Learning to play the violin is both challenging and rewarding. It is an instrument that creates some of the world's loveliest music. Reaching this level of lovely sound, however, requires dedication and many hours of practice. For beginner and intermediate students, learning through games can make the experience easier. Younger children especially will be more apt to practice on their own if the exercises take the form of fun games.
This simple exercise should be first taught to beginners without making use of the bow. The thumb of the bow hand is bent up, and the middle and ring fingers are brought down to meet it, forming a circle. The pinky and index fingers are left pointing upward. The student learns that these fingers form the ears of the rabbit, while the thumb and other fingers are the teeth. This teaches the proper technique for holding the bow. Students are encouraged to practice making the "rabbit face" at home by holding a pencil, then finally to practice this same hold on the bow.
Once students know the proper way to hold the bow, the see-saw game can help them learn balance in handling the bow. The bow is held straight out in front of them at arm's length, held properly between the thumb and middle two fingers. The index finger and pinky are held in the air. They then are instructed to slowly lower their index finger, making the bow dip in one direction. Then they lower their pinky to dip the bow back the other way. This helps the fingers become strong and flexible.
Choo Choo Train
When the violin is held in place and ready to be played, the choo choo train game helps the student make her first sounds with the instrument. Holding the bow in a middle position, the student simply taps the strings with the bow. The taps then get faster and faster, imitating the sound of a train coming closer. When the student is ready, this game can also be taught with her holding the bow in a down position.
Once the student is playing the instrument, he will be spending many hours playing scales. Practicing scales is an integral part of becoming a good violinist. Anything that makes them more fun for the student is a help. With the snake charmer game, the student first plays a major scale, then, when the teacher says "snake charmer," he switches to a minor scale. Scales played in a minor key are reminiscent of snake charmer music. This exercise helps students improve their musical ear while they practice scales.