Category Archives: Pre-Twinkle

Heidi Curatolo: 5th Suzuki Teachers Xchange Conference in Germany – PART 3

Heidi_2DAY 3
ntensive Course:
Pre-Twinkle and Book 1A


After the conclusion of the Main Conference, I stayed in Remscheid for two more days to participate in the Pre-Twinkle and Book 1A Intensive Course.


Sara and Silvia Migliorini:  Musical Garden
Italian sisters Sara and Silvia presented a demonstration of the Musical Garden. The Musical Garden is a non-instrument specific music and movement program in Italy for children. The curriculum consists of three different programs: Music Lullaby (for children from 0 to 3 years old, their mothers and their teachers), Children’s Music Laboratory (for children ages 3 to 10, with particular reference to the Suzuki methodology and support for the study of a musical instrument) and Dr. Music (a specific program for children with disabilities). Students in these programs learn to sing in tune, feel the beat, and learn many important music theory concepts. The Musical Garden classes support Dr. Suzuki’s belief that all children can develop musical, provided that their early environment supports such learning. For more information on the Musical Garden visit:

Sara and Silvia demonstrated a great number of wonderful Pre-Twinkle Activities from Children’s Music Laboratory. These exercises were both entertaining and very instructive for children and their parents.

Ruth Brons shared with us how she teaches Allegretto in a session titled

Teaching Dr. Suzuki’s Allegretto: Puzzles and Patterns


Here you will find a very detailed summary of Ruth’s lecture that she is generously sharing with all of us:

Conference material by Ruth Brons
Egg Puzzle for “Allegretto”

Sue Hunt “The 100 day practice Challeng

The Habit of Making Every Day Special.

How to develop a most important life skill in your students and yourself, the ability to follow through on a project, no matter how challenging.


Sue Hunt from London (Great Britain) says practice has to happen every day. Why doesn’t this happen easily?  She claims children don’t want to practice and parents find practice time too stressful.  In this session, Sue outlined many ways to make a 100-day practice challenge successful and rewarding. 
At her website,, Sue has created a 100-day practice kit that includes everything one could possibly want or need to kick start a new and effective daily practice habit. Sue taught the workshop participants her techniques for implementing the challenge in a teaching studio or with families and friends.  She shared with us examples of pledge certificates for children of all ages, weekly practice charts, tools for scheduling practice, milestone certificates, and ideas for celebrating the successful finish of the challenge (one way she recommended was to begin a NEW practice challenge).

Conference material by Sue Hunt

In a two-part session that happened on both Sunday evening and Monday morning, Charles Krigbaum from Texas (USA) presented Pre – Twinkle: Building Skills that Last a Lifetime, a series of lectures where Charles shared his Pre-Twinkle sequence and his lesson plans for the first several lessons with a new student.  He outlined his ideas about the use of a box violin and foot chart, lesson rituals, developing endurance for posture, balancing the bow hand, forming the left hand structure, securing the violin hold, developing a child’s tone concept, and training children to work with repetitions.

Evening program in relaxed atmosphere:
International Exchange

5 participants from 5 countries

Intensive Course:
Pre-Twinkle and Book 1A
Building Skills that Last a Lifetime, Part II

Charles Krigbaum shared that he spends anywhere between 6 weeks to 3 months on the box for a young child, and uses this time to find opportunities to teach attitude, behavior, and respect.  He says that it often takes him six months for a student to play a well-developed Twinkle.


He told teachers that during the journey through the Suzuki repertoire that we should be mindful that the students are not simply learning pieces, but that they are learning to play the violin. 
Charles_Pappgeige_2_KleinAccording to Charles, a student’s later success depends upon the teacher’s understanding and delivery of the material in the first volume.  He says that he learned this first-hand through his own experiences as a teacher committed to life-long learning.  He encourages us all to constantly revisit our ideas about Pre-Twinkle teaching.  He feels that it is important to keep ideas fresh, to have a clear vision of the student in mind, and to stay current with the best available information.

Charles believes that a teacher must be able to see with their ears and hear with their eyes because posture affects tone.  He says that beginning violinists must strive for even sound, even tone throughout the entire bow stroke and that the tone should be DEEP.

