Some general points FOR THE TEACHER:

REMEMBER: these are MY way of doing things. YOU can take and use ANY of them, and blend them with your own ideas, that work for YOU and YOUR kids!


  • All violins/vlas STAND, but can sit on bottoms, with legs crossed and instruments IN FRONT of them for singing. The “up and down” means they are also getting some exercise!
  • ALL celli and bass seated – usually celli in rows on the right, with basses behind them
  • I teach from the keyboard out the front. NOT a piano, as I want to SEE them all – there are 63, with weapons!!
  • I ALWAYS play piano, to give aural references, for singing and playing
  • ALL instruments have 1/2/3 ; 1/3/4; 1/4 finger markers. How can they LEARN what “in tune” is, with everything they have to do, as beginners. It’s ONE less thing, but it reinforces muscle memory, as well as aural aptitude.
  • HELPERS do not have to be string players, for purposes of walking around, fixing posture, fallen shoulder rests etc, but DO have to be string players if demonstrating or doing STAFF meetings.


Beginner Strings Book 1

  • Most of the written instructions can be explained by the teacher – pick and choose, but you can go straight to the open string plucking – they just wanna play!
  • For F#, we now sing “Fis”. So I tell the kids: When we SING this note, we sing FIS, but we know it’s REALLY called?” and they shout back “F SHARP!”
  • I don’t use GUN/LETTER C any more for setting up pizz hand. (we don’t like guns!) I use: WATER-PISTOL / LETTER C and they squirt me – they think that’s hilarious.
  • Sing the fingers, sing the Letters, use solfa (if it’s a do re mi song or drm-sl)
  • We always “SHOW” the fingers, when we sing fingers AND letters
  • They can’t ALL sing their fingers at the same time, obviously, so you can either ALL sing letters and show fingers OR “let’s all sing and show the CELLO fingers” etc
  • When we get to D Major scale, that’s Term 2 – using bow
  • Now you can add 2 more ways to sing: Bow Direction: Down up down AND Bow Speed – fast slow fast


Beginner Strings Book 2 – It looks the same as Bk 1 cover, but uses STAFF

  • Still sing everything
  • Use hand-staff in 3 clefs
  • All pieces are original, so have to be READ
  • Sequential – open strings, then one finger at a time, on the “common strings”
  • This can be used as the 1st book in a one-on-one teaching situation


All the way through terms 1, 2 and 3, we add songs that they have learned in class. When we do so/mi songs, they are great for the first string-crossing experience – A to F# – or do/so. (Sea-Shells, Fuzzy Wuzzy, Pease porridge, Rain come wet me – and even MORNING from Peer Gynt I HAVE changed a few things, like the FIS and the GUN – and there could be a couple more – as I said, the book is really only used by the kids as a visual reference to the PIECES, if they can’t remember the notes at first.

I use a POWERPOINT version when the pieces are new, so they don’t have to use MUSIC OR STANDS – a helper can then point to the notes.!! Less packing up. This of course is only so they can be familiar with the LOOK of the book, for those who are visual learners.

Most pieces are taught aurally and MOST kids can remember the fingers and letters, (Hearing and feeling) which is enough to work on for practice.



Sing and String Power Point

  • This might give you some ideas on how to approach the “togetherness” with classroom
  • Sounds like you won’t have to “sell” the instrumental music concept to your bosses, but there are good pedagogical things to throw around in here
  • THIS version is the one that I had to remind me of what to say and do in the presentation, so if there’s anything you don’t understand, please ask.


Year 3 Overview

  • Classroom music preparation UP TO when we start the string program – this will be handy for your teachers to compare.
  • Term by term overview of the String program – I certainly don’t have weekly lesson plans, after 30 years of doing this, but like MOST instrumental music programs, it’s more about: “when is the concert and what the &^&* am I going to play by then?”
  • Bottom line is this: kids at this age still LOVE repetition, so doing the same this 10 different ways is NEVER boring to them


“STAFF MEETINGS”: this is when the staff “demonstrates” the WRONG way – and the kids correct us. REMEMBER: ONE mistake at a time only!

  • Rhythms not together – speeds all different
  • Pitch not correct – need to check that fingers are not “almost, kind of, sort of or nearly”, but EXACTLY on the mark
  • Posture – left wrist, elbows too low, standing with one leg crossed over, sitting badly (Celli/ bass)
  • Tiny/short /stiff bows
  • Pizzicato with weak Lhand or badly placed point of pizz contact (I usually have a tiny cute sticker up the fingerboard to show where they SHOULD be plucking)
  • LOTS of CONCEPTS can be reinforced this way, as long as the CORRECT model has been demonstrated well
  • This also provides them with a kind of “checklist” for practice
  • Can be BROAD or SPECIFIC, but always ONE concept at a time.
  • Correction by the kids can be either “hands up” answers , or “come out and help me” (e.g.) for posture



And remember, there’s NO such thing as a stupid question – especially from you to me about all of all of this.