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Three Styles of Bowing


Level:        Book One


Purpose:   To learn about three bowing styles -  Martelé,  Détaché,  and  Slow.


Notes:       This lesson works well when spread out over three or four classes.

       Suggestions for the teacher’s verbal presentation are in italics.

       Definitions of the bow strokes are included so that the goal of the activities is clear.


Set-up:     (1) Play through Allegro from Suzuki Volume One

                  (2) "There are three styles of bowing in this piece:

- Martelé 

- Détaché

- Slow

       (3) Give a brief demonstration of each.

       (4) "We are going to add style to Allegro by learning to do these bow strokes."



ActivitiesWeek One - Martelé

In Martelé, each stroke begins with a burst of speed and then comes to a stop. Weight is applied to the string before the beginning of the stroke and released as the bow begins to move, giving each note a crisp attack.


(1)   Run, then Wait

  • Place the instruments in a safe place

  • Have students gather at one side of the room

  • When I say GO run quickly to the other side of the room, then wait

On your mark, get set - GO!

  • When I say GO run back, then wait

On your mark, get set - GO!


(2)   Fast Hands

  • Have students place their right hand on their head

  • When I say GO bring your hand to your knee fast as you can

On your mark, get set - GO!

  • When I say GO bring your hand to your head as fast as you can

            (Don’t hit yourself, land gently)

On your mark, get set - GO!


(3)   Martelé on the Violin

  • Have students place their bows on the E string, in the middle

  • “Sink in and grab the string with the bow hair

When I say GO

Release your hold on the string as you move quickly to the tip

Then wait – It will sound like Ping or Pow

On your mark, get set - GO!”

  • “Sink in and grab the string with the bow hair

When I say GO

Release your hold on the string as you move quickly back to the middle

On your mark, get set - GO!”


(4)   Pass the Martelé

  • Take turns playing the martelé stroke

  • Work for a crisp, fast stroke and listen for the ‘Ping’

The most common problems are: not releasing the weight when the bow starts to move; and moving the bow before applying weight.


(5)   Twinkle, Variation B

  • Play together, listening for space after each note


(6)   The Martelé Bow Stroke in Allegro

  • Have students play the martelé (the quarter notes in the 1st, 2nd & 4th phrases), while you play everything else

Harmony (Part I)


Level:        Advanced-Beginner through Intermediate


Purpose:   To introduce chordal harmony


Set-up:     (1) Play the melody to Chorus from Judas Maccabaeus for the class

                  (2) Play Suzuki’s three-part arrangement of Chorus, found in Duets for Two Violins

(Summy Birchard)









       (3) Today we will learn about harmony.

Harmony is a different part that sounds good when played along with a melody.

The word harmony comes from the Greek word ‘harmonia’ meaning agreement.

In the example we just listened to, there were two additional parts played along with the melody.


Harmony adds texture and interest to a piece of music.

Adding a harmony part to a melody is like:

- Adding chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and a cherry to a bowl of ice cream

- Coloring in the outlines supplied in a coloring book

- Putting on 3-D glasses at a movie

Adding cinnamon and cloves to applesauce that you are heating up on the stove


A melody is built from the notes of a scale.

A simple harmony can be made from the notes of that scale that sound good or ‘agree’ with the melody notes.




Experience Harmony

1 - D Scale

Divide the class into 3 groups

Have Group 1 play a D scale

Add Group 2 - have them start on F# and play up the octave, remaining in D

Add Group 3 – have them start on A and play up the octave, remaining in D


2 - Oh Come, Little Children

Review the melody

Teach the bass line to the class and then have them play it while you play the melody

Divide the class into two groups; one will play melody and the other the bass line, while you add the middle part

Enjoy the beautiful three-part harmony!

3 – Harmony only

Play the accompaniments to familiar pieces from the Suzuki repertoire on either piano or violin and see if the class can identify them.


