One long note can be heard in the hall. A pleasant tone that resonates in the hall of the Lower School. Nearly 20 third grade students are playing the violin in a class led by Dr. Jeannine Mongeon, the Middle and Upper school instrumental instructor, and Gina Mobley, the Lower School music teacher.
“We teach the violin much like teaching the basics of learning a language,” said Dr. Mongeon. “Starting in second grade, we work on how to hold the instrument, identify the parts of the violin, vocalize the different rhythms, and how to use the bow properly by using items to represent the bow and violin for before they actually begin using the instrument.”
The students hold their mock violin appropriately and go through the motions of drawing the bow across the strings as though they were really playing. The first thing they ask when they walk through the door is, “Are we getting the violin today?” They are truly engaged and looking forward to playing the real thing.
The third grade students, on the other hand, are handling their instruments with care and bowing very well through basic notes. They are learning to pluck the strings, use the bow, practicing how to use two hands separately, and beginning to read music. They are playing open string songs which are followed by songs which utilize the fingers of the left-hand.
“Our students really benefit from practicing, even just a little every day,” said Mrs. Mobley. “The way you place your fingers, how you hold the instrument and the bow, it’s all unfamiliar and the more they practice, the easier it becomes. I love hearing them say, ‘That didn’t sound good, let’s do it again, we can do better!’”
Dr. Mongeon have made resources available for students and parents on Schoology. Those resources are a great way for parents to be involved in the process to encourage students in their pursuit of music.
Once students reach fourth and fifth grade, the violin program is only available after school, it is no longer a part of the school day. This unique program provides our Lower School students with a wonderful chance to enjoy music in a different way – not just listening to it, but playing a song can be rewarding!
Students perform their new skills on February 13, 2019, during the Strings Concert that is held at the Clermont Performing Arts Center in Clermont. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see all of our talented students perform.