Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series documenting the Atrium School M+MI Program’s Violin Project. Documentation efforts, including this post are being led by NewsBlog moderator Randy Wong.
Students at the Atrium School (Watertown, MA) are the newest cohort to pilot the MIENC’s ‘Music Plus Music Integration” Program Violin Project. (Last summer, students from across Mankato, MN received M+MI violin instruction for ten weeks). The videos below show a glimpse of what the first day of instruction looked like.
I found it exhilarating to experience how excited the students were when they received their instruments for the first time. The buzz in the air was definitely electric.
Yet for all the energy in the room, the students were able to contain and focus it on learning. Among the first activities was learning how to stand in Rest Position.
Also: How to hold the violin securely with one’s chin.
Students also learned the “body parts” of the violin, thanks to a song that Helen made up in which each part of the violin corresponds to a scale degree. The first lyric, “This is the scroll” begins at the bottom of the scale. As the scale ascends, the students learn each successive part of the violin; for example, “These are the tuning pegs” is sung on scale degree 2. While I was confused at first why Helen started at with the scrollâ€”I always visualized the scroll as the “top” of the instrumentâ€”after thinking about it, I realized her rationale has to do with the pitch range of the strings! “Open” strings (meaning: unfingered) have the lowest pitches on the instrument. As one lays fingers down on the finger board, the pitches get higher. Thus, even from what-could-be a simple song, she’s laying down the framework for teaching students about pitch and intonation. Very clever.