French Folk Song


French Folk Song by Glenda Walsh Crouse

While French Folk Song is not included in the violin book, it can be found in the viola and cello books. I’m not completely sure why it was left out of violin books. Many teachers are asking for French Folk Song to be included in the repertoire and I must agree. Let’s hope they add it to the next revision!

I teach French Folk in A Major. I used to teach it in D Major so that my violin students could play it with my viola/cello students. I no longer teach it in D Major to my violin students upon their first encounter. I have found that the technical demands with the piece itself combined with exploring the D- String is too much all at once. However, I do encourage students to explore the D String through Monkey Song in D and the D Major scale. After graduating French Folk Song in A Major, I encourage students to transpose it it D major, and they are able to do it with ease, which lends to my original goal of having a piece that is compatible with the viola/cello students….the process is much easier though in A Major with the violin.

I teach my students French Folk song for a few reasons. As mentioned above, it helps violin