According to Charles, in Book 1, review means you do all of the pieces and their preview spots at home every day.  He stressed that in Book 1, students should play all Twinkle Variations every day and that every piece must be reviewed in the context of skill development.  He says that students who do this are different players.

Charles feels that having a sense of timing for progress is fundamental in teaching.  Knowing when to stay on something until it develops and when to move on is a special skill for teachers that can develop with time.

Charles showed many video examples of his early Book 1 students playing with excellent posture, violin holds, bow holds, and clear sound.  He claims that one secret to success is the use of practice videos and practice CDs such as Step-by-Step.  At the end of every lesson, Charles has the parent video tape him giving a short summary of the most important parts of the lesson, a reminder of all the assignments, and playing examples of the preview spots he has assigned. He says that he used to have parents video tape every lesson, but quickly realized that no one was watching them. He asks parents and students to watch the practice video once every day before practicing.


During home practice, Charles advocates the use of practice CDs. Practice CDs guide the home practice, make practice longer, and provide structure while letting the parents off the hook just a little bit. He gave many examples of how he uses the Pre-Twinkle recordings in Step-by-Step 1A to teach Pre-Twinkle concepts including clapping, chanting, singing, and bowing on the “magic violin.”  He says that his students review their pieces with the Step-by-Step CD at home every day and that it ends arguments between children and their parents about how fast something should be played. He says that a piece develops from playing the fundamental exercises, to being able to play by phrase, to playing through a piece slowly and in the student’s own tempo, to progressing through the three tempi approach used in Step-by-Step.  He believes that this process provides a clear standard and makes practice more musical and enjoyable.

SHEET MUSIC: First Pre-Twinkle Songs

Audio Files (MP3): First Pre-Twinkle Songs

Daina Volodka, Chicago
Real Review: Mastery of violin technique
through listening and review



According to Daina, if a student and parent do not know why they are reviewing, then they will not do it at home.  She feels that it is essential to raise the value of review by making it purposeful and relevant.  Daina shared that Alice Joy Lewis, an esteemed Suzuki pedagogue in the United States, cautions us as teachers to know that what we are not hearing in lessons is not being played at home. Her motto is, “inspect what you expect,” and by this she means that whatever we want the student to do at home, we need to stay current with in lessons. To take this a step further, Daina believes the student and parent must know what the expectation is and WHY she inspecting it. In this session, Daina shared games, strategies, and practice charts that she uses in developing a student’s review. One particular way Daina makes review relevant is the 15 WIN GAME.  In this game it is important that everyone understands what makes up a “win”.  In the  game there is “the stage”, “the backstage”, and “the audience.” When a child is playing, they must be “on the stage” and in charge, rather than the parent or teacher micromanaging the playing.

Daina reminded us that Dr. Suzuki said, “raise your ability with a piece you can play.” For Daina, review is an extraordinary opportunity to bring a previously learned piece to a higher level of development.  Daina shared with the participants her layering approach, and her system of grading review pieces to help students elevate the material to higher and higher levels.  Daina believes that review can powerfully impact the technique of every student, and can help to unlock the freedom to play with expression and high musical ability.

2. REAL REVIEW: Sample recital review lists
3. REAL REVIEW: Review by Student Level
Kerstin Wartberg (Deutsches Suzuki Institut)
Working on sound quality from the very beginning

Kerstin began her presentation by reminding teachers that working on a student’s tone was always a priority for Dr. Suzuki. According to Kerstin, many children’s lessons started with a brief exercise led by Dr. Suzuki. She explained a process that she observed many times:

2_SUZUKIDr. Suzuki played a rhythm on an open string and the student had to repeat what Dr. Suzuki played. Sometimes Dr. Suzuki would repeat the same rhythm, and sometimes he would move to a different tone with a different rhythm. I saw him working this way with many students, always for a period of about 2 or 3 minutes until he seemed satisfied.
I asked myself what exactly it was that he wanted to teach with this short imitation game. The game appeared to involve many components: listening to pitch and rhythm, imitation of bow speed and bow length, but this was not his main point.
It was the quality of sound.
For Book 1 students, Dr. Suzuki emphasized an understanding for the depth of tone. Once, at a workshop in Denmark, he asked us to buy 20 bananas —one banana for each child in the Book 1 group class. The bananas were clever reminders that the children should understand that a good sound is never like a straight line, but like a little curve… or like a little banana.

