(Posted by a Guest Blogger, Ken Walsh) Playing a musical instrument presents a wide variety of benefits for any child. The violin affects aspects of the development of the child that other instruments don’t.
Stringed instruments have great sounds that are pleasing to the ears, and learning to play good music on one of them excites children all around the world. Consider these benefits of playing the musical instrument with strings.
- Cognitive Functioning
Significant research has determined that playing a musical instrument increases cognitive functioning in all people, but especially children. Learning to play music is like learning another language: you must learn how to read the notes, play them in a specific sequence, and play them in ways that mesh with the rest of the music around you. The brain is nurtured and strengthened when children play musical instruments, and music students often excel in every area of their academic priorities.
- Social Activity
Students who participate in bands form tight social groups much like children who participate in sports do. Children who share intellectually-stimulating activities such as music as a hobby become great friends, and they grow together through the playing of their songs. When students work together on music, they feel a sense of companionship and camaraderie that makes them feel like they belong to something special. Friends made through band activities tend to last long into adult life, and they like to keep in touch with each other.
- Sense of Accomplishment
Learning to play difficult pieces of music on the violin gives children goals to look forward. Learning to be goal-oriented at a young age is important to success later in life. People who set goals almost always succeed more than those who don’t. Playing music helps children see their goals and accomplish them, and they have a lot of fun while doing so.
* Playing Tips of Violin For Kids by Ken Walsh *
Although the violin requires a great amount of patience, commitment and determination, it is a beautiful and rewarding string instrument to learn. The first step in playing the violin is preparing the bow. Tighten the bow hair by turning the screw on the very end of the bow, clockwise. Putting rosin on the bow will allow the bow to grip the strings.
It is important not to touch the bow hair with your fingers, as oil from the fingers will not allow the rosin to stick to the bow. Holding the bow in your left hand and the rosin in your right hand, rub the rosin using some pressure, an inch up from the frog and up to the tip of the bow, three or four times. See image below.
Hold the bow in your right hand, horizontally and towards the floor. With your fingers relaxed, drape your fingers of the right hand over the side of the bow. With your thumb bent, tuck the tip of the thumb into the “u” shape part of the frog. See image below.
Ensure that the first three fingers are relaxed and angled towards the tip of the bow. Your fingers should be equal distance apart and your index and middle fingers of your right hand can sit on top of the wood. The ring finger can hang on to the frog comfortably, either on or above the pearl circle.
The little finger can be placed on the tip of the bow. Do not hold the bow too tightly. If holding the bow correctly, you should be able to grasp the bow comfortably while doing a windshield washer motion. See image below.
Pick up the violin with your left hand and place the underside of the top of the violin on your collar bone. Holding the violin on an angle, place the violin to the left of your chin so that your jaw bone is cradling the instrument.
Your jaw should be sitting on the chin rest. You should be able to hold the violin between your chin and collar bone with no hands if you are holding it correctly. See image below.
To make the violin more comfortable to play, you will need to invest in a shoulder rest. You can easily make a shoulder rest by fastening a kitchen sponge to the back of the instrument with elastics. Another option is to buy an actual shoulder rest that can be adjusted, at most music stores. See image below.
Using the left hand, cup the neck between the left thumb and index finger, close to the scroll near the tuning pegs. Your fingers should be curved around the neck in a backwards “C” shape. It is important to keep the fingers relaxed. See image below.
When using the bow on the strings, tilt the bow at a forty-five degree angle away from the chin rest. With light tension, pull the bow smoothly in a downward motion, from the frog to the tip of the bow. As you draw the bow downwards, straighten the arm and elbow as the tip of the bow approaches the bridge. See image below.
Before learning notes in first position, it is important to practice controlling the bow, so that the sound is smooth and consistent on each string. Be careful to only touch one string at a time with the bow.
When you become comfortable with holding the bow, instrument and with the technique of the bow, you are ready to learn your first notes!
This guest post was written by Ken Walsh, a striving musician and part-time blogger, who loves to write about music playing tips. She has written for many sites such as Long & McQuade.