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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Song of the Wind, part 1

Song of the Wind is the third song in the Suzuki Violin Volume 1. The song is full of teaching gems, and I have found the song to be a useful teaching tool for younger students, a review song for more advanced students, and a great song for group class activities. Here is an overview of the skills contained in Song of the Wind.

Left Hand Skills
  • Song of the Wind is in A major and uses the same finger pattern as the Twinkle Variations and Lightly Row (close 2-3 finger pattern).
  • The song begins with ascending "walking fingers" as previously introduced in Lightly Row (exactly the same except for an additional E string).

Walking Fingers + E
  • The song introduces a "jumping finger" section in measures 3 and 5 to teach the student the spatial relationship between the first and third fingers, which:
    • is the basic foundation for the general shape or frame of the left hand.
    • supports good intonation by strengthening the "feel" of the distance between the first and third fingers.
    • teaches the student to hold down the first finger as a "corner fence post" to set up future finger patterns and combinations.
Jumping Finger
    • The song generally moves stepwise throughout the song except for the jumping finger section.
    • The song uses the descending scale pattern as learned in the Twinkle variations with the added complexity of changing pitches in a different rhythmic pattern in measures 7-9, 11-13).

    Descending scale

    Right Hand Skills
    • I prefer that my students use the staccato bow stroke.
      • Using staccato in the beginning of book 1 skill learning will set the student up for the creation of good tone production because staccato teaches good articulation (beginnings) of the notes.
      • Staccato, which is a stopped bow stroke, helps the student to use the brief "thinking pauses" between notes to set the bow properly to make good clean string crossings.
      • The song provides additional string crossing practice.
      • The song introduces down bow circles (4 circles on the first pass through the song and 3 on the repeat).
        • Down bow circles teach the student to stop and set the bow before proceeding, which will set the student up for later practice with double stops and chords.
        • Down bow circles afford the teacher an opportunity to check whether the student is retaining tension in the right shoulder.
        • Down bow circles teach the student about the importance of maintaining a good bow hold, since the student might lose control of the bow during the circle if the bow hold is not maintained well.
        Other Skills
        • The song builds up the student's ability to move the right and left hands and arms independently of each other.
          • The right bow hand drops down to the E string level when performing the jumping finger section of measures 3 and 5, but the left hand must retain its position on the A string level. Students tend to lay down their left third fingers when making the "jump" because they are trying to mirror the motion of the right side of their bodies.
          • The student has to fight the temptation to drop the left hand down a string level to match the right hand motion.
        • The song introduces the concept of holding down pivotal fingers. In this particular song, the first finger F# on the E string becomes the "corner fence post" or "superglue finger" with which the third finger can use to stretch into position on the A and E strings. In later songs, Dr. Suzuki will introduce other such sustained finger placements.
          • I live in a rural community, and most of my students are very familiar with the construction of fences.
          • We dig a hole for the corner fence post and put it in cement. Once the corner post is secure in cement, we are able to add additional fence posts and to stretch the fencing wire in between the posts.
          • I use the corner fence post analogy when discussing the sustained F# finger for my slightly older students, and I use the "superglue finger" idea with my younger students.
        There are a lot of previews to the skills that a student will learn in Song of the Wind, and I will address those previews and my teaching methods in part 2 next week.

        Happy Teaching!


        1. I find the bow circles in the song can also "wake up" the child to mistakes in bowing... because if they have made a mistake somewhere in bowing (number of notes or something), they find they are at an up-bow when they go to do the bow circle....

          Great summary, thanks!

        2. This is a great thought! May I include it above in my skills summary?