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Tips - Vamoosh String Book 2


Vamoosh Book 2 for Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass

Here are some teaching ideas for Vamoosh Book 2 which some teachers or parents may find helpful.

1. Midnight Highway

This is a simple open-string piece to ease pupils into the new book. It can be learned by rote or by using a chart. One way to start is to clap and say the rhythm, then to sing the notes along the backing-track before attempting to play. This will help memorization and also avoids over-loading information.

2. 3D Scales

As with book 1.5, here are a variety of scales with different rhythms. The top note is not repeated so it is possible to play these scales in canon, in thirds or triads.  This works best without the backing-track.

3. Carnival

The simplicity of this pieces means that it can be taught by rote.  When teaching in groups, split the group into two, with one half playing the first two bars (question) and the next group the following two bars (answer). This will add a little variety and will help in the memorization process.

4. At the Ballet

This is the melody that accompanies the piece by the same name in Book 1. One way to start is to see if pupils can identify the complete D major scale that concludes the piece. This might be nice to practise first. Crossing strings whilst fingering on the D string can be troublesome, but the familiarity of the melody should make it easier. This is a lovely concert item if you are combining different levels together.

5. Sailing Home

This is the melody that accompanies the piece by the same name in Book 1. As with the open-string version, encourage a relaxed bow action, emphasizing legato and piano. The second half of the piece explores harmonics. This is a lovely concert item if you are combining different levels together.

6. Clown Dance

This is the melody that accompanies the piece by the same name in Book 1. In performance, it is nice to play as a duet with no backing-track. Adding a simple drum accompaniment is a way to include more pupils.

7. Jingle Bells

This festive favourite is available as an ensemble item here.

8. Duet

This duet is made easier by the near identical rhythms. Start by teaching the eighth-notes in bars 3-4. This will help establish a steady pulse. When starting from the beginning, emphasize the need to keep the same steady pulse, using a marcato stroke on the quarter-notes. This will become essential on the last line where the rhythms diverge.

9. Low Down Twos

Start by leaving out the open D string notes, teaching the moving notes by rote. The low Ds should be added later once the fingered notes are learnt. The improvisation sections can be used initially for practising the technique of string crossing along to the backing-track. Some pupils who find the top line too challenging can look at the Accompaniment, which also covers low second fingers. To encourage improvisation, try playing 'questions' that last about 2 bars and have the pupils 'answer' with any notes of a similar length. If this is too much of a challenge, it is also helpful to use these sections for 'call and response' games.

10. 3g Scales

This is the first two-octave scale in the Vamoosh series. There is no key-signature, so a discussion about the role of F# (or more pertinently, C natural) may be an interesting way to start. Play the scale using C# and ask your pupils to raise a hand if they here a false note. See if they can accurately fix the problem using the knowledge they have acquired in the previous item about low 2nd finger. There is no need for them to see the notes until you have established the finger pattern. The notes are there to inform them of the rhythms if they are to play with the backing-track.

11. Alpine Waltz

This simple Waltz explores the key of G major and string crossing in a 3/4 meter.

12. London’s Burning

This familiar Round uses low 2nd finger in the key of G. It is nice to include singing in performance.

13. Frere Jacques

Another familiar Round where it is nice to include singing in performance.

14. Lazy Sundays

This piece serves to introduce slurs, or to re-introduce slurs depending on whether Book 1.5 has been played though. The staccato notes on the bottom line help to stop slurs, that can sometimes become too much of a habit once established.

15. Summer Parade

This simple piece in two parts uses both long legato bows and short accented notes.  The slur in the first line is something to focus on with players who are more advanced.

16. Prelude

This piece is a little challenging at this stage in the book, so might be better to return to later.  No accompaniment is necessary if you have both parts covered. It is nice to add a simple drum ostinato to give it an Elizabethan flavour.

