Fourth-Grade Strings Back in Full Swing

By Cheryl Scheidemantle

Our fourth-grade Strings program had a very special first this year before school even officially began. In the week preceding the opening of Lower School, our newest students participated in the first-ever “Strings Boot Camp.” These students started from the basics in their experience. They learned how to handle their new violins, how to care for them, the parts of the instrument and bow, and they learned how to play their new violins!  

As students soon discovered, the violin is a very physical sport. It takes stamina, strength, and tremendous grit to persevere in boot camp every day. The students rose to the occasion, needing only brief breaks for a 10-second stretch or five big breaths to gather back their energy. They learned the intricacies of a flexible and strong bow hold, how to execute numerous rhythms, and finally how to balance the bow just perfectly in the right place on each string with the right amount of weight and the right bow speed to make a beautiful tone. Students learned where to place their fingers on the violin to learn eight notes, then proceeded to learn how to play “Hot Cross Buns,” “Hoedown” (including the final shave and a haircut tag ending), and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” with rhythmic variations.  

On the final day, not even 10 minutes after learning the last song, students presented a demonstration concert of all the new skills they had learned over their week in Boot Camp. Parents and teachers alike were impressed with the hard work the students put into their week, and the students were solid in their determination to do their best.