Kerstin led the teachers in Remscheid in several similar games for Book 1 children.

Here are some examples:
The teachers closed their eyes and listened to the sounds Kerstin was playing using Twinkle rhythms on open strings. Was the sound flat, (like a plain? shallow? as a pancake?) or deep (with depth? curved like a banana?)? It was very easy to hear and to understand the differences. Then some teachers had to play and the group had to guess again. Now it was not so easy as it seemed before. The results were not always easy to differentiate.

The aim of this tone exercise was to get a clear feeling for the flexibility of the bow hair and the stick in connection with the natural weight of the arm. When this relationship is nicely developed the result is a beautiful tone with clear ringing sound – Kerstin called it the “bell tone.” Developing a beautiful bell tone is one important goal in Book 1. It is the preparation for the Casals tone exercise in Book 2, when the children need to shape three tone waves in the Beethoven Minuet.

Another interesting example of how to focus on tone quality with children was the STEP GAME. It is useful for private lessons or small group lessons with only a few children. The teacher plays, for example, a Twinkle rhythm on an open string with an excellent posture and the student standing at the other side of the room has to repeat it. If the child can play the rhythm with a good posture they are allowed to make a step forward toward the teacher. Then the teacher plays the rhythm again and asks the student to listen for very clear stopped bows on the eighth notes. If the child could stop well between the eighth notes, then they can take another step forward. But if the child did not play it very well, then they are not allowed to make a step forward. If the teacher wants to make this point VERY clear, then the child even has to make a step backwards. Within the framework of this simple game, the teacher has freedom to work on many topics, such as: playing only on one string (not accidentally touching the neighboring string), resonance between the eighth notes, a clear start to the tone without being squashed with uncessary pressure, more depth to the sound, a straight bow, or keeping the bow on the right sound point (bow lane) etc. If the child plays very well then he or she can make a very large step. The game is over once the student arrives at the other end of the room.
There were several other games focused on how to concentrate on sound and how to improve a student’s tone production. Always the main point of the game was to focus the student’ listening, and to increase the awareness of the three parts of every note that both the child and their parents must listen for:

No. 1 a clear start of the tone
No. 2 a deep, ringing sound
No. 3 a clear tone ending with resonance

The report is now finished!
Thank you for reading my account of the 5th Suzuki Teachers’ Exchange Conference in Germany. We all hope to see you next year! Stay connected here at the Suzuki Teaching Ideas – EXCHANGE and watch for upcoming articles by presenters and participants of this year’s Conference, or write one of your own!


Many thanks to Monika and Jürgen Pieck
for their perfect organisation!


We hope to meet you at the next
Suzuki Teachers’ Convention in November 2014!

Kerstin, Barth, Quiroz


31 October – 3 November 2014

Sixth Suzuki Teachers’
Xchange Weekend in GERMANY


In response to the great demand
by many course participants we asked
Simon Fischer
to come also to our next conference in 2014.
And YES! He agreed to come!

Excerpt of the film “LET US WORK TOGETHER!”


Heidi L. Curatolo
Director of the Suzuki Violin and Piano Institute of Aspen, USA

Music Performance from Brooklyn College
City University of New York 1998
Masters in Education and Mathematics Brooklyn College, 2001
Aspen Music Festival and School alumni

Read what the newspaper ASPEN TIMES reports about Heidi’s Suzuki Institute.

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Carolyn McCall: “Music and Movement”

Prepare For Instrument
Study With “Music and Movement” Experiences

Setting the Stage
“Music and Movement” classes of many types provide opportunities for parents and young children to start on a path toward successful instrumental study. The process reminds me of the adage, “In order to have wings, we first must have roots.”

“Music and Movement” classes are all about roots. Singing, movement, pitch awareness, and concentration and coordination exercises help prepare class participants for instrument-specific lessons. Some children absorb these skills from existing musical environments; other families need guidance to begin creating those fruitful environments. All benefit from a head start on these skills before instrument-specific lessons begin.

