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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Song of the Wind (part 2): Jumping Finger Preview

Jumping Finger Preview

In this preview, I will introduce the jumping finger section of measure 3. First I play measures 3 and 4 for the student a few times first and ask some questions to help the student develop awareness through the eyes and ears:
  • Which finger did I hold down?
  • Which finger jumped?
  • What strings did my bow play on?
I ask the student to place the first finger F# on the E string and "superglue" the finger throughout the exercise. I then ask the student to play "Mississippi Hot Dog" rhythm (4-16th notes and 2 staccato 8th notes) on the F#.

While the student holds down the super glued first finger F#, I then instruct the student to "cross over" the third finger (ring finger) to play Mississippi Hot Dog ("MHD") on the D on the A string. Sometimes I cross my right leg over my left as a reinforcement illustration of this finger crossing.

While still holding down the F#, I have the student "jump" the third finger (ring finger) over to the high A on the E string and play MHD on the high A.

While still holding the F# down, the student lifts off the third finger to reveal the F# still in place and plays MHD.

We remove the "superglue" finger (the student lifts off the F# finger) and the student plays MHD on the E string.

The student repeats this sequence of notes and finger execution several times until the student remembers what to do and the parent is comfortable with duplicating the lesson at home.

I build on this basic skill by gradually shortening the length of time on each note in the jumping finger pattern. I ask the student to play the sequence again and shorten the rhythm on each note using these rhythms:

Mississippi Hot Dog



Hot Dog

And finally, the student plays the jumping finger passage as originally written:

Original Passage

The student will need reinforcement to remember these important teaching points:
  • Hold down the F# throughout the execution of the jumping finger segment. This superglue finger is important, because it aids the student in learning the spatial distance between the first and third fingers. This is an important skill in shaping the proper left hand set-up on the violin. As time goes on, the student gets a little sloppy about this requirement, so the parent and I are vigilant about watching this.
  • "Jump" the third finger from the A to the E string rather than laying down the finger to cover both strings. Be sure the mom or other home practice partner understands the difference between a jumping third finger and a third finger that lays down across the two strings as a short cut!
    • More advanced players will develop the skill of covering both strings with the same finger.
    • This is not the time for introducing this concept, as allowing the student to lay down the third finger encourages the bad habit of allowing the left hand to fall down.
Students will exhibit the problem of the "falling" left hand as they progress through books 1 and 2, and Dr. Suzuki set this song up in the beginning of book 1 to provide a vehicle for keeping the left hand from falling. For this reason, Song of the Wind is an excellent song for review!

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