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Digital Subscriptions > The Strad > December 2019 > Teaching rhythm and bowing to beginners

Teaching rhythm and bowing to beginners

How to inspire very young musicians to learn new cello playing skills

Teaching & Playing


Private teacher; string tutor at children’s holiday courses across the UK; reti red teacher of the junior departments of the

Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the Tower Hamlets Strings Project, London



Teaching rhythm using words is far more effective than trying to explain complicated ideas about quavers (e), semiquavers (S) and dots. Make flash cards for different notes and patterns, tell your students the name of each one, and use syllables to show how they sound.

To begin, clap the rhythms together; then, over the weeks, teach them to tap the crotchet (J) pulse on their knees as they say the syllables out loud:

You can make any combination of these, and also try some more complicated rhythms:

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About The Strad

We examine the 1677 ‘Romanov’ Nicolò Amati viola and the Royal Danish Orchestra’s instrument collection. Manfred Honeck explains how playing viola informs his conducting and Linus Roth discusses Weinberg. Plus the first in a two-part Berg Masterclass, with Leila Josefowicz.