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Thursday, June 15, 2017

5 Ways to Use Post-It Tabs to help violin and viola students

Post-It Tabs are a great little gem to have in your studio or classroom.  The tabs are thick and sturdy with enough adhesive to stay in place and are easy to remove without damaging the instrument.  These are different from the Post-It flags which look similar but are much more flimsy.  Here are 5 ways you can use these tabs to help students with bowing, left hand position, and shifting:

1.  Stick the tabs directly on the bow as a guide to show students what part of the bow to use when playing an exercise.  The colored tabs create a great visual to help students pay attention to their bow speed and bow placement.  If you allow the tab to hang below the stick it will make a noise if the student accidentally crosses one of the tabs.  This will alert the student to re-focus and correct bowing to stay within the allotted boundary.

2.  Use the tabs as a guide to help students keep their bow straight and keep the bow placed between the bridge and the fingerboard.  Cut one tab into thirds (for a tiny violin you would have to cut one tab into fourths).  Fold the bottom of the tab to create a small flap.  Stick the thin tabs in between the strings to create a 'wall' where the bow should not cross when bowing on the strings.  I like to tell students that the tabs are like the flags in downhill skiing.  The bow must stay in the boundaries.  When bowing, students watch to make sure the bow never touches the tabs.  In my experience, the tabs have always stayed in place, as long as you wipe off any rosin dust on the instrument before sticking them on. 

3.  Do you ever have students who keep the left thumb too high over the fingerboard?  These tabs create a great visual to help students break this bad habit.  Stick a tab on the side of the neck.  The student must keep their thumb on the clear part of the tab - they are not to allow the thumb to touch the colored part of the tab.  If the thumb comes up too high, the tab will be pushed toward the string and students can easily see the issue and correct the problem.

4.  Pancake wrist is a common problem among beginning violin and viola students.  Stick a tab on the underside of the violin/viola on the top of the saddle.  Students are to be careful to not allow their wrist to touch the tab.  If a student collapses their wrist, they will feel the tab and remember to correct their position.

5.  Tabs can be useful when teaching shifting.  Cut a strip from a tab and use it as a tape to mark 3rd position.  The flap should hang over the left side of the fingerboard.  When practicing shifting, students can use the tap as a guide, but also use the tab to help guide the thumb.  Some students forget to move the thumb when shifting.  The tab helps students remember to move the thumb with the hand during a shift.

Pick up some Post-It tabs next time you're at the store and try these ideas!  I hope this tips will help you and your students.  Happy teaching!