Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bunny Bow Hand

Welcome back to my second installment of my music posts.  Last week I wrote about young kids and music and what I do with my kids at home to expose them to many types of music.  This week I am explaining my technique when teaching the violin and viola bow hold.

One of the most awkward things about beginning violin and viola playing is getting the correct bow hand. With my teaching style I typically spend the first few weeks strengthening the left hand with games and little exercises before I introduce the bow hand.  After about three or four lessons I introduce the bow hand by telling a story about a bunny.

Step 1: Make a bunny with your left hand. Your middle fingers are the big teeth that hang over the thumb/bottom tooth. The thumb is placed behind the 1st knuckle of the middle fingers. Make sure the thumb is bent out! The index finger and pinky stay high in the air as the ears.

Step 2: The bunny is hungry!  I use an orange highlighter or marker for this part. It is better to use something a little thicker than a pen or pencil because it is easier for the young kids to hold.  Put the carrot in the bunny's mouth. Place the highlighter at the first knuckle and the thumb will hold the highlighter in place. It is very important to check the thumb and make sure it is bent out, not it.

Step 3: Let the ears fall down. Place the pinky on top of the highlighter and the first finger hangs over. The highlighter should be behind the second knuckle of the index finger (or there about, depending on the size of the child's hand). Turn the hand over and check the thumb. Is it bent out?

Here is what it looks like in practice with a 5 year old student (my son!)

His favorite part is when we feed the bunny his carrot. He turns it into a game and talks for the bunny.  It is very cute, but in the end he is learning something. I always make sure his thumb is bent out. I tell him if his thumb is bent in, the bunny can't eat the carrot because his jaw is broken. It works. Sebastian always makes sure his thumb is bent out.

This is a simple but effective technique for kids (and adults) of all ages.  It stays in their head so that later down the line if their bow hand is getting lazy I can remind them about the bunny.

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