17. William Tell

Ideal for mixed ability groups, this familiar tune works well in concerts and does not necessarily need accompaniment. In group teaching it is nice to start everyone on the lower line (with backing-track). This will keep everyone busy while those able to learn the top line do so. This piece also introduces 1st and 2nd endings.

18. Big Dipper

This piece is an initial introduction to Sautillé bowing technique. The notes are a combination of scales and arpeggios and are excellent for building technique and are fun to practice. The simple phrases and patterns make it easy to learn and memorize. It also introduces repeated slurs across two strings.

19. Kitchen Capers

This uses similar finger-work to Big Dipper but with slurs. It is a good piece for coordinating movement in the left-hand with simple broad strokes of the bow. It makes for an effective duet.

20. Smooth Operator

There are plenty of details to focus on in this piece. Interestingly, one of the biggest challenges is to observe the rest at the beginning of the bar. Only low 2nd finger (2nd finger on cello) is needed. Several new details are introduced including low 1st finger, trills and tremelando.

21. Down the Dusty Road

This piece in C major contains lots of descending scales.  Dynamic contrast, accents and different articulations are a feature of this piece.

22.  Gridlock

This piece uses low 2nd finger followed by high 2nd finger encouraging the player to hear and feel the difference (2nd and 3rd finger on the cello). To help emphasize the accented quarter-notes, try conjuring the sound of car horns. For the reprise, it can be nice to split the performers whereby a group echoes the other by playing one bar behind (the Gs, 8 bars from the end should be altered to A in the echoes). This is a fun concert item.

23.  Pick’n’Mix

There is a lot of flexibility built into this piece allowing for optimal possibilities. When teaching in groups, start with each section in turn. Allow your pupils to determine how far they wish to go depending on their level of confidence. It's perfectly fine for them to remain on sections 1 or 2. The backing-track plays the round 6 times. The varied mix of sharps, flats and naturals can inspire a discussion about fingerings.

24.  Catch Me If You Can

This two-part canon explores the key of d minor (though without key signature this time). It makes for a lovely concert item. Here is a good demonstration of it.

25.  Barcarolle

This famous tune encourages legato bowing.  With both cello and viola, shifting is required to play some of the high notes.

26.  Papageno’s Song

This combines two famous arias into a simple duet that does not necessarily require accompaniment.

27. A Major Scale

This scale introduces the new extended position. It might be nice to skip to No. 28. Lucky Charm before attempting this scale.

28.  Lucky Charm

To help establish the extended shape of the left hand, the melody starts with he stretch between 2nd and 3rd finger without the use of the 1st finger (2nd and 4th on the cello). This will help emphasize that the stretch is really between 1st and 2nd finger and not between 2nd and 3rd (4th on cello). This gentle piece also encourages legato technique and gives the opportunity to explore vibrato and dynamics.

29.  Rumba Cucumba

Building on the extended shape explored in Lucky Charm, this lively Rumba is full of A major scales, introducing D# and forcing the use of the 4th finger on the violin.

30.  An Arabian Night

This piece promotes a good left-hand shape with back-extensions by keeping the second (third for cello) finger in position, helping to really stretch the 1st finger back. It also combines sharps and flats in a distinctly middle-eastern mode.

31.  Kremlin

This Russian flavoured piece is full of details including double-stopping, meter and tempo changes, harmonics and dynamics. It is probably best taught in sections as the piece has clear divisions. Performed without backing-track allows the performer to exaggerate the different tempos and the accelerando towards the finish.

32.  Adios Amigo

This Latin flavoured tango is in A minor, building on the extended left-hand shape in a legato and melodic context. Use of the 4th finger on the violin should be encouraged, along with vibrato where possible.

33.  Vamoose

This fun piece brings together many techniques developed throughout the book. Try to keep a steady rock pulse, emphasizing the rhythmic drive without the need to play fast. The double-stop sections should help focus the intonation. There is an ensemble version of this piece also here.

34.  Jupiter

This famous melody by Holst is a celebratory way to conclude Book 2.