Violinist for a day

Popular educational format inspired by Abreu’s “El sistema” using reticular didactics that allows to learn music by playing games

    School sections
    • Primary
    Educational subjects
    • Instrumental practice
    • Music, Rhythm and movement

Violinist for a day

The popular educational format “Violinist for a day” led students lacking any music experience to discover, in less than an hour, the beauty of playing the violin in an orchestra. It was developed on the basis of the reticular didactics approach that allows to learn music by playing games (MusicaInGioco), an Apulian experience inspired by Abreu’s El Sistema. The aim of the path was to show children how easy it is to play a musical instrument even without any prior theoretical or practical musical knowledge. This brief laboratory had the "magical" power to involve even children with disabilities (on the spectrum, learning disabilities, Down syndrome, etc.) or behavior disorders, who after an initial mistrust remained fascinated by the possibility to express themselves freely with the violin or to interact with the "orchestra".

Work tools

In order to realize the format, it is necessary to have a projector connected to a PC, a loudspeaker, violins (20 violins are sufficient for a laboratory involving about 60 students). With regard to spaces, it is necessary to have a room of at least 10x8 (or even a corridor equipped with the required devices), and at least 20 chairs without arm rests. The projector is necessary to show videos that explain the beauty of playing in an orchestra, but even to project simple scores that, even if not at the basis of the experience, contribute in "reducing" the fear of reading music, downsizing them to "suitable aids." During the first part of the project, the students interacted with the conductor’s gestures, with the call and response body percussion, with the traditional notation, that owing to the body percussion combined with the intonation of the written notes, helped to acquire speed and easiness in reading a score. After a short break, the students started to use the strings and owing to a backing track, usually a dance music piece, the students started to dance making movements with the bow as indicated in many bow methods, in particular the one developed by Paul Rolland. Immediately after, we asked them to freely play the violin and taught them the orchestra positions typical of the enormous structures created by A.J.Abreu’s El Sistema, developed to synchronize children in an orchestra. Lastly, they played a very simple piece of mine during the afternoon dedicated to strings, using an orchestra backing track.

Educational purposes

The skills, goals and training objectives selected by the teacher for this experience are shown below.

    • Comprehension
    • Execution
    • Improvisation
    Reading and Writing
    • Use of conventional analogic music notation
    • Learning to listen to oneself and to the others
    • Producing timbre, melodic and rhythmic combinations applying basic schemes; executing them with the voice, the body and instruments (including IT tools).
    • Improvising freely and creatively gradually learning to master techniques and materials
    Reading and Writing
    • Using analog and codified notation
Educational targets

Owing to this path, the students learned how to:
- live a gratifying experience of orchestra ensemble music.
- interact creatively and rhythmically with their voices and body percussion
- implement the basics of vocal, rhythmic and instrumental music reading
- identify the initial elements relating to a violinist and an orchestra
- live musical collective experiences in an interactive way


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