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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Quick Practice Tip: Using a Whisper Tube

When working with beginning students, I often use a whisper tube to help the student understand the sound of rhythm. We use empty toilet paper rolls. We place the bow inside the tube and the tube on the violin shoulder. Then we turn our head to the tube and "whisper" a rhythm to it, such as "Mississippi Hotdog." When the bow moves, the bow plays back the same rhythm.

One mom took the idea a creative step further and decorated the tube with stickers and pictures. Then she encased the artwork with a layer of packing tape. We could also use shelf or drawer liner paper with pretty designs or colors.


  1. Do you have a picture of how it is used? Thanks,

    1. Hi, Carmen! We just put it on the violin shoulder and use the student's chin to hold it in place. Then with the bow inside the tube, I or the parent make sure that the tube is angled correctly so that the bow would be straight when pulled in and out of the tube. It really helps students to open the elbow.

      I also get the same effect by holding the student's bow on the violin, placed at the tip, and have the student run the bow hold up and down the straight bow to feel what it is like to play with a straight bow.

      For beginners though, we just use a few inches in the part of the bow where the child's elbow forms a "square." The whisper tube works well for this.

  2. Hi Paula, thanks for this. >> When the bow moves, the bow plays back the same rhythm. << How does the bow move? By the parent? or the child?

    1. The bow is inside the tube, and the child holds the tube on the violin shoulder, pointing the tube straight forward. The child whispers "Mississippi Hotdog," to the tube, then the child (or the parent/teacher the first few times) attempts to recreate the same whisper rhythm sound with the bow that the child whispered. I believe in the 2-1 ratio: two times by the teacher/parent, then 1 time by the child. In this way the child is exposed twice as often to the correct execution. I'll try and remember to make a video of this.