Some of the abilities developed through music instruction are:

  • Listening
  • Observing
  • Imitating
  • Memorizing
  • Concentrating
  • Performing
  • Discipline
  • Perseverance
  • Sensitivity to feelings and emotions

I developed what I do in “Music and Movement” classes by working backwards from my early violin group classes. I look for ways to replicate common instrumental group activities with simple vocal songs and body movements.
I choose songs and activities that are simple and/or common so that families can remember and reproduce them at home. My classes are designed to be an early, less-formal experience of the types of structure necessary in successful instrumental lessons. I choose activities that appeal to the variety of ages and experiences found among family members. My activities are never instrument-specific, involve minimal special equipment, and involve no written notation. Though I gear the classes for children ages 4-6, younger and older ones often participate.

A key area of my classes is parental participation. In my home program, this class is part of the orientation time necessary before formal lessons begin. Anyone is welcome to participate in “Music and Movement” class, whether or not they plan to join my violin program later. The class is scheduled just prior to the beginners’ violin group class so that prospective families can stay and watch them. “Music and Movement” gives parents and children a chance to DO something constructive and musical together during the weeks when the parent is reading weekly handouts and the family begins listening to classical recordings if they were not doing so already. The class gives parents a chance to see if they are ready for the big commitments of instrumental study:

  • Attending class regularly
  • Arriving on time, ready to learn
  • Following my directions

I have a chance to set the stage of measuring progress in things OTHER than melodies learned. Parents see right away that class members participate on different levels; some are previewing while others are reviewing. Some children need to watch rather than participate at first. Often they later sing class songs at home or in the car. All of the children are learning to watch and listen to the teacher because their parents are modeling it. The parents’ interest, enthusiasm, and enjoyment are contagious to their children.
An old proverb is, “Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I will understand.”

“Music and Movement” helps parents with limited musical experience feel more comfortable about taking on the challenge of helping their children learn about music. It is easier to follow the singing and movements of a group than to try out these new activities alone. This class also provides me with a glimpse of family dynamics. If the family later joins my violin program, I have gained some insight into how best I may help them learn.

Class Routine
It is important to have a trained musician teach “Music and Movement” classes, because such a person has the best chance of creating a successful “can’t fail” environment. It takes skill and experience to lead a group using simple, clear instructions and relaxed, communicative body movements. To become good followers, class members need a solid leader; eventually they in turn may learn to lead also. The teacher must model basically good singing skills for the class.

In class, the teacher sets the tempo and pitch before the song begins, using a variety of Ways such as singing the instructions in tempo on the starting pitch. The teacher maintains the tempo as well as consistent musical pitch. Using instrumental accompaniment in class may be fine, but will the home situation reinforce that? What is in our minds and bodies is usable anytime, not only when a live or recorded musician is heard at the same time.

The teacher must recognize what the class needs to have reinforced and guide the class’ achievements. Lesson plans are only the beginning – the teacher assesses if they all understand and are able to do the goal to the best of their current abilities. A creative teacher reinforces in aural, visual, and kinesthetic ways.

The main equipment the class uses is their minds and bodies. I may bring a few things to class, including:

  • tuning fork (for a consistent A-440 “A”)
  • violin (a bowed note shows rhythm duration better than a drum)
  • metronome (with an arm- shows rhythm duration visually)
  • paper tissues
  • paper plates’
  • beachball

The ways I use these items are detailed in my handout for teachers, included later in this article.

A highly-important thing about “Music and Movement” class is the atmosphere. A teacher needs JOY, not PATIENCE. (Patience may include a suffering endurance quality.) My class is positive and interested – I keep the participants busy DOING things with minimal instructions or explanations. Sometimes I must make general statements about parents not giving their children hints and reminders during class; each child’s attention needs to be focused on the teacher, and parents show respect for the teacher by letting the teacher teach. Sometimes teachers choose not to comment directly on everything….

I try to create an environment with cooperation instead of competition.
John Holt wrote,
“A competitive child is happy when he wins.
A cooperative child is happy when he does his very best.”

Parents and children show various degrees of competence; I do not comment on anyone’s competence, especially whether or not they match pitch when they sing. In my experience, negative comments about pitch matching set up mental blocks to learning that skill. During 5-day institutes, many young class participants ding imaginary tuning forks and sing an in-tune “A” to me when they see me elsewhere on campus; their non-musical parents often don’t realize that this can be considered extraordinary.

