Giving students opportunities to have a personal interaction with concepts we are teaching allows them to learn better, grasp ideas faster, and have an overall more fun experience. Since we brought in a violin last week, we wanted to build off of this. We brought in one of our volunteers, who plays the violin herself and was able to explain and demonstrate playing a violin to the students.
We first asked the students if they knew any parts of the violin from memory. We got a few answers, like the bow and the strings, but most did not know any pieces that constitute this instrument. We then gave them handouts with a labeled violin and had them read through the parts. After this, our guest played several songs while they colored their paper and listened carefully. She was able to show them the different sounds of each string, and they were able to determine the pitch of each string and locate it in the songs.
Parts of the Violin
- Body – The largest part of the violin is the hollow body. Its main function is to amplify the sound of the strings. The body is made up of the back, belly (top) and ribs (sides). The body is shaped like an hourglass.
- Neck and fingerboard – The neck is the long piece of wood that sticks out from the body. Glued on top of the neck is the fingerboard. This is a smooth flat piece of wood where the musician presses down on the strings to make notes. Unlike a guitar, the fingerboard on a violin is smooth and has no frets.
- Pegbox – the pegbox is where the pegs are inserted and the strings are attached. The tightness and tuning of the strings are adjusted by the pegs in the pegbox.
- Scroll – At the top of the violin is the scroll. Its often carved and is there mostly for decoration.
- F-holes – On top of the body and on each side near the middle of the violin are the f-holes. These holes are where the sound of the violin comes out of the body. They are called f-holes because they resemble an f in italics. Changing the size, shape, and length of these holes can change the sounds of the violin.
- Bridge – The bridge is a hard piece of wood that the strings lay on top of. It’s at the bridge that the strings stop vibrating and sound travels from the strings down into the body of the violin.
- Tailpiece – After passing over the bridge the ends of the strings connect to the tailpiece.
- Chin rest – At the bottom of the body is a chin rest which helps the musician to support the violin with their chin while playing.
- Strings – The violin has 4 strings all tuned to a fifth apart. They represent the notes G, D, A, and E.
The next project involved cardboard looms and string. We handed these out to each student and explained step by step so that they would work on each part together.
Step 1: To prep the looms, use a small, rectangular piece of cardboard and cut six or 7 slits on each shorter end. Next, wrap string around the cardboard, using the slits as place holders. This should create horizontal lines of string across the “loom.”
Step 2: Have the students tie one end of a new piece of string to the string bottom corner. This will ensure that it doesn’t slip with all the pulling. Next, have the students repeat the mantra “under, over.” This will help them concentrate and stay on track as they begin their weaving. Now instruct the students to grab the loose end of string and go over the 1st string on the loom and then under the next. They should continue the pattern till the last string on the loom and pull their weave through to make it tight.
Step 3: After reaching the top, they have created their 1st row of weaving. Now they need to go back down. If they went over the last string at the top, now they need to go under it coming back down, and vice versa. Have them continue this pattern until they reach the end of the loom. The tighter they weave, the more visible a pattern will be.
This is a weaving activity focused on concentration and hand-eye coordination. While it was confusing for some students to grasp the pattern at first, they soon caught on and were able to move faster. Once they did get the hang of it, it became a very meditative process. By repeating “under, over” they were able to focus on one simple phrase. Chanting mantras have been seen to reduce stress, decrease heart rate, and lower tension. Our goal is to implement practices into our project that enable the students to benefit mentally, physically, and artistically at the same time. They were able to bring this project home to finish and show their parents.