Violin Ensemble/ String Group Scale Warm ups and pieces

My ‘String Group’ (violin ensemble) started back up this month.  As I have many beginners, I decided the repertoire had to be really simple.  We concentrated on listening to each other, and playing in tune.

After spending 5 mins tuning everyone up, we started.

Our first song:

G Major Scale simple

Those who wish to play open strings can do so.  Everyone else plays the scale on top.


- Ask what people are having for dinner.  Play to that rhythm.

- Play as a round, eliminating the second G top note.


Our second song:

D Major Scale and rhythms

Instructions on variations are written on the music.


Our third song:

Copy Me open strings and 1st finger

Again, a very simple song using open G and D, and the first fingers on those strings.  I had some students reading the notes as “G or D”, and others reading them as “Do or So”.


We finished with The Irish Washerwoman (type that in the search bar on my blog, and it will come up).

It was an awesome no stress night for my beginner students.  Very simple, no-one got embarrassed, and everyone was pretty much in tune.

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Beethoven Movie Theme Exerpt

I had this theme stuck in my mind since the beginning of the year and I wasn’t sure why, as I hadn’t watched the movie for many, many years.  ‘Beethoven’ is about a family who ends up with a very cheeky, loveable and protective Saint Bernard named ‘Beethoven’.

The music is written by Randy Edelman, and I have arranged a section of it for my string Group.  It is in A major, and there is a part for very new beginners, doing pizz on two open strings.  Here is Beethoven’s Opening Theme Excerpt:

Beethoven Opening Theme

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Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference notes

I had no idea that general notes or some sort of transcription was available from previous Pedagogy Conferences.  I was very delighted to stumble across a link, as I was sad to be missing out on the one in Melbourne coming up this year in July, as I have a new little person, and waaaaay too much happening.

Here are the links:-

2005 APPCA

2007 APPCA

2009 APPCA

2011 APPCA

2013 APPCA

They don’t contain all the notes, probably just a summary of what the presenters were going to discuss.  Obviously it would be more helpful to attend these events, but if you cant, the notes are better than nothing!



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Yodel Away

For a bit of fun for my String Group, I wrote a Yodel song.  It’s very simple for 3 violins but we had fun trying to see how fast we could play it.

Here is the score (it is only 3 pages, and should fit okay on a music stand): Yodel Away Feb 2014

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A Very, Very Cold Song

Yes, I did an arrangement of this song for three violins.  I’m sure you can guess which one.  Hopefully I won’t get into trouble for posting my arrangement here, as it was done off the top of my head.  I have only seen the movie once and loved it.

Anyways, here’s the score for my ‘Cold Song’: Let It Go Frozen A major

It’s rather long, so here are the three separate parts as well:-

Let It Go Frozen A major Violin 1

Let It Go Frozen A major Violin 2

Let It Go Frozen A major Violin 3

I didn’t write a tempo on it (oops), but it should go about 118 crotchet/whole note beats.  Enjoy!

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My version of ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams

So this isn’t exactly ‘Happy’, but it does have that familiar tune.  I added in a few extras to make it my own arrangement of it.

My students certainly loved playing it, and it’s short and sweet.  I wrote it for 4 violins, and the melody is shared between Violin 1 and Violin 2.

Hope it puts a smile on your face!

Happy – Pharrell Williams

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Are you a little rusty on Scale Degrees and Modes?

I certainly was.  After spending so many years teaching students in the lower grades for piano, I had forgotten a lot of the things I learned many, (many) years ago that I was sure I would never forget.

Needing a reminder of what the names of the scale degrees were (there was one that had me stumped), and something I could perhaps show my students, I came across some sample pages from Jerald M Simon.  Jerald has very kindly put up some free sample resources of his books on his website (found here: )

There are some scale exercises, some Jazz books, “Cool songs for cool kids” and lots of other goodies.  It’s worth taking a look.

The modes and scale degrees are in his ‘Scales and Modes’ book.


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Christmas String Group in November

December is always a busy time of year, so we did our Christmas String Group songs in November, and we had December off.

I thought it would be lots of fun to invite the parents in, give them some percussion to do in our Christmas songs, and perform some favourite previous String Group pieces we had played during the year.  Despite the pouring rain outside, we had lots of fun.

Here are the Christmas songs we did:-

Jingle Bells Sleigh Bells Parents (Jingle Bells parents percussion part)

Jingle Bells (The entire score – a violin trio plus the percussion part)

Deck the Halls Parents Percussion (The percussion part only)

Deck the Halls (Violin trio plus the percussion part)

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Friday Night at the Movies Violin Trio

This violin trio is an original piece of mine.  I had the idea of dramatic movie themes, and taking my violin students on a movie journey during their Friday Night String Group.  This piece has been one of their absolute favourites so far.  We couldn’t get it quite up to speed on the night, but we had a lot of fun with it.

Friday Night at the Movies

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Erin’s Dream – A RH Song

I wrote this piece for a mid-teen female student of mine who was fun and whimsical and absolutely adored Anne of Green Gables.

This is a very pretty piece (it suits the student very well).  Fairly simple RH only song for the piano part, but the teacher part is ‘interesting’.

Erin s Dream RH song

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