Practice Activities for Young Children



  • Bow-down "1,2,3", up- "smile!"
  • Foot chart anchors the body.  In playing position weight of the body should be on both feet with feet planted firmly.  Sway like a tree in the wind to Twinkle...but keep knees unlocked and flexible.
  • I. D. violin hand and bow hand
  • Find "violin spot" or magic spot on jaw bone between chin and ear
  • Find "shelf" on the shoulder (violin must be on top of the shoulder)
  • Practice turning head to the left-quickly
  • Find parts of the violin and bow
  • Sing “What is this? This is the ____.  Or Where is the_____? Here is the_______.
  • Violin parts:  Strings, bridge, tail piece, chin rest, f holes, fingerboard, pegs, peg box, scroll, nut, neck, shoulders, back, belly, end button, fine tuners, purfling, ribs
  • Bow part: stick, tip, hair, frog, adjusting screw
  • Identify names of the strings G Lowest on violin , then D, A, and E highest on violin
  • Sing GGG going up to DDD, going up to AAA etc.
  • Rhythm Variations:  There are many ways to internalize these:
    1. Clap-hands to sides in rests in Twinkler variation B
    2. Tap-right hand on left knee
    3. Play drum
    4. Soap arm
    5. Paint
    6. With Bow on shoulder -shake hands-especially good for learning direction of bow, always begin down bow.
  • Discuss dynamics (loud & soft) and tempo (speed), clap rhythms using these concepts.
  • Discuss high and low sounds using the high and low strings.  Student can close their eyes
  • Twinkle Dance
  • Guess names of strings -encourages listening for the different pitches


  • Discuss how fragile violin and bow are; they must be treated gently!
  • Keep a rag in the case and clean strings, fingerboard and area underneath strings and fingerboard on top of the violin (every time) before putting it away.
  • Also clean bow stick.
  • Have a place for the sponge/shoulder rest.
  • Practice putting in and taking out of case carefully.
  • Never touch the bow hair with your fingers.
  • Never drop violin or bow or use either as a cane, bat, sword, etc.
  • To rosin bow hair, hold rosin in the palm of your left hand and bow in the right hand.  Rosin to the rhythm of the first variation, singing: Rosin in the left hand.
  • Tighten bow screw by holding bow in right hand, turn screw with left hand - counterclockwise to tighten, clockwise to loosen.  Say:  Tighten the bow when it's time to lay, loosen the bow when you put it away.


  • Up and Down Game:  helps to develop sense of direction. Move bow hand up-down-up up-up-down and down- down-down.  Play it as in follow the leader.
  • ID all the bow hand fingers, guide finder, hugger fingers, Mr. Round Pinky and Mr. Strong bent thumb
  • Bump "important places" (on thumb) (thumbs bow to each other)
  • Make a "bunny face" thumb nail against inside tips of huggers (up to first joints) and should be able to see through bunny
  • Child places bow hand on your arm-makes "lower teeth" or bent thumb "takes bite" using upward pressure of thumb.  Be sure thumb stays on skin
  • Child forms bow hold on your finger.  Make sure that there is a small space between all fingers, huggers over at 1st joint, guide finger just past 1st joint, pinky on top, on tip of finger and bent thumb, nail "into skin.
  • Pantomime bowings holding pretend violin using quick motions-feet in playing position.


  • Hold box with "scroll" level with nose.  "Violin spot" should be on "chin rest".  Check for straight neck and back -no leaning or strain from turning too far.


  • Hold for count of 5, 10 15, etc.
  • Hold pizza plate on head (imaginary hat)
  • Fly like a bird
  • Squat down
  • Stand on one foot
  • Turn around in a circle
  • Hold for whole variation, then all variations
  • STOP IMMEDIATELY when child tires or position slips.  "Shake out" and repeat

PLACING VIOLIN:  Do after much repetition of endurance games.

