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Monday, September 12, 2016

G Major Twinkle Workout

Give Your Students a Pinkie, Vibrato, and 3rd Position Challenge!

Most teachers and Suzuki students are quite familiar with the theme of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." Suzuki Teachers are even familiar with teaching the Twinkle theme in the key of Bb to prepare students for the Bb scale and finger pattern in violin book 2.

I also regularly use Twinkle Theme in the last third of violin book 1 during Etude and the Minuets. When I teach students how to play the theme in G major, students improve the necessary skills found in the last songs of book 1.

I teach my students the two-octave G major scale and the new close 1-2 finger pattern on the A and E strings to prepare for learning how to play Etude. As the students progress on this scale, I add the pinkie fingering on the scale's descent. 

When the student is comfortable with this new finger pattern and the long G major scale (one of my students calls this the "super duper G scale"), I introduce a new way to play Twinkle theme. Because this is "new," I find that it is easier to get students to play Twinkle again if they have slacked off on their review program.

Twinkle in G major 1st position
Twinkle Theme in G Major

The students get a little extra practice with the new G major finger pattern, and the pinkie and third finger combination gets a little extra attention as well, which helps the part of the first Minuet that has the difficult stretch from third finger to the pinkie that spans across from the D string to the A string, as shown below.

third finger to pinkie stretch across from D to A string
Minuet 1 Pinkie Stretch
In book 2, I introduce students to third position. I usually do this when students are working on their vibrato skill. As students are able to play notes with vibrato, we translate the vibrato exercises into the Suzuki repertoire. At first, the students add vibrato on longer third finger notes, such as the dotted half notes at the ends of the Minuets' phrases. Then we add vibrato to the long third finger notes in Chorus from Judas Maccabeus and at the end of Musette. Later we will be able to add vibrato to Long, Long Ago from book 2.

Somewhere during all of this, I might have introduced third position with a G major scale:

1 octave G scale in 3rd position on D and A strings
G Major Scale in 3rd Position
Now students can practice vibrato on this scale. The next step might be to introduce Twinkle Theme in third position, using the same Twinkle in G major that we had learned at the end of book 1 and now playing it in third position.

I have found that a new Twinkle helps me to stay focused as well as my students. G major adds an element of fun to our review.

Happy Practicing!

----- Paula -----

© 2016 by Paula E. Bird

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