As a teacher, I’m always on the lookout for ways to help parents and kids through the challenge of establishing a consistent and functional bow arm. This idea from my student, Daelyn, and her mother, Deion, is one of my favorites.
It takes quite a bit of practice to attain good form – knowing how to hold the bow is one thing, but putting that knowledge into practice is another. Parents are encouraged to learn how to hold the violin and bow themselves to feel how tension attempts to find its way in. Further, parents’ aid during their children’s daily practice time is invaluable. Often, however, practice time becomes a list of fix-its: “Check your bow hold! Relax! Pizza Hand!” Kids know this list well, but the repetition, though necessary, can put a dent in the positivity that early practicing should involve.
Daelyn and Deion’s brilliant solution is to boil this string of comments down to one key word – blue. “Blue” is neutral, and its one-syllable nature makes it a quick way for Daelyn to check her overall posture frequently during practice. Blue is deliberately unrelated to violin; it simply hints to Daelyn what she already knows. It allows Daelyn and Deion to work as a team while still giving Daelyn independence in fixing each detail. Further, the meaning of “blue” changes as Daelyn grows. For Daelyn, long gone are the days of the difficult bow hold, and vibrato is now the task du jour.
The results speak for themselves – Daelyn’s playing level has skyrocketed since the start of her lessons in the fall of 2013. Bravo, Daelyn and Deion!
All opinions are by Lauren Haley and all original content is copyright 2015 Lauren Haley Studios.
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