Since Claire has been using the pieces from the anthology so successfully, I asked her if she would share her thoughts on how she has decided to integrate them with the Suzuki repertoire. Being the generous person that she is, she sent me this wonderful guide for 12 of the pieces. Here are the first four. Many thanks!
An Old World Minuet by Eve Hungerford
Where to put it: Suzuki Book 1, after Allegretto & Andantino
An Old World Minuet is a charming piece that introduces the ¾ time signature in a friendly way that allows the student more time to adjust to the key of D Major. There are good opportunities to work on level changes, simple slurs, and 4th fingers. It doesn’t require as sophisticated a bow arm as the Bach Minuets, so this is a nice introduction.
- Have the student count out loud or play subdivisions yourself during the dotted quarter notes so they hold them full value.
- Depending on the student’s level of coordination, have them do a “Minuet step” while either singing, clapping, or playing the piece. A “Minuet step” = one big step to the side, two small steps, and then repeating the process in the opposite direction.
The Gipsy Fiddler by Eve Hungerford
Where to put it: Suzuki Book 1, before Etude (I teach this right after An Old World Minuet)
This piece is the most wonderful low 2 piece. It has the advantage of not using any 3rd or 4th fingers, so the student can focus on the relationship of the low 2nd finger to the 1st finger. The piece is in minor, so the student hears how dramatic the shift to low 2 is. There are no high 2’s in this piece, so there is minimal confusion.
Gipsy Fiddler also uses a lot of slurs, but in fairly simple patterns, and also helps students work on developing a full, sustained tone. It continues work in ¾, with a contrasting middle section in 4/4 that introduces students to meter changes much earlier than the Suzuki books do.
- To avoid overwhelming students with slurs and low 2’s at the same time, I have them play each note twice (“doubles"), separate bows.
- Once they’re comfortable with the finger patterns, I have them play 3 hooked martele instead of 3 slurred to ensure that the contact with the string is good and that they know how to divide the bow.
- Finally, we integrate the slurs once the finger patterns and the bow division are comfortable.
Note: After Gipsy Fiddler, I like to use the Bohemian Folk Song in e minor and All Through the Night from Barbara Barber’s Solos for Young Violinists, Volume 1 to work on the idea of high 2 on the D string and low 2 on the A string in G Major. I also do a lot of work on the two octave G Major scale and arpeggios before teaching Etude.
Rainy Daze, by Hannah Bartel
Where to put it: Rainy Daze fits well anywhere between the Minuets through all the G Major pieces in the early part of Book 2.
Rainy Daze gets students using all the patterns from the G Major Scale over all four strings, in a variety of both step and skip patterns. This piece works especially well between any of the Bach Minuets in Book 1 – my students love the fresh, contemporary, fiddle-inspired style and find it a welcome contrast. There are a lot of two and four note slurs, which help strengthen those skills before proceeding forward in the Minuets. I’ve found that students who have played Rainy Daze before Musette in Book 2 handle those slur patterns much better, as well. There’s also one really fun line with a little bariolage to introduce the idea of backwards string crossings.
- Leaving the 3rd finger down from m. 18 – 20 in the bariolage section also lets you work on hand frame, if you’re so inclined.
- Have the students practice singing the introduction and then coming in on beat 4.
- Have the students play all the slurs as hooked martele first. You can monitor both the bow distribution and ensure that the string levels are changing while the bow is stopped.
The Bumblebee, by Anna Priscilla Risher
Where to put it: Like Rainy Daze, The Bumblebee can work well between the Minuets or also in early Book 2.
The Bumblebee does great pre-trill preparation, including three glorious measures of 3-4 for a good 4th finger workout. It’s much more scalar than Rainy Daze, and helps reinforce patterns in G Major as well. The concept of 3/8 may be a little tricky for students at this level to understand, so a little rhythmic work outside the piece is needed. All the slurs also help create a sustained sound, and having one bar per bow is usually fairly easy for students to remember. A few well-placed ritardandos and fermatas make for wonderful lessons about musical pacing and timing, as well as breathing and cuing your pianist.
- Teach separate bows first
- Use hooked marteles before adding the slurs to help with bow distribution.
- Depending on the student, you can talk about using smaller amounts of bow at the beginning of the crescendo and then increasing it to make a crescendo.