initial violin

Initial Violin

In this post we will learn all about the Trinity Initial Violin syllabus for 2020 – 2023. To make full use of this resource, you will need to purchase the Trinity Initial Violin syllabus, which you can get at their online store. Here we will present all 9 pieces, along with extra resources to help you learn them. Under each one, click on “Learn about the Piece”. Here, Jeska will tell you all about the piece and its composer. Then, move on to “Watch the Video” and click there. There, Dylan will demonstrate the piece for you so that you can hear how it sounds. Finally, download your music theory resource.

Initial Violin: Sword Dance

Learn about the Piece!

Skullduggery…

The name of the composer at the top of this piece is actually an anagram. An anagram is a word that you can make by rearranging the letters of another word. One very famous anagram you probably know about is “I am Lord Voldemort” which is an anagram of the name “Tom Marvolo Riddle”. 

The composer’s real name was Jehan Tabourot. He came from the city of Dijon, in the beautiful region of Burgundy, in France. He was a polymath, which means he was interested in many different subjects, much like Leonardo da Vinci. Jehan wrote books about astronomy, dance and music. He lived in the 16th century, so his music belongs to the late Renaissance period. We use the word “Renaissance” to talk about the period in music and art that comes just after the Medieval period, and just before the Baroque period. 

Renaissance Music

Renaissance music is all about drama, energy and contrast. The violin had recently taken on the form in which we know it today, and composers were eager to show off what it could do. This piece combines two of the composer’s interests: music and dance. We hear the music of a sword dance. Imagine some gallant French knights in armour. The piece has been arranged by Kathy and David Blackwell, who are experts in writing music for young people. In music, if you “arrange” a piece, you take the original piece and change it a little bit, perhaps by making it easier, or adding instruments.

If you want to learn more about the Renaissance, download the resource in this lesson. When you’re ready, move onto the next lesson where Dylan will demonstrate the piece for you. As you listen, read along with your book. Pay careful attention to how he uses the bow: long for minims and crotchets, short for quavers.

ON GUARD! 

Watch the Video!
Download your Music Theory Worksheet:

Initial Violin: Knickerbocker Glory

Learn about the Piece!

Have you ever had a knickerbocker glory? If you haven’t, here’s recipe:

  • Raspberries
  • Icing sugar
  • Mango
  • Blueberries
  • Ice cream
  • Nuts (optional)
  • And a cherry on top

Stick it all in a tall glass, get yourself a very long spoon, and enjoy!

Now that you’re very hungry, let’s talk about this delightful piece composed by Katherine and Hugh Colledge. To play it, you will need:

  • Counting (especially the two bars at the beginning where you don’t play)
  • A Major scale 
  • Choppy quavers
  • Solid crotchets
  • Long, syrupy minims 
  • And a bright pizzicato on top!

In the next lesson, Dylan is going to demonstrate the piece for you. Before you go there, it might be a good idea to revisit the lesson on the A Major scale from Section 1. 

Enjoy!

Watch the Video!

Download your Music Theory Worksheet:

Here is a worksheet on the A Major Scale. Whenever you see three sharps in the key signature, you know you are playing in the key of A.

Initial Violin: On Parade

Learn about the Piece!

Parades are lots of fun. You get to see people dressed up and walking or marching, or even playing instruments, in unison. That’s what this piece should feel like. We have a long introduction from the piano. For the first four bars, you don’t play at all. This means you must count precisely as you listen to the piano, so that you come in at the right time: 1, 2, 3, 4…

For this piece we have to use the D and A strings. We are in D Major, which means we have an F sharp and a C sharp. F sharp is the second finger on the D string, while C sharp is the second finger on the A string. On both strings, we must stretch the second finger away from the first. Make sure that you count your crotchets, quavers and minims exactly, so that you stay in time, like someone marching in a parade!

Be sure to check out the D Major activity in the resources below. Then, watch the demonstration video. After that, you will learn everything you need to know to play this piece well.

Watch the Video!
Download your Music Theory Worksheet:

Initial Violin: Swinging Along

Learn about the Piece!

Swinging along is a fun, lively piece about, well, swinging! It was written by Anna Dryer-Beers, who is a composer and expert in children’s music. This piece is the only one in the syllabus that is unaccompanied. This means that you play it alone, without a pianist or any other instrument. This is a great opportunity to show off your technique!

The piece is in the key of A Major, which we can tell by looking at the key signature. There are three sharps: F sharp, C sharp and G sharp. The good news is that this means our second finger is extended on all of our strings, so we don’t have to worry about any tricky natural notes. But there are some tricky aspects, too: we have string crossings, dynamic markings (forte and piano) and an interesting rhythmic pattern here and there. All of these things combine to give us that free, swinging feeling that the piece is all about.

In the next lesson, Dylan will demonstrate the piece for you. In the lessons that follow, he will show you how to handle all of the technical challenges. Before you go there, though, be sure to try out the A Major activity in the resource below.

Watch the Video!
Download your Music Theory Worksheet:

Initial Violin: Fanfare

Learn about the Piece!

In this piece we find ourselves in the court of a great king, with trumpets blaring. This is a fanfare, which is a short tune usually played on brass instruments to welcome someone important. This one is an arrangement of a piece by Michel Corrette. He was a composer from Normandy, in the north of France. 