Class Activities
Some of the written resources I have benefited most from include:

Wee Sing series by Beall and Nipp (includes booklets and recordings)
Complete Handbook of Music Games and Activities for Early Childhood by Athey and Hotchkiss Help Your Child to Grow With Lullabies, Action Songs, Rhymes by Dorothy Jones; this comes with a top-quality recording

My class routine is structured and orderly, which appeals to young children. There are three main sections to the class time:

  • sitting on the floor in a circle, children next to their own parents
  • moving around the room
  • sitting again

I open and close the class with establishing a physical beat (clapping, tapping, etc.) and chanting each child’s name in turn. The whole class repeats the name in rhythm after me. I bring out my “A-440” tuning fork, ding it, and sing “Everybody sing A with me —- A!”

Then to the pitches A-F# I sing “Hello/Good-bye, [child’s name]” in turn to each child in the circle; the whole class sings the name after me. When the class is ending, each child stands as we sing goodbye to him/her. When all are standing, we take a final bow and class is over.

Our bow is how I tell the class, “Thank you for coming” and how they tell me, “Thank you for teaching me.” In addition to labeling the note A-440 as “A” in class, I label the D a fifth below it as “D”. I first reinforce “A” with my tuning fork and have the class follow me singing “5-4-3-2-1” [A-G-F#-E-D]. Then I sing on D, “I is named ‘D’.” I then start a song on that D. If we sing in the children’s easy vocal range (middle C to the C above it), they are more likely to sing in tune. I tell the class that just as we consistently label visual colors, we also can label consistent sounds. A common Fisher-Price or Little Tykes toy xylophone can provide reasonable starting pitches at home (the biggest, lowest bar is C), and so my handout for parents lists our class songs and their starting pitches. (Musicians know that the starting pitch and the key of the song are not always the same.)

I build the class’ ability to audiate songs. (Music educator Edwin Gordon coined the term “audiate” to mean imagining music.) We think the songs in our heads but do not sing aloud. Choosing songs that have actions with them makes this easier; we all can do the actions to keep track of what we are audiating.

Teacher Handout
The next part of this publication is my Teacher Handout, which lists a variety of activities for a teacher to put together into class plans.

Parent Handout
The final section of this publication is my Parent Handout, which I give to class participants.


Music & Movement with Carolyn McCall

Favorite Sones (with good starting pitches)
My Four Voices (Athey & Hotchkiss)
Speak/shout/whisper/sing [though any order works!]
Hand on chest = leader’s turn / hand outstretched = class’ turn

Twinkle (starting on D)
Move hands in air- floor for lowest pitch, higher for higher pitches [“audiate”= imagine]
Replace lyrics for lowest note with “D”
Lower notes = softer, higher notes = louder
Bread/Peanut.Butter/ Peanut Butter/ Bread sections [ABBA]

Row. Row. Row Your Boat (D)
Pound, Pound, Pound One Fist (2 fists, 1 foot, 2 feet: more = louder)
Brush, Brush, Brush Your Teeth

Now Tall. Now Small (D) (Wee Sing)
Hands in air [eventually audiate]
Lower notes = softer / higher notes = louder
Use whole bodies

Are You Sleeping (D)
Different languages, “Where is Thumbkin”, & “Walking, Walking” lyrics (Wee Sing)
“Walking, Walking” with walking fingers on selves or use whole bodies
Replace “Brother John” with class’ names in turn [sleep- wake on “morning bells”]
Harmonizes with Three Blind Mice (start “Three” on F#)

Down By The Bay (D) (Wee Sing Silly Songs)
Hand on chest = leader’s turn, hand outstretched = class’ turn
Invent funny endings [do not have to rhyme!]

John Brown’s Baby (D) (Wee Sing Silly Songs)
Replace words with actions only – baby, cold, chest, rubbed, camphorated oil
Last time – audiate only
[Battle Hymn of the Republic tune]

I Like To Eat (F) from Cub Scout book
“I like to eat apples and bananas”
A-E-I-O-U sounds

Five Little Monkeys
Chant and actions – with metronome

Wheels on the Bus (D)
Wheels, money, wipers, doors, driver, people, baby, parents, etc. – actions

Five Little Ducks (G)
Fingers hands, actions

Old MacDonald Had A Farm (G)
Each chooses an animal to sing about
(Harder-keep a chain of animal names, always adding the new one. Use only the sound of the new animal in the verse.)

