16 reasons you should use See Saw Swing in your teaching practice

1. The title reminds young students that the bow see-saws when you cross strings, while the bow-arm swings when you use long strokes.

2. From the first line, students learn that every note on a violin uses long strokes or short strokes, and that long strokes and short strokes are different.

3. With every line, the student repeats the alternating pattern of string crossings in one bar and fingered patterns in the next. This alternating pattern is, of course, common to all music.

4. You can introduce See Saw Swing to the beginner from practically the first lesson, and continue to use it, with adaptations, until the student is ready for See Saw Slide, Volume 2 of Metatechnical Exercises.

5. For the beginner, the See Saw Swing system is a user-friendly note-reading primer. On every line, only two notes change; combined with the constant repetition of string crossings, this trains the beginner to automatically recognize the three basic string pairings while simultaneously learning the fingers.

6. See Saw Swing systematically trains the beginner to adjust tone production from one string to the other, while easily introducing the student to all four strings.

7. See Saw Swing is built on symmetry. The student learns that anything he does on the E string he can also do on the A string, etc.

8. See Saw Swing is progressive and nonlinear, at the same time. In the course of 8 chapters, the student practices basic finger patterns, learns to form a 1st finger bridge, practices hooked bowings, practices a 2nd finger bridge, practices triplets, practices slow double-string crossings, practices fast single-string crossings, and receives a creative introduction to shifting. But the book works best when you jump the student around from one chapter to another, forward and back, backward and forward.

9. The See Saw Swing system is adaptable. As a student advances, the exercises can be made more challenging by adding slurs, accidentals, and playing them in different positions. A creative teacher can alter these exercises in many ways and adapt the book to any teaching philosophy. There is also a page of rhythms, some of which are challenging and unique.

10. For a student needing remedial help, See Saw Swing is a powerful tool. It not only gives the student an easy way to improve tone production, but helps with note-reading.

11. See Saw Swing can be used both as a warm-up in lessons and as a recital piece. It is easy for any pianist to improvise accompaniments. Children hear See Saw Swing as music, and audiences enjoy hearing it performed.

12. In lessons, you can play most of the exercises in canon.

13. The constant repetitions are excellent for improving intonation.

14. As the student advances, you can increase tempo to develop velocity.

15. Practicing these exercises empowers students who were otherwise frustrated and ready to quit. It gives them agency and hope, because it makes it easier to produce good tone.

16. All violin music requires differentiating long strokes and short strokes, while crossing strings. In music, patterns change randomly and without warning and therefore seem chaotic. See Saw Swing brings order to the chaos.

Published by Michael Alexander Strauss

Professional violist and teacher. Creator of See Saw Swings and Bowing Magic.

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