The “Numbers Game” is a set of steps I use to teach my students play position. I’ll outline the steps and my thought process behind them below.
Play position feet.
#1 – Violin hand on shoulder of the violin
#2 – Stretch out arm with violin over violin foot
#3 – Rotate the violin so the scroll points over foot
#4 – Student looks over bow shoulder, parent takes violin and places on shoulder
#5 – Student turns to look at parent then drops chin onto violin
#6 – Student puts violin hand on bow shoulder
As you can see you in the video, the Numbers Game takes my student from rest position (feet tightened, violin tucked under tight arm) to play position (feet shoulder width, violin under chin, left hand on right shoulder).
Assigning each step in the process a number has a few advantages.
- It organizes the way we (student/parent/teacher) think about play position. It isn’t one long, complex motion but seven short, simple motions.
- I can teach the process incrementally. In the first lesson with the Numbers Game we might practice step #1-3. I can then introduce each new step as I see fit.
- I can isolate one step at a time to make sure it is working properly. In other words, I could pull out just #3 without needing to change the way I talk about #1 or #2.
- We can easily start at any step (say #4) without getting confused. This allows the lesson to move faster.
- As my students begin to move to play position without my instructions or assistance, they have a road map and very clear idea of my expectations for play position.
At this stage of using the Numbers Game, my student still needs parent/teacher help to say the instructions and perform #4. However, the numbers game transfers easily as a student becomes independent.
The road to independence while still using the Numbers Game involves..
- student moving to a real violin (heavier, fragile)
- student leaving their left hand on the violin while parent/teacher does #4
- student performing #4 independently
- parent/teacher only whispering instructions
- parent/teacher staying silent while student performs steps alone
Oh, and in case you were wondering why it is called the Numbers Game, I should make it clear that is not an actual ‘game.’ Perhaps this is manipulative, but by calling it a game I hope to encourage some fun, or at least the idea of fun, in learning the process. Because the process of steps can become routinized so quickly, I love to surprise students by moving backwards through the steps (1, 2, 3, 2, 1) or delaying a step (1, 2 … … … 3!). But beware– giggling will ensue!
Have fun using the Numbers Game to organize your play position process!