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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Do you like your sound?

This week, I wanted to focus on quality sound/tone.  I began with a video of the week to introduce the idea of clean, strong tone.  We listened only to the music...I didn't let the students see who was playing the music.  Then after a couple minutes, I turned on the projector and students were shocked to see a very young child creating amazing tone on the violin.

Next. I told students that they could create an equally powerful tone.  We talked about times we have heard our voices in a video or in a recording.  So many people believe their voice sounds different when they hear it in a video.  Students relate to this...maybe said they don't like how their voice sounds. I asked them if they like the sound of their instrument.  It is so easy to focus so intently on fingering, that we forget to notice what we sound like.  And we can so easily change our sound for the better!

Students next played 4 open D's with their best possible tone.  They really listened...and wanted to do this more than once to get their very best sound.  We talked about bow weight and bow speed.  I told students to move their bow fast on quarter notes, twice as slow on half notes, and twice as slow again on whole notes.  As we played warm-ups, students focused on bow speed and they listened to their sound.  I demonstrated a tune played with only one bow speed.  It was boring...and lacked clarity and volume.  Students enjoyed experimenting with bow speed it made our warm-ups way more fun.  My entire group sounded so much more mature after this activity - and I was happy to see some of my more timid students using more bow and getting a bigger sound.

There are times I have nagged my students to use more bow.  After this activity, I see that asking for 'more bow' is not as effective as asking for faster bow speed.  I will now focus on bow speed more often to help my groups develop powering tone.


  1. I just wanted to tell you that I really love your blog! You have such wonderful ideas and when there are such a limited number of string teachers within a district, it's great to hear what other people are doing around the country. Thank you for sharing!!