He lived in the 18th century. This means that his music belongs to the late Baroque period. We use the word “Baroque” to talk about the period in music and art just after the Renaissance and just before the Classical period. Baroque music is full of emotion, drama and intensity. Musicians in this period were keen to show off their skills. You can think of them like the pop stars of today. Michel’s main instrument was the organ, and he wrote many great pieces for this instrument. He also wrote books on how to play the violin and how to teach music. If you want to learn more about French Baroque music, download the resource below. Then, move onto the next lesson where Dylan will demonstrate the Fanfare for you.

As you listen, imagine a splendid royal court. The piece is a bright, happy tune in D Major. The contrast between the crotchets and the quavers gives it an energetic, bouncy feeling. We even have some staccato notes to play, and we have to use our fourth finger! Pay careful attention to how Dylan uses his bow. Be sure to watch the other lessons, too, where Dylan will explain what to do with the “Da Capo”. 

Watch the Video!
Download your Music Theory Worksheet:

Initial Violin: Happy Go Lucky

Learn about the Piece!

If you describe someone as “happy go lucky”, you are saying that he or she is relaxed, cheerful and friendly. People like this enjoy life and they don’t let problems get them down. Do you know someone like this? If you do, you should think about this person as you play this piece. The instruction at the top of the piece tells us to play “sunnily”. We have a four-bar rest at the beginning, so you’ll have to count very precisely as you listen to the piano: 1, 2, 1,2…

The composers, Kathy and David Blackwell, have given us plenty of instructions about how loud we should play. This is called dynamics. They have also shown us how to use the bow: up bow and down bow. Follow these instructions carefully – after all, the composer knows best!

Try out the A Major activity in the resources below, then watch the demonstration video. If you like the piece and you want to use it in your exam, you’ll need to watch the other lessons, too. These will help you to put it together with the right technique and the right attitude.

Enjoy!

Watch the Video!
Download your Music Theory Worksheet:

Initial Violin: Overture

Learn about the Piece!

In classical music, an overture is an instrumental piece that comes before the beginning of an opera or ballet. You can think of it like the musical sequence that usually comes at the beginning of a movie. Some of the most famous overtures in history are Rossini’s William Tell Overture, or Beethoven’s Egmont. Composers often use the overture to show off their skill in composing music for an orchestra. Typically, an overture begins slowly or quietly and builds up to a tremendous swell in the middle or at the end. 

This piece is a little overture for two violins. You will play the top line, while your teacher plays the bottom line. The piece is in a sunny G Major. There’s one sharp in the key signature: F sharp. This means that our second finger should touch our first finger on the A string for this piece, to make a C natural. When you play a duet, you need to pay very close attention to your partner. You must move and breathe together, so that it sounds like one person is playing. In bar 10, we have a crescendo, which means we need to build up from soft to loud. This, too, needs to be done in unison with your partner. It’s harder than it looks!

If you want to learn more about the history of the overture, download the resource below. Then, listen to Dylan’s demonstration of the piece. 

Watch the Video!
Download your Music Theory Worksheet:

Initial Violin: Menuet

Learn about the Piece!

The Menuet

A menuet, also known as a minuet, is a dance in three four time, like a waltz. People used to dance it in pairs while musicians played beautiful music. One such musician was the great George Frederic Handel. If you’ve ever heard someone sing “Hallelujah” in a high operatic voice, you have probably heard one of his most famous melodies, from his great work: “Messiah”. In this piece, we have an arrangement by Robert Trory of one of the pieces from his “Music for the Royal Fireworks”.

King George and his Fireworks

In 1749, King George II of Great Britain hired Handel to write music for a very special occasion. The music was to accompany the royal fireworks display in London. Handel had moved to England from Germany some years earlier and was by now a proud subject of the British crown. So he was more than happy to write this music. Unlike the king himself, the music was a big hit. People loved it and it is still regularly played to this day. Handel remains one of the most famous composers. Even Beethoven once said that he would bow the knee to Handel. To learn more about Handel, his life and times, download the resource below. Then, move onto the next lesson where Dylan will demonstrate this piece for us. 

As you listen, follow the beat closely. You should be able to count: 1, 2, 3 clearly in each bar. You’ll notice that we use a strong, precise bow stroke throughout. We even have a double stop towards the end!

Watch the Video!
Download your Music Theory Worksheet:

Here is a short biography of the composer, with some interesting facts about his life and times.

Initial Violin: Bell Ringers

Learn about the Piece!

This is a bright, jolly piece written by Katherine and Hugh Colledge. The piece sounds like bells ringing. To play it really well, you’ll need to understand your A Major scale. There are three sharps in the key signature: F sharp, C sharp and G sharp. This means that our second finger is always extended away from our first finger. We have some rapid scales to show off beginning at bar 7 and we have plenty of dynamic markings, such as Forte and Mezzoforte. These tell us how loud we should play: forte is loud, mezzoforte is strong, but not as loud as forte. Towards the end we have an Italian phrase: “poco ritardando”, which means “slow down a little bit”. 

Be sure to try out the A Major activity in the resources below. Then, move onto the next lesson where Dylan will demonstrate the piece for us. He’ll also show us how to handle all the tricky technical aspects of Bell-ringers.

Enjoy!

Watch the Video!
Download your Music Theory Worksheet:

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