Three Blue Pigeons (E) from Wee Sing
Set up 3 chairs for the 3 “blue pigeons” to use in turn

Pick It Up (D) by Woody Guthrie, from Very Favorites of the Very Young (Henry)
Each chooses something to pretend to pick up as all sing the song

Ten In the Bed (C)
Use metronome – make each verse one notch faster/slower

Head, Shoulders. Knees, and Toes (G)
Good with different tempi

Stand Up and Move Around
Teddv Bear (A)
from Wee Sing
Actions match lyrics –
(“turn around, touch ground, show shoe, that will do / upstairs, prayers, light, goodnight”)
Forwards and backwards
Different speeds- leader counts

“Clap, clap, clap, and tap, tap, tap, and turn around and stamp, stamp, stamp!”
Different speeds- leader counts “1-2-ready-GO!”

Swing Hands in a Circle
Class gets swinging FIRST, then teacher starts playing
Swing to the teacher’s beat- teacher gradually changes tempo
(Drop hands and step the beat)
(Class swings to consistent beat but teacher plays notes 2x fast or 2x slow)

Walk [Four] Steps
Walk [four] steps in any direction, then change right away to a new direction
Teacher plays pitches in walking rhythm: new pitch for new direction
(Clap when take first step in new direction)
(Class could just walk in place)

Scarves (or Paper Tissues)
To smooth (legato) or choppy (staccato) sounds the teacher plays
Ball up and throw in air- teacher follows scarf’s motion with instrumental line
Throw in air- student follows scarf’s motion with sung line

Move the Speed the Instrument Says
Children may hold hands with their parents
Teacher plays rhythms [on different violin strings]
When teacher stops, class stops
[run / walk/ “step-hold”/ “hold that long note”: run is fastest/ walk is twice as slow/ etc.]
Only at first – have higher pitch be faster rhythm
Musical turn = class turns around and goes the other way [B-C-B-A-B] (different tempi)
High and higher pitch = class jumps [f#-g]
[2 separate circles – each reactions to particular rhythm(s)]

Paper Plates
Put one under each foot- walk to teacher’s legato or staccato [or pizzicato] sounds
When teacher stops, class stops (class’ swishy sounds stop)

Legato/Staccato Circle
Class holds hands when teacher plays legato, drops hands when teacher plays staccato

Move in the Direction of the Dynamic the Instrument Says
One end of room is for “soft”, other for “loud”- class moves according to dynamics of constant pulse teacher plays

Class walks to teacher’s steady soft beat – JUMPS on sudden accented beat
Teacher might set up consistent patterns or might not

Reaction to Tempo
Teacher plays 4 beats- class jumps on the 4th
(change tempo the next time)

Walk Around the Room During a Song
Class walks around while teacher plays; students return to starting places by the end

Song Sections OR Dynamics in a Circle
Class walks in a circle – turns and goes in other direction at each new section/dynamic

High/Low Pitches
Teacher plays 2 very different pitches. Class claps for high, stamps for low pitches.

One end of room is “high”, other is “low” – class walks in proper direction while teacher plays notes/song that go higher/lower.
Repeated note = step in place Make it easier – do glissandi, accent and change bow in new note direction

Echo Rhythm
Teacher plays rhythm- class echoes with feet [possibly with different dynamics]
(Teacher gives 4 pulses with a rest on the 4th pulse while teacher says “go”)

More Sitting Activities
Instrument Demonstrations
tenor, alto, soprano, and sopranino recorders (smaller recorders make higher sounds)
ocarinas / slide whistle
xylophone (Little Tykes or Fisher-Price: biggest bar is C)
boomwhackers (tuned percussion tubes)

High and Low
Teacher plays melodic line [glissando] – class claps when line changes direction (or class moves hands up/down in air while teacher plays)

The most-important pitch of a piece is called the “tonic”. The “tonic team” hums this note while the “tune team” sings or hums a song. (For example, the tonic team hums D while the tune team sings or hums Twinkle starting on D.)

