Fingerboard Scales for Beginners

Teaching and reviewing where the notes are on the fingerboard is something we do in every lesson. Mary Kay Neal was adamant in my Suzuki Book 3 training class to have our students say the letters out loud while they are learning to read notes on the staff. As I have incorporated that in my teaching I am discovering that having them say the letters out loud from the very beginning has been helpful. It forces them to associate a letter with the placement of the finger on the string. Rather than A2 or E1, from the very beginning they are thinking C# or F#. It is also important to have them say the sharp. Many of my students want to leave that extra word off and just say, C or G or F. This can lead to confusion down the road when we actually learn where C, G and F are on the fingerboard. While teachers realize this, it’s helpful to explain this to their practice partners understand why this is important.

Activity: Another way I use to help kids review and understand is through fingerboard maps. This worksheet can be done away from the violin. This is used after we have been playing the A scale. I have them fill in the letters. Studies have shown that the physical act of writing helps the brain retain the information. So, here is yet another way to make sure those letter names are sinking in.

Creativity: I had each students fill out the fingerboard chart in group class yesterday, and then I had them write 7 letters from the A scale in a line at the bottom of their page. Then they played those letters. Just a variation to help them understand where those pitches are on the fingerboard. Most of their melodies were very atonal but because it was their choices for what notes to use, there were big smiles as they each played them for each other. You could make this an even larger activity if they were to play this piece at home and come up with a title.

A Major

D Major

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