4 - Wrap Up

Play a recording of something wonderfully harmonized. For example:


Alleluia by Randall Thompson           - or-           As Vesta was from Latmos Hill Descending

5 – For more work with harmony I recommend Kerstin Wartberg’s "My Trio Book (Suzuki Volumes 1-2 Arranged for Three Violins)"


The "Violin Two" book contains a middle harmony -


The "Violin Three" book contains a bass line harmony -


There is also a score -


To play music in the classroom (from a phone, tablet or laptop)

I've had great luck with the extremely portable iHM79 speakers

from iHome. Plenty of sound and very easy to set up.

Notes Have Names


Level:            Early Book One


Purpose:       To learn about thnames of the notes on the A and E strings


Purpose:       Index cards labeled A, B, C#, D, E, F# - one for each student

Paper; Markers


Set-up:          Have students sit with violins held under their bow arms – guitar style

The musical alphabet is a lot shorter than the alphabet you learned in school

It contains only 7 letters: ABCDEFG

All the notes on the violin are named either ABCDEF or G

You already know the names of these notes:

Pluck and name the open strings together

Let’s learn some more





(1)       Name and pluck the notes in the A scale. Explain that some of the notes have the last

            name “sharp”. The sharp makes the note a little higher.


(2)       Choose random notes from the A scale and have the group find them


(3)       Name and pluck the notes in Twinkle


(4)       Bell Choir Twinkle

-Have students pick a card from the “Note Name” deck – they are in charge of that note

-Play Twinkle - standing and using bows - each student playing his/her assigned note

-This is also fun with other early Book One pieces


(5)       Compose a Song

-Hand out paper and markers

-Each student composes a measure of music by writing down four note names

-Parents become a human music stand, holding up the pages

-Students play their “measures” consecutively, forming a melody

-After you’ve practiced it so that it flows, have students add some rhythmic

 variation to their measure

-Record the group composition


Feeling the Beat


Level:           Any


Purpose:      To develop an awareness of the beat in music


Set-up:         Students sit in a circle


T: Underneath music there is a beat. The beat keeps the music going in the same    way that the beating of our heart keeps us going.


Play a piece from your class’ current repertoire without a beat - playing the notes at random times but in order


T: Do you recognize this song?

Give me a steady beat (tap hands on knees) and I’ll play it again.

The beat is the foundation of a piece of music. Building the piece you are playing on a steady beat gives it life and energy.





(1)       Find the Beat - Play various musical examples and have students tap the beat.


(2)       Who Took the Cookie? - In this classic game, students recite a childhood chant while

keeping a beat.

Detailed written instructions can be found here:


(3)      Pass the Ball - Introduce students to the metronome and then use it to set a beat. Pass

a ball around the circle to that beat. How many passes can the class complete? How fast can they get?


(4)      Twinkle Pass – Students stand with their violins

Play Twinkle Variation A, each student playing one rhythmic unit                   , passing

it around the circle.  Keep it going - don't drop the ball!

Try this with all of the Variations and the Theme.


(5)       You Be the Metronome! - Choose a piece that everyone knows

Students take turns being the Metronome – deciding what the beat will be and tapping it on a drum while the rest of the class plays the piece.


(6)       March and Play - March the beat while playing a piece – a challenge at any level!

It’s enough for most Twinkle level students to march while the teacher plays, but everyone else should do both. Get the feet going first and then start playing.


(7)       The Wheel - The goal here is to form a wheel and "turn it" to the beat of the music


Form a human wheel:

- students and teacher sit on the floor in a circle

- their legs straight out (the spokes)

- their feet touching in the middle of the circle (the hub)

- the palms of their hands placed on the floor beside their hips


Practice "turning the wheel"

- Choose a direction

- To get the wheel moving, everyone lifts up their bottom with the beat and moves one space in the chosen direction on the next beat, keeping their feet touching in the middle


Now you are ready to play!

- Choose a student to play a piece

- As they play, teacher taps the beat so everyone knows what it is

- Then, Go!


When things get bogged down, switch directions

Have the students take turns playing the piece


My students love this game – both being a part of the wheel and playing to turn it.

© 2018 CAM Publications

"I've never known a musician who regretted being one. Whatever deceptions life may have in store for you, music itself is not going to let you down."  - Virgil Thomson

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