Junior String Ensemble – new in 2017!

Lessons started in Term 3 & here are some updates from the tutors.

Term 4, Week 1 (10 October 2017)

Hello Everyone,
Welcome back to term 4! Not long to go until we have our very first performance at the music night in November. I saw some really great progress in a lot of the students today, the holiday practice did not go unnoticed.

Today we worked on Twinkle Little star, which is certainly sounding more togther every week. This is a really great warm up piece for the students as it uses all 3 fingers and moves between 2 strings. I would like to have this piece sounding togther for the end of year concert, so if you can all make some good ground work on this in practice time, that would be great.

We also focused on the main rhythm of “In the Jungle”. We talked about the beat sounding like our own heartbeat. If you wish to get the kids thinking about the beat like “Ba-doom” that will help them to feel the rhythm easier. We will also aim to have this piece ready for the end of the year.

HUGEEEE shout out to the cellos this week. Some beautiful tones coming from our lower strings and clearly some decent practice is being maintained to see such great progress.

Also wonderful to see a number of students who have all ready completed their pink practice tables! I will bring in some new ones for those who need them next week and lets try and get all pink forms completed by the end of this term.

We did not have Michael in today as he is currently working on his own album in Melbourne, so we wish him all the best and look forward seeing him back with us next week.

So just a quick checklist for practice:

1) String bow hold
2) Violin remains up on the shoulder
3)long clear bows played on each string
4) Twinkle little star as a warm up song.
5) Working on the rhythm of “In the Jungle” (remember the heart beat )

See you all back next week with my partner in crime, MIKE!

Thanks again
Monique x

Term 3, Week 1

Hello parents!

Just letting you know we’ve had a wonderful start to our ensemble lessons. The children were all SO well behaved and it was great to see so many parents coming to the lesson. Its really comforting knowing that the adults are taking an interest in their children’s learning.

What we covered:


  1. Never touch the bow hair
  2. Tighten the bow before playing, loosen it after playing

See more here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QBL1P2nKn0

  1. The bow is NOT a sword.


  1. Sit up straight – The more you can discourage your children from slouching the easier a time they are going to have. While it seems innocent now, it can really cause problems down the track.
  2. When holding the violin/viola. My biggest rule is to not tense up!

If your child is experiencing any pain in the slightest, then there is something wrong.

Here is a helpful video:


Private Lessons

I would really encourage everyone to enroll their students in private lessons. Generally a group lesson is less about teaching the students how to play their instrument, but teaching students how to play together. Of course, at this beginner stage we’ll be doing both, but for best results I’d encourage private lessons. I’ve heard wonderful things about Riri, and I have quite a few vacancies myself.

Week 3

Hello Everyone,

Thanks for a great turn out over the last 3 weeks. We are seeing some really great progress with the kids and their instruments.

Here is just a few things I would like the kids to focus on.


1) Keep that violin or Viola up on the shoulder and practice your octopus arms! I also realise that we have the kids seated in the lessons time, however I would prefer if the kids practiced standing up. Practice does not need to be too long (10-15 mins a day), but standing is much better for posture and technique.

2) Bunny Rabbit Bow Hands! Keep and eye on those bunnys. Don’t let them turn into Llamas (straight fingers over the bow), always have curved fingers over our bow. Thumb must sit under the frog (the flat part under the bow grip). Sometimes it is a good idea to focus one of your practice times just on the bow hold. Practice picking up the bow and putting it back down, each time getting that bunny bow hold perfect!

Technique will always be something that is changed and improved as we learn more, however it should be a key focus on their practice so that we do not create any bad habits early on.

First and second fingers!

This was so exciting to begin our first and second fingers this week. Here are the steps to get tat first fingers sound like a dream!

1) Thumb MUST be inline with the first finger stripe. I like to draw a little smiley face on the thumb and have the eyes peeping over the finger board, watching the first finger. Another thing I will be addressing in our lesson next week is keep the wrist down and open. It is early stages, but this will become easier if our violin is being held up with the head and shoulder and NOT the hand. The Hand must be free to move around as we learn new fingers.

2) Place the first finger on the first finger stripe. Practice what I like to call sirens;

Eg: Open A string – place 1st finger down on the A string – Take off the First finger – Place the first finger ect.

I usually draw that pattern like this:


Here is some Siren exercise for you:

A0 A1 A0 A1 X 10 TIMES

E0 E1 E0 E1 X 10 TIMES

If your child starts to get this pattern and its sounding great have a go at this little exercise;

A0 A1 A2 A1 A0 X 10 TIMES

E0 E1 E2 E1 E0 X 10 TIMES

I also like to play “Simon says” games like saying “Simon says A1!…Simon says A2! Simon says Open E string!” And make it a game to test their movement around the violin.

Ok that is enough ramble from me this week. Please feel free to contact me or Mike if you have any questions about this weeks work.

Also for anyone who needed stripes on their instruments, the ones I collected on Tuesday have been striped and ready to be picked up in the music/ band room.

Happy playing kids!!

From Miss Monique and Mike x

Hello everyone, Mike here.

 Week 9/Holidays

Just wanting to let you know that the last two weeks have seen a huge improvement in the ensemble, not only in individual playing, but in working together as a group.
Mon and I have noticed we have to spend less and less time getting the kids to focus, and are able to do a lot more playing as a consequence.

We took on a new piece this week, The Lion Sleeps Tonight (See sheet music attached below). This is a really fun arrangement with some really funky parts to it. It doesn’t matter if you have a violin 1,2,3 voila or cello; you call get a fun part to play.

Secondly, it slipped my mind this week, but last week I showed the kids a D major scale. Its one of the most important things we can practise at this early stage, as the next 3 or 4 tunes we learn will utilise the notes of this scale. I have attached it below, with two variations, just in case they get bored.

Happy practising. I’ve made some audio examples for the kids to practise along to. I’ve had some really positive results with these so please make sure your child listens to their part a few times before they practise, and be sure to jam along to the banjo backing track!