Violin Movement Building Blocks

Designed for children ages 3-6, these whimsical and fun videos help young beginners master the complex movements of playing the violin while singing enjoyable songs that form the Kaleidoscopes violin repertoire.
Violin posture problems often arise when various parts of the body haven’t yet learned to move independently. For example, an effort to bend one finger results in several fingers (and the thumb) bending as well.

CLICK the tabs to view the videos. All of the exercises are detailed in Kaleidoscopes Book 1.

Teacher Note: The videos are designed for young children to watch and participate, so the violin and bow hands are demonstrated in mirror image (i.e. matching the child’s perspective).

Hand and Finger Skills

BASE JOINTS: Yankee Doodle
The Yankee Doodle activity builds the skill of aligning the base of the finger with the back of the hand, and keeping the other fingers relaxed while the index is fully bent.

VIDEO: Yankee Doodle

BASE JOINTS: Naughty Kitty
The Naughty Kitty activity helps students to notice the two possible alignments between the finger and the hand. This control is important for both the bow and violin hand.  

VIDEO: Naughty Kitty Cat

The finger-play to the tune of “Are You Sleeping” (“Where is do Finger”) is perfect for snuggling before bed, practicing finding fingers doremi, and fa (index through pinky). Parents, if your child is on your lap, your child can easily see your hand directly beside their own, making it easier for them to find the correct finger.

VIDEO: Frere Jacques

In addition to building awareness of the different fingers, the Birds’ Wedding activity also differentiates the finger tip from the finger pad, and the skill of pressing the finger.

VIDEO forthcoming: Birds’ Wedding

Button You May Wander develops dexterity by picking up small items with each finger. It is also a midline-crossing activity. Your child may need your help finding the correct fingers! Supplies needed: a large book or box; four large beads or pom-poms.

VIDEO: Button You May Wander

HAND AND ARM: White Coral Bells
White Coral Bells practices maintaining a simple bow hand (“bow bunny”) while bending the wrist. In the high position, the wrist is convex; in the low position, it is concave.

VIDEO forthcoming: White Coral Bells

This Old Man develops lateral finger independence. In the scissors shape, the fingers form a “V.” In the “Rocket Booster” shape, the index and pinky separate, while the middle two fingers stay together.

VIDEO forthcoming: This Old Man

FINGER ISOLATIONS: Bingo, Hole in the Bucket
Bingo develops the ability to maintain the curve of the middle fingers while alternately lifting the pinky and index finger.

VIDEO forthcoming: Bingo

Hole in the Bucket develops the ability to maintain a curve in the middle fingers while extending the pinky.

VIDEO forthcoming: Hole in the Bucket

FINGER BENDS: Reuben & Rachel, Paw Paw, Hole in the Bucket
Reuben & Rachel develops the ability to bend the index while maintaining the thumb straight. Paw Paw Patch develops the reverse skill.

VIDEO forthcoming: Reuben & Rachel
VIDEO forthcoming: Paw Paw Patch

Hole in the Bucket develops the ability to maintain a curve in the middle fingers while alternately curving and extending the pinky.

VIDEO forthcoming: Hole in the Bucket

Body & Arm Awareness

ARM ROTATION: Mary Had a Little Lamb

This activity practices the twisted and lifted position of the violin arm, which can feel unfamiliar and awkward to a novice player. 

Two-step version: Raise the left arm and touch the side of the pinky to the nose. Four-step version: Twist the arm as above, then extend outward.

VIDEO: Mary Had a Little Lamb

ARM ROTATION: All My Little Ducklings
This activity practices the rotation of the arm using both arms and touching the elbows together. 

VIDEO forthcoming: All My Little Ducklings

BOW ARM: Hot Cross Buns, Boil Them Cabbage, Skip to My Lou
The Hot Cross Buns exercise develops awareness of keeping the bow arm level and opening from the elbow.

VIDEO: Hot Cross Buns

In the “Boil Them Cabbage” activity, the “hayride” (bouncing above the shoulder) establishes the hand position for playing at the frog. It also builds comfort with having the bow arm raised to the level of the violin.

Do this activity standing up, making sure not to twist to the left.

VIDEO: Boil Them Cabbage (Hay Ride)

Skip to My Lou teaches the distinction between opening from the elbow (the correct motion) and opening from the shoulder (the wrong motion). 

VIDEO forthcoming: Skip to My Lou

Once students have done the movements for the left and right arms separately, these are added together.

Two-Step Version: Going from resting arms to playing arms.

Four-Step Version: Same as above, except adding an “open, close” of the bow arm.

VIDEO forthcoming: Twinkle, Twinkle 

When young children turn their head, they naturally turn their entire body. As a result, when they play violin they may gradually twist to the left. This lively pre-violin exercise helps them isolate the head turn.

VIDEO: Toddy-O (Stuck in Clay)

CIRCLES: Buttercup
All Around the Buttercup introduces a preliminary bowhold, the “bow bunny.” 

Version 1: Circle the Bow Bunny with just the hand

Version 2: Same as above, but inserting a pencil into the bow bunny.

VIDEO forthcoming: All Around the Buttercup

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