How barnyard animals helped our practice

Yes, cows, sheep, chickens, pigs and cats all helped our practice.

Well, at least their sounds did.

The full story goes like this: Like many children, ViolinGirl doesn’t like to be interrupted. Since she’s not a tactile learner1, having me reach over to fix things like bow hold and left hand position are frustrating for her. Similarly, completely stopping the piece to remind her to fix something turns out to be inefficient because sometimes it’s hard to get going again. Here’s where the animal sounds come in.

She and I decided on a repertoire of animal sounds that represent different things to work on. For example, a pig 🐖 sound means “check that your left thumb is relaxed.” A cow 🐄 mooing means “check that you are landing your fingers on the inside corners.” A cat 🐱 meowing means to check her bow hold, and so on.

All of this is much less intrusive than using words or trying to manipulate her hands directly. And it’s good for a laugh!2

What have you done for fun in practice that’s also helped improve technique? Comment on our Facebook page

  1. Special thanks to Ms. Jennifer Burton, master Suzuki violin teacher at the Aber Suzuki Center for raising our awareness of learning styles in children. Our daughter is definitely not a kinesthetic learner. She’s probably about 23 auditory and 13 visual. Thinking about learning styles and preferences has been enormously helpful in adapting our practice techniques and in understanding where things can go astray. [return]
  2. More than just being amusing, it taps into a love of animals that my daughter has. Anything that features animals in some way readily gains her interest. [return]
Written by:

Alan is the main practice partner and accompanist for a young violinist.