Basic Rhythmic Movements
Clap, snap, pat (pat different body parts for variety)
Teacher does movements while class simultaneously copies

Echo the teacher’s rhythm
(Teacher gives 4 pulses with a rest on the 4th pulse while teacher says “go”)

Ostinato – repeated pattern (some clap/snap/pat an ostinato while others sing a song)
Possible word ostinati – some chant “cold” [peas], add others with “cloudy” [carrots], add others with “raining raining” [rutabaga] (whole, half, and quarter notes)
Pick an important word that goes with a particular song, and chanters repeat that word in rhythm while others sing the song [i.e. chant “star” while Twinkle is sung]

A steady beat is like a steady heartbeat- the song may move faster or slower around it

Respond to the teacher’s pulse: teacher does 4 consistent beats/class echoes. Then teacher chooses a new pulse

Teacher plays piece? in different meters- class feels
In 3: Pat (while swing to one side) clap clap
In 4: Pat clap clap clap
Class claps twice as quickly (or slowly) as the teacher (or a metronome)

Leader holds hands wide apart = class sing loudly
Leader hold hands close together = class sings softly

Divide into 2 groups – leader points at the group that should sing (switch during the song)
(Groups could sing the real lyrics or replace them all with “ho” or “hay” for groups)

Leader points to mouth = class sings out loud
Leader points to ear = class hears song, continuing in the heads only

Keeping A Pulse in Turn
Each person in the circle claps in turn, trying to keep the pulse steady
(helps to use a. follow-through movement to the next person)
(metronome may help) (helps if teacher says “clap-and-clap-and-“)
(Teacher might start alone; others, join as teacher calls out their names)

Class passes a (beach)ball from person to person, trying to keep the pulse steady
(Teacher claps or chants or plays instrument – 2 alternating notes helps)
(If teacher stops, person with ball holds it over his/her head)
(If teacher plays low note, class reverses passing direction)

Music and Movement with Carolyn McCall

This is a general music class geared to children aged approx. 4-6 and their parents. These activities help prepare everyone for instrument-specific group lessons.

Class Routine
Children sit by their parents in a circle on the floor
Class opens and closes with class chanting/singing names after teacher in rhythm
Teacher has “A-440” tuning fork and labels A and D pitches (important- consistency!)
We sing a lot of songs that start on D- easy vocal range, more likely to be in tune
We stand up and move around for awhile in the middle of the class
We might have an instrument demonstration (recorders, ocarinas, xylophone, etc.)

Favorite Songs (with good starting pitches)

  • My Four Voices (speak, shout, whisper, sing)
  • I Like To Eat (F) Twinkle (D) 5
  • Little Monkeys (with metronome)
  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat (D)
  • Wheels on the Bus (D)
  • Now Tall, Now Small (D)
  • 5 Little Ducks (D)
  • Are You Sleeping (Walking, Walking) (D)
  • 3 Blue Pigeons (E)
  • Down By the Bay (D)
  • Pick It Up (D)
  • John Brown’s Baby (D)
  • 10 In the Bed (C)

Stand Up and Move Around
Teddy Bear (A)- turn, touch, shoe, will do/ upstairs, prayers, light, goodnight
“Dance” (clap, tap, turn around, stamp)
Circle Shows Form of Song – walk; go other way at new song section
Circle Swing Hands to the Beat
Walk [Four] Steps – in any direction, then change to a new direction [clap on 1st step]
Walk Around During the Song – return to starting place by the end
Move the Speed the Instrument Says – run, walk, step-hold, hold-that-long-note, turn, jump
Paper Tissues – to legato/staccato sounds // throw in air, follow motion with singing
Paper Plates – under each foot, walk to legato/staccato sounds
Legato/Staccato Circle – hold hands during legato sounds, drop hands during staccato
Accents – walk to teacher’s steady soft beat, JUMP on sudden accented beat
Reaction to Tempo – Teacher plays 4 beats: jump on 4th beat // echo all 4 beats
Loud/Soft – Class moves closer when teacher plays loudly, further when softly
High/Low – stamp for low, clap for high // move toward “high”/”low” places in room
Echo Rhythm – teacher plays rhythm, class echoes with feet More

