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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Let's Do a Twinkle Challenge!

Most of us had a holiday break recently. Family outings, travel, and social occasions may have tugged us away from our good intentions of regular and consistent practice. I sympathized with any of my students who reported a dismal practice record over the holiday break. I struggled myself to find personal practice time and energy to accomplish anything other than staying on top of my performance commitments.

So, I propose that we find a way to get ourselves on track, and what better way to do that than a Twinkle Challenge! Here are some ways to do a Twinkle Challenge:
  • Play through the Twinkle, Twinkle Variations every day. Focus on correct execution of articulation and intonation while maintaining correct posture.
  • Play through the Twinkle, Twinkle Variations at the next lesson, or perhaps the first lesson of each month for the next three months.
  • As students progress through the Suzuki repertoire, add appropriate challenges for the students' levels. I will make a few suggestions below to whet your creativity.
Here are a few basic ideas for challenging violin students as they improve in skill and ability development.

Book 1:
  • Play the variations on different strings.
  • Play the variations in G major, as suggested in one of my earlier blog articles (click here to read more).
  • Play a new Twinkle variation by using a new bowing style. For example, try playing Variation D with down-up-up, down-up-up bows, as in the bowing style used in the first measure of Minuet 1.
  • Use left hand pizzicato to pluck all the open E and A strings and play the other notes with the bow. This is a great pinky strengthener.
Books 2 and 3:
  • Play the variations in D or A minor, to mirror the finger patterns found in "The Two Grenadiers" and Lully's "Gavotte."
  • Play the variations in Bb, starting on Bb, as in the middle section of Mignon's "Gavotte."
  • Play a new variation using a bowing suggested by Paganini's "Theme" from "Witches' Dance." This variation example is actually found in book 2 already.
Books 4 and above:
  • Play the variations starting with up bow. The variations should sound as good as they would if played with a starting down bow.
  • Play the variations in higher positions or with shifts to stay on one string.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list but one to get you started thinking. I have done Twinkle challenges in the past, and I was amazed at how well the studio students sounded when we revisited the Twinkle Variations on a regular basis.


----- Paula -----

© 2017 by Paula E. Bird

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