Violin Movement Building Blocks

Designed for children ages 3-6, these fun videos help young beginners master the complex movements of playing the violin while singing enjoyable songs that form the Kaleidoscopes violin repertoire.

Most of the exercises below include videos; for a few exercises the videos are not yet complete. All of the exercises are detailed in Kaleidoscopes Book 1.

Hand and Finger Skills

Many violin posture problems happen because various parts of the body haven’t yet leraned to move independently.

Child motor development proceeds from general to specific control — so an effort to bend one finger results in several fingers (and the thumb) bending as well. 

The inter-osseus muscles of the hand (which spread the fingers) also tend to be activated when the fingers are bent — which can result in bunched-up fingers on the violin or bow hand.

The Movement Building Blocks are designed to develop the isolations necessary for violin playing. CLICK the tabs on the right to view each one.

BASE JOINTS: Yankee Doodle, Naughty Kitty

The Naughty Kitty activity helps students to notice the two possible alignments between the finger and the hand. This control is important for both the bow and violin hand.  

VIDEO: Naughty Kitty Cat

The Yankee Doodle activity builds the skill of aligning the base of the finger with the back of the hand, and keeping the other fingers relaxed while the index is fully bent.

VIDEO: Yankee Doodle

FINGER AWARENESS: Frere Jacques, Birds' Wedding

The finger-play to the tune of “Are You Sleeping” (“Where is do Finger”) is perfect for snuggling before bed, practicing finding fingers doremi, and fa (index through pinky). Parents, if your child is on your lap, your child can easily see your hand directly beside their own, making it easier for them to find the correct finger.

VIDEO: Frere Jacques

In addition to building awareness of the different fingers, the Birds’ Wedding activity also differentiates the finger tip from the finger pad, and the skill of pressing the finger.

VIDEO forthcoming: Birds’ Wedding

FINGER DEXTERITY: Button

Button You May Wander develops dexterity by picking up small items with each finger. It is also a midline-crossing activity. Your child may need your help finding the correct fingers! Supplies needed: a large book or box; four large beads or pom-poms.

VIDEO: Button You May Wander

HAND AND ARM: White Coral Bells

White Coral Bells practices maintaining a simple bow hand (“bow bunny”) while bending the wrist. In the high position, the wrist is convex; in the low position, it is concave.

VIDEO forthcoming: White Coral Bells

FINGER ISOLATIONS: This Old Man, Bingo

This Old Man develops lateral finger independence. In the scissors shape, the fingers form a “V.” In the “Rocket Booster” shape, the index and pinky separate, while the middle two fingers stay together.

VIDEO forthcoming: This Old Man

Bingo develops the ability to maintain the curve of the middle fingers while alternately lifting the pinky and index finger. 

VIDEO forthcoming: Hole in the Bucket

Hole in the Bucket develops the ability to maintain a curve in the middle fingers while extending the pinky.

VIDEO forthcoming: Hole in the Bucket

FINGER BENDS: Reuben & Rachel, Paw Paw, Hole in the Bucket

Reuben & Rachel develops the ability to bend the index while maintaining the thumb straight. Paw Paw Patch develops the reverse skill.

VIDEO forthcoming: Reuben & Rachel
VIDEO forthcoming: Paw Paw Patch

Hole in the Bucket develops the ability to maintain a curve in the middle fingers while alternately curving and extending the pinky.

VIDEO forthcoming: Hole in the Bucket

Body & Arm Awareness

These activities build awareness of arm position and help the student to move the arms independently of the trunk.

If the student forms good muscle memory for these movements during the pre-violin phase, playing the violin will feel natural from the beginning.

ARM ROTATION: Mary, Ducklings

Mary Had a Little Lamb teaches the twisted and lifted position of the violin arm, which can feel unfamiliar and awkward to a novice player. 

Two-step version: Raise the left arm and touch the side of the pinky to the nose. 

Four-step version: Same as above, but then extending the arm outward.

VIDEO: Mary Had a Little Lamb

All My Little Ducklings practices the rotation of the arm using both arms and touching the elbows together. 

VIDEO forthcoming: All My Little Ducklings

BOW ARM: Hot Cross Buns, Boil Them Cabbage, Skip to My Lou

The Hot Cross Buns exercise develops awareness of keeping the bow arm level and opening from the elbow.

VIDEO: Hot Cross Buns

In the “Boil Them Cabbage” activity, the “hayride” (bouncing above the shoulder) establishes the hand position for playing at the frog. It also builds comfort with having the bow arm raised to the level of the violin.

Do this activity standing up, making sure not to twist to the left.

VIDEO: Boil Them Cabbage (Hay Ride)

Skip to My Lou teaches the distinction between opening from the elbow (the correct motion) and opening from the shoulder (the wrong motion). 

VIDEO forthcoming: Skip to My Lou

BOTH ARMS TOGETHER: Twinkle

Once students have done the movements for the left and right arms separately, these are added together.

Two-Step Version: Going from resting arms to playing arms.

Four-Step Version: Same as above, except adding an “open, close” of the bow arm.

VIDEO forthcoming: Twinkle, Twinkle 

TURNING THE HEAD: Toddy-O

When young children turn their head, they naturally turn their entire body. As a result, when they play violin they may gradually twist to the left. This lively pre-violin exercise helps them isolate the head turn.

VIDEO: Toddy-O (Stuck in Clay)

CIRCLES: Buttercup

All Around the Buttercup introduces a preliminary bowhold, the “bow bunny.” 

Version 1: Circle the Bow Bunny with just the hand

Version 2: Same as above, but inserting a pencil into the bow bunny.

VIDEO forthcoming: All Around the Buttercup