Sitting Activities
High/Low – Class follows notes with hands in air // claps when line changes direction
Tonic – “tonic team” hums most-important pitch of song while “tune team” sings song
Canon – Class follows teacher’s action 4 beats later [ie. clap 4x, tap 4x while class claps]
Basic Rhythmic Movements – clap, snap, pat: echo rhythms//do ostinato (repeated pattern)
Feel Rhythmic Differences – clap twice as quickly or slowly as the teacher claps
Basic Meters – feel different meters while teacher plays [in 3 = tap clap clap]
Dynamics – hands apart = loud // hands together = soft
Giving Directions – leader points at group that should sing in turn (randomly)
“Audiate” – “hear the song in your head” (point to ear) [point to mouth = sing out loud]
Keeping A Pulse in Turn – each in circle claps OR passes a beachball in steady rhythm

Copyrigth 2005, Carolyn McCall


546896_417828108327292_1040642280_nCarolyn McCall was a Suzuki violin student in John Kendall’s program at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) beginning in 1966. She earned music degrees from the University of Illinois and SIUE, where she did her Suzuki teacher training with Kendall. She was a Suzuki parent to her children and lived and taught violin, viola, and music & movement in Austria, Wisconsin, and Illinois. She published many articles and the book “Group Lessons for Suzuki Violin and Viola” and was an internationally active Suzuki clinician and conference organizer until 2011.
She closed her studio because of hand problems and her need for employer-provided health insurance. She now works in Admissions at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and performs music regularly in nursing homes.


Carolyn McCall
Group Lessons for Suzuki Violin and Viola
Alfred Music Publishing

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M. Hoover: Pre-Twinkle Exercises without Instrument

Dear Colleagues,

In the following I would like to give you some ideas of Pre-Twinkle exercises without instrument.

I am currently completing a teacher training course for level 1 of “Children’s Musical Garden”. This comprehensive program has been developed by Elena Enrico in conjunction with the Italian Suzuki Institute.
Since it is intended for children who are not yet playing an instrument, it is full of exactly those activities that are extremly helpful for young children and their parents as they prepare for future study.

Please have a look at the first six minutes of this film. You will see many short examples of the pre-school program. You find exercises for

  • fine motor skills directed towards instrumental playing
  • coordination
  • discipline
  • development of the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic ears
  • vocal expression
  • memorisation and orientation

The Role of the Parents
Elena Enrico describes it: “The course, in which the parents participate in a “semi-direct” way, is collective and carries out a project of “preliminary education”. 
Let me explain; to begin with I define “semi-direct” as being the participation of the parents,  as it occurs, in various moments during the lesson which goes from observation (and consequent understanding of the techniques) to direct participation (with the children) and actual practicing of the first daily teaching sessions with one‘s own child.” 

Concrete aims 
– familiarization with the pieces that make up the instrument repertoire;

– use of spacial and motor functions with relation to music;
– internalization of phrasing, timing and dynamics;  
– the developement of fine motor skills used on specific instruments;
– the developement of intonation, vocalization and expression;
– increasing the memory;                                                  
– internalization of a specific disciplinary habit;
– practicing the educational-disciplinary relationship with one’s own parent;
– making music with others and therefore using, together with the other children and adults who participate in the lesson, this newly acquired language, this new ability.

The six most important elements  
– rhythmic stimuli (that will then be applied to other elements)      

– melodic stimuli and consequent learning of the songs in the repertoire      
– manuality both free-hand and with the use of small preparation instruments     
– equilibrium and self-control (use of the body)     
– developement of the memory
– autonomy and self-confidence     

In September 2013, Elena Enrico & Marco Messina will write an article including many concrete details especially for our blog.



MICHAEL HOOVER was introduced to the Suzuki Method in 1964 at the age of 5 in Oregon, USA. He studied music at Oregon State University, the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg, Germany, and Michigan State University. After medical studies, his medical career took him back to Germany where he returned to music and discovered his love for teaching.
Since 2012 he is an ESA Suzuki Violin Teacher Trainer. Convinced that “every child has been born with high potentialities (S. Suzuki),” he is constantly searching for better ways to help children develop their true potential.

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