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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Quick Practice Tip: Finger Patterns in Suzuki Violin Volumes 1 and 2

Several folks have asked about the finger patterns used in the first Suzuki books. Here are the ones that I have hanging on my studio wall. I assigned a color to each of the patterns just for reference. The notes I have listed here are the notes of the finger pattern as it applies to the A string. The song in parenthesis is where I first noticed the pattern.

Suzuki Volume 1:

  • Red: A-B-C#-D-E, 2nd and 3rd fingers are a half step apart (Twinkle)
  • Blue: A-B-C-D-E, 1st and 2nd fingers are a half step apart (Etude)
  • Yellow: A-B-C#-D#-E, 3rd and 4th fingers are a half step apart (Minuet 2)

Suzuki Volume 2:

  • Purple: A-Bb-C-D-E, no half steps (Two Grenadiers)
  • Pink: A-B-C-D-Eb, half steps between 1st and 2nd and 3rd and 4th fingers (Witches Dance)
  • Orange: A-Bb-C-D-Eb, 3rd and 4th fingers are a half step apart (Mignon Gavotte)
  • Green: A-Bb-C#-D-E, 2nd and 3rd fingers are a half step apart, wide space between 1st and 2nd fingers (Lully Gavotte)
  • Black: A-B-C-D#-E, 3rd and 4th fingers are a half step apart, wide space between 2nd and 3rd fingers (Minuet in G)

The revised Suzuki volumes now include these finger patterns. I use these finger patterns as a way to warm up. I play each pattern with a slur four times in one bow.


  1. How do you use the finger pattern colours?

  2. I have a little chart of the patterns on my studio wall and at the university too. Each pattern is colored. I just refer to the colors. I found the patterns helpful recently when working with a student in book 7 on the Bach A minor concerto. There is a passage on page 2 with a long scale that alternates between several patterns. After the student analyzed the scale and figured out what each pattern was, he wrote the color above the group of notes, and then he nailed the passage the next time. Sometimes students just need to see the patterns visually, and the colors help. Personally, I like to use the patterns as a warmup routine. I play each pattern four times in a down bow and four times in an upbow. Then I change the pattern.

  3. I do this very traditional way. I introduce him to the scale.

    1. Yes, that is a great way to use the patterns. Sometimes the scales have the same patterns, sometimes they vary. So both are helpful. I show the patterns in color for the visual students, and then we figure out which patterns are in the scales.

    2. My boy works a lot on hearing too. He has the usual 3 stickers on his violin from when he first started learning his twinkles but he places his fingers "higher/lower" than the labels based on what he hears the note to be and whether he sees a "natural", "flat" or "sharp" on the score as well. So the scales help in reminding him what to expect for that piece. anyway, I used that "method" only bc my elder boy's violin teacher did that last time?

    3. I think scales are very important. We learn the names of notes right away by learning our first scale (A major on violin). We want to learn our scales fast so we can play Music Twister. I wrote about the importance of scales in my article: "The Big Whyne":

    4. I guess for us, we do have the long-term view of eventually taking board exams, so scales are important for that, including note-reading. So far, my boy hasn't complained about scales! haha. We've done up to Grade 2 abrsm scales & arpeggios. Good in practising those slurrings too.