Tricks to Tunes

The Maestro shows how to turn tricks into tunes

for violin, viola, cello and double bass

This set of tutors is designed for teaching mixed string instruments in groups. It is a systematic program developed over many years from many years experience teaching strings in schools.

The tutors are aimed at the primary and lower secondary school age group but are also suitable for older beginners.

The children learn ‘tricks’ for their fingers or bows, which are fun when done in a group. Reading skills are developed at the same time.

Each page represents a small step in musical and technical development based on reading music from the very first lessons. Theory homework is included at the end of most sections, providing the complete theory required as children progress.

The tutors for each instrument are identical in content except where differences are required to accommodate the different instruments.

Books 1 & 2 of the series are each intended to cover one year of group tuition, based on a school year of 40 weeks. Book 3 provides material for two years. Progress will vary according to the age of the children, the size of the group and the extent of their previous musical experience.

Additional repertoire at the end of the books provides:

  • extension work for pupils who reach the end of the book before the rest of the group
  • additional work for those who want it
  • end of year concert pieces

These tutors make playing music fun, as it should be!

Book 1

Book 1 progresses in steps from a single open string to the scale of D major. One divergence from the usual approach is that the note G is taught after E but before F#. This better develops the left hand position, especially for cellists. The tunes in this section of the tutor are based on the minor 3rd interval and correlate with the Kodaly method in classroom music.

As the primary intention of this tutor is for group tuition of mixed string instruments, the note A is initially presented as an open string (except for the double bass). The use of the fourth finger for violin and viola is introduced later in the book.

All tunes until late in Book 1 are in common time to establish a strong sense of basic rhythm and a solid understanding of beat before adding other variations.

Book 2

Book 2 starts with the introduction of the notes on the G string. Next come sections on bowing starting with simple slurs, then cross string slurs, uneven bow distribution and stopped slurs. No new notes are introduced while slurs are being mastered allowing the pupil to learn one new concept at a time.

F and C natural and the scale of C major are introduced followed by the notes on the E string (violin) and C string (violas and cellos). The book also covers dotted rhythms and 6/8 time.

Book 3

Book 3 extends the series to the 3rd and 4th years. The book introduces new rhythm and bowing, ornaments, minor scales, new shifts and finger patterns. Theory includes new scales, intervals and transpositions. When a new concept or skill is introduced, the tune immediately following reinforces it and is a little easier to help ensure success.

Accompaniment Books

For each of the books in the series there is one accompaniment book that covers all four instruments.

The Accompaniment Books contain piano parts that are simple enough to allow parents or siblings with some musical skills to play. For many of the simple pieces the right hand piano part is suitable as a violin accompaniment.

These are great resource books for ensemble work. Many tunes are arranged for duets, trios or quartets and allow more advanced pupils to play along with beginners. Accompaniment Book Three has harmony parts that span the range of ability from beginner to able fourth year player.

Books One and Two contain over a dozen games that provide variation for the class while reinforcing notation recognition and musical concepts. All books contain teaching notes and lesson ideas and explain the approach being used.

The content of the student books is repeated for easy reference. Differences between instruments in the student books are highlighted. All page numbers are cross referenced and indexed for ease of use.

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