think the sentiment will be heard:
It DOES NOT MATTER how great of a teacher you are and it DOES NOT MATTER how talented your student is.
IT MATTERS how they interpret the lesson information and practice in their own space and time.
The only way to check in on this is to actually watch them practice.
We want to hear from you and know how you help your students reach their highest potential. Please share in the comments below. Thanks!
Win a Set of WonderThumbs!!!
Relax your hand and let the music flow...
I recently discovered these neat violin playing aids called the WonderThumbs and really like them. In fact, I am surprised it took so long for someone to create these - thank you Craig!
Lucky for us the creator was kind enough to donate a set to one of our lucky members. If you don't happen to be the lucky duck who wins, you can order these from the WonderThumb website or from Shar Music. They cost $24, and if you are thrifty like me, you may be on the fence for making this investment so I invite you to consider this price in comparison of 4 years of remedial violin lessons ($4,000+) if this is a product that could benefit you, your student or your child. Remedial lessons are costly and honestly, can be treachery for all parties involved. Just some food for thought as you consider this product.
I played around with several different sizes and as a 5"8 female with slightly larger sized hands am probably an L in the WonderThumb sizing. That being said, I tried all the sizes, and I like the XL for using backward which is a non-traditional use of the product, but it worked for supporting the neck of the violin. I also liked the smallest size for taking up as little space as possible. Just some ideas to consider when looking into these.
OK, now onto the FUN STUFF - enter this giveaway contest by saying "Hello" (or "你好" or "Bonjour" or "Dzień Dobry") in the comments below and a winner will be chosen in 24 hours.
It's Time for Holiday Music!
Free Jingle Bells Duet for 2 Violins
Hello and warm wishes to all of you this holiday season. I hope that music is a part of what helps you express your love and connection during the holidays.
There is no shortage of ways or places to celebrate your love of music with the world and here are four ideas:
1- Learn Jingle Bell Rock by ear with this slow tutorial video.
2- Download a FREE Jingle Bells duet (it's a pretty fun arrangement with my favorite thing in the world - double stops!)
3- Get even more heart filling holiday & Christmas music with the 50% off sale on the Holiday Joy! collection.
4- For the youngest musicians, click here to learn a neat little trick to make the instrument more festive.
This is such a fun song to learn!
Here is an old video of me playing this very slowly so you can play along and learn Jingle Bell Rock by ear.
If you need technical support with the low 1st finger (and want to meet my cat), click here for a 90-second video to help break this down.
Use stick-on jewels on the fine tuners to help make violin playing fun and personalized for young students.
This idea for making violin fun comes from one of my 5-year-old students who brought in some stick-on jewels one lesson. While I have a strict rule for no stickers on the face of the violin, I thought to add these to the fine tuners would not damage the instrument and they helped a young musician make her music-making a little more personalized and festive.
You can purchase these on Amazon by searching for stick-on jewels and also at many stores in the scrapbooking and craft sections.
All of the awesome Music for Young Violinist music is on sale at 40% off Friday thru Monday.
(November 23-November 26).
No need to leave your home or wait for delivery because this music is available as an instant download so you can start learning your favorite Holiday Tunes (or Fiddle) this afternoon.
While you are here visiting the Music for Young Violinists site, please:
1- Sign-up for a free packet of music on the HOME PAGE.
2- Download some inspiring freebies on the FREEBIES page.
3- Sign-up for the GIVEAWAY CONTEST on the blog.
Things 4 Strings® Studio Kit:
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!