  • Rest, zip, playing position
  • Turn chin, put right hand on box
  • Extend violin over left foot
  • Rotate wrist to turn box upside down.
  • Place box on shoulder.  Make sure shoulder seam is covered and violin spot is on chinrest.
  • Drop arm (or grasp right shoulder)


  • Violin Position-for left arm
  • Turn head, hold arm to side
  • Smiley, looks at nose, not frowny
  • Keep a tickle space
  • Touch pinky to nose then move away
  • Running fingers, wave at mom
  • Finger Pops
  • Strong pop against thumb, hold.
  • Listen to pop next to ear
  • Purpose:  to strengthen fingers and develop finger dexterity, quickness
  • Call out 1-3-2-4-2-1-3 etc.
  • Put down pick up violin, put in rest position
  • Movement should be gentle and quiet
  • Also Practice putting violin from playing to rest position
  • Twinkle Form is A B A (a.k.a, Bread/Peanut Butter & Jelly/Bread


  • hold violin case above head
  • carry in parade
  • hold for Twinkle variation
  • purpose: develop strength and endurance 


Bow hand placement on bow:

Thumb:  Bent, covers half of silver part, contact point on inner corner of thumb nail, at angle to bow, touch hair slightly, Keep strong-take bite out of stick.

Huggers: Place opposite thumb, hug in deep grip, over at first joint.  One hugger over frog.

Pinky: round, tip on top (no Humpty Dumpty)

Guide Finger: Rest gently between first and second join.  Must not push or exert any pressure.

NOTE: Wrist should not twist or stick up. Knuckles should stay flat.

Bow games

can be played like copy-cat, check often for a good bow hold, practice for quick response, keep eyes on the tip of the bow

  • Hang like a monkey
  • Take to door and bring back perfect
  • Rocket position
  • Up and down like a rocket
  • Horizontally - "elevator" - don't let person fall off
  • Windshield wipers
  • Stir a cake (draw circle on pointing at ceiling)
  • Draw circle around head
  • Through fingers or "ring of fire"
  • Tap each finger 5 times (in rocket position)
  • Race for bow on the floor (How quickly can you get ready?)

Bow on Shoulder

  • Twinkle Rhythm Variations
  • Square of arm
  • Opening and closing door
  • Up and down bows
  • Lift and set
  • Rocking horse
  • E and A string posture (elbow always slightly lower than hand, hand leads up to A and elbow leads down to E)

Bow placement

  • Place bow on A-make square
  • Lift and set on violin
  • Rock to E string posture
  • Keep bow on highway
  • Check for strong thumb-make bow "bounce"
  • Silent arpeggio
  • Keep flat hair


  • Star on finger -find spot on violin
  • Find spot and drop arm -many repetitions
  • Thumb straight, between nut and #1 tape
  • Tunnel -space under neck
  • Keep fingers in umbrella (curved over strings)
  • Open fan-spread child's fingers apart
  • Put wiggle eyes on #4 finger-needs to witch what's going on" (looks at strings)
  • Don't lean against scroll-leave small space
  • Keep a straight wrist -can animal slide down the slide?
  • Teacher or parent plays first variation and the student answers (on E string) Check elbow lower than hand and heavy arm, no chicken wings, repeat back and forth many times
  • Rock to A and repeat process.  Do with all variations
  • Always practice making quick snappy string changes before making sound on various strings
  • See how many child can play in a row perfectly.


  • Place Mr. 1 in his "house".  Drop arm. Repeat many repetitions.  Be sure scroll stays level to nose.  Finger should stay on 'tip toe', have shelf. Do not let weight of hand pull violin out of position.
  • Mr. 2 and Mr. 3 follow same steps
  • Pick up fingers in order, individually, Pick up fingers in irregular order.
  • Mother plucks string as child puts fingers down.  Listen for ring and echo.
  • Play "pizzicato duets" -parent plucks, child fingers reverse roles.
  • Do similar duets with fingers and bow.  When each variation is developed on both sides, put violin and bow together.


  • Do activities many times in a row.
  • Work for quick response
  • Have child keep eyes on what he's doing.
  • Work for longer concentration span
  • Vary activities to keep interest up
  • Do activities with eyes closed
  • Stop for inspection
  • Play copy-cat, Simon Says, follow the leader.
  • Many repetitions from day to today

Listen Daily!

  • Keep your interest up -show you care.
  • Lots of applause, reward good practice
  • Each step is important-each must be done well with success at each step
  • Do one thing at a time
  • Keep a star chart for good practice
  • Have a treat jar (fun things to reward good practice)
  • Keep a jar of practice suggestion of review activities.
  • Have recital for Dad, relative, friends
  • Take child to group and other lessons
  • Take child to concerts and recitals
  • Don't ask too much
  • Be consistent, practice every day, even if only for a few minutes
  • Keep positive.
  • Be Patient!

Suggestions by Therese Fetter

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