These are my favorite must-have teaching string aids. All of these products can be purchased as classroom sets. To learn more about each product, click on the correlating picture.
Bow Hold Buddies
The Bow Hold Buddies are a fun and clever way of setting up the right hand for beginner students. Students love the different colors and animal shapes while teachers love the “instant bow hold.” This product gives teachers peace of mind without having to worry if their students are practicing with the correct bow grip at home. This can also save a lot of time for younger students who are having trouble transitioning from pizzicato to arco. These “Bow Hold Buddies” fit all bow sizes, are latex free, durable and dishwasher safe.
Beginner violin and viola students are inclined to rest their instrument in the web space between the thumb and index finger. To remind them about the space and to drop the wrist in a relaxed position, I put in place a wine cork. Students can draw faces on them and name their “Cork Creatures.” While “cork creatures” is a term I came up with and not a music aid you can buy online, you can purchase a bag of wine corks on Amazon, or drink numerous bottles of wines until you have a collection of corks. (Think of it as therapy after a long day of teaching.) For students with small hands, it can be difficult to “stick a cork” in it, so I usually substitute it with a small puffball with googly eyes, reminding them not to squeeze the poor creature.
Perfection Planetary Pegs
Say goodbye to hand cramps and hello to smooth turns. For those working in a public school setting, teachers understand the physical pain I speak of when it comes to tuning all these instruments, cellos especially. For parents of students taking private lessons, there’s no need to worry about what to do if a peg slips (which is rare with perfection pegs). Like most pegs, these pegs take some time to break in, but once they’re set they really do uphold the name “perfection”! It provides effortless, non-slip tuning and eliminates the need for fine tuners.
Do you have students who have crooked bows and/or play too close or over the fingerboard? These are two common problems with one solution. Straws! Insert straws into the f-holes (insert inappropriate giggles) and place the bow on the side closest to the bridge. For violins and violas under ¾ size, regular drinking straws will be just the right size, but for larger instruments, such as cellos, try using large smoothie or bubble tea straws to ensure that they don’t fall into the instrument. This is a quick, cheap, and easy fix for any string teacher who is trying to correct or reinforce right arm technique.
Nothing gets you on the beat like Dr. Beat. The BOSS DB-90 Dr. Beat Metronome is for the everyday classroom or studio teacher. It promotes itself as the most advance metronome available and I’d have to agree. There’s a MIDI input for syncing to external sequencer tempos and PCM sounds with “drum machine” style patterns. Most importantly, it provides the twelve-tone equal temperament and it’s loud enough for every student to hear while tuning in a class. The BOSS DB-30C Dr. Beat Metronome is the wallet friendly student version. This metronome still holds the same essential functions with rhythmic beat patterns in various styles and tuning functions.
Tempo Tape/ Highlighter tape
This fun removable highlighting tape is ideal for marking music to meet your specific needs. For the beginner to the advance player, this product is great for helping a student focus, marking your gig music folder, or highlighting a difficult orchestral or color passage that needs extra practice. A handy tool indeed, this tape will definitely put more fun into your playing time.
I’m not the biggest fan on putting fingering tapes on instruments, however I do have to admit that sometimes it’s necessary. I’ve seen every adhesive product (stickers, scotch tape, electrical tape, etc.) used on a string instrument, and they all leave a sticky residue after you take them off and can be a hassle to clean. Pinstripe tape is the perfect solution. They’re thin enough for exact finger placement and once it’s on, there’s no chance of it lifting (since they are meant for cars). When your student is ready to remove the tapes just simply peel it off and be amazed.by