Cami Shaskin

Violin Blog


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This blog is about all things violin. It is meant to educate, inspire, and provide resources for parents, teachers, and students. The author takes full responsibility for the viewpoints expressed here. In instances where she quotes ideas from others, she pledges to cite her sources as fully, responsibly, and accurately as possible. Topics will include book reviews, technique tips, entertaining anecdotes, quotes, jokes, educational findings, instrument care suggestions, violin in the news, repertoire lists, etc.

Cami J. Shaskin graduated with her master's degree in Music Education in 2008. Violin has always been her primary instrument, since beginning private lessons at age five. See camishaskinviolin.com/info for her music résumé, or click on Spotlights for historical recordings. Cami has enjoyed an array of experiences in writing, from penning award-winning articles as a journalism staff writer in high school, tutoring peers at BYU's Writing Center, earning a Writing Fellows scholarship and a minor in Language and Computers, and later becoming a published author. She recently picked up web programming as a hobby, earning a certificate in Web Programming and Development from the local community college. This blog has been a collaborative effort between her and her husband, who is a Web Developer by profession. Together, they designed and coded this blog and its original content "from scratch."

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2021
    Jan
        16 - Welcome to My Blog
        23 - Violin Teaching Kits
        30 - The Power of Inspiration
    Feb
        06 - Valuable Techniques
        07 - From the Top
        13 - In Honor of Valentine's Day
        20 - Violin Jokes
        28 - Beginning Orchestra Teaching
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        06 - Singing in Orchestra
        13 - Nurtured by Love
        21 - Helpful Websites
        27 - Unique Case Uses
    Apr
        02 - Favorite Music Quotes
        10 - All About Tone
        17 - Unique Composer Stories
        24 - Teaching Values
    May
        02 - Believing Teachers?
        15 - Violin in Art & Architecture
        23 - A Solo Repertoire List
        29 - Our Quartet
    Jun
        20 - Theft and Other Lessons
        26 - Violin Bridge Tips
    Jul
        07 - Clever Violin Memes
        20 - Horses and Lions
    Aug
        04 - Music During Covid
        16 - Favorite Music
    Sep
        12 - Being There
    Oct
        16 - Sight Reading Tips
    Nov
        05 - Why It's the Frog
    Dec
        20 - Bach on the Brain
        30 - Impact for Life
2022
    Jan
        23 - Tendonitis Helps
    Feb
        21 - An Old Performance
    Mar
        23 - Cars3 & Coaching
    Apr
        28 - Buying a Violin for Dummies
        29 - Preferred Brands
    May
        27 - Love: A Calling
    Jun
        20 - Gratitude for Idaho Shop
    Jul
        19 - Violinist Interviews Books
    Aug
        08 - Music Opens Doors
        23 - Top Classical Tunes for Violin
    Sep
    Oct
        11 - 100 Days of Listening
    Nov
        27 - Useful Analogies
    Dec
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Useful Analogies
27 Nov 2022
Analogies make learning the violin so much more interesting! Here are some I enjoy using when I'm teaching beginners.

The Army General

The left thumb is like an army sergeant with great posture (a straight back) who lives next door and is just tall enough that if he stands near the fence between your yards (a.k.a. the fingerboard) and peeks over the top, only his eyes show! I do actually draw with pen on the student’s hand, with the parent’s permission.

The Bunny Bow Hold

The bunny rabbit is helpful for describing not only the shape, but the soft, relaxed feel of the bow hand. The hand is definitely not so loose that it’s wimpy and slack. It needs to support the bow, after all! But it also should never be tight or tense like a turtle shell. The knuckles on the right hand should not look like mountain ridges, but should be as flat and relaxed as possible. This does take focus. And practice, of course.
For the bunny bow hold, pretend the bow stick is a carrot stick. (Make sure the students know to never touch the horsehair.) The bunny (the hand) “munches” the carrot from the tip of the bow down to it’s home inside the heel, or frog, of the bow. Notice that, like Bugs Bunny, there are two large teeth that come down over the chin (the middle two fingers pictured in front of the bent thumb. I always remind young students that their bunny has to have a chin.) The bunny ears are the pointer finger and pinky finger. They just rest on top of the bow after the other fingers and thumb are hugging the bow. You can have students pretend their rabbit has a twitchy ear (the pinky) and use that to get them to practice pinky taps on the bow.
A Trip to the Post Office

Whereas most of the other two analogies were heavily borrowed from my first teacher, this Post Office analogy, I believe, is mostly my own. I came up with the following imagery to describe to my students at what elbow level your arm should be at on each string (yes, there are four distinct levels!).

For the G string, I tell students to imagine they’re just the right height to rest their arm on the counter at the post office if it was as tall as their shoulder.
For the D string, I have students imagine they have a large box under their arm that they’re waiting to mail.
For the A string, I ask them to imagine a thick package under their arm.
For the E string, it’s just an envelope—not much space at all, so that the arm is practically hugging the right side of the body.

If you're a student, maybe this article gave you some food for thought for ways to check your posture. If you're a teacher, hopefully this sparked some creative juices for creating analogies of your own. Here's to continuing to making things fun with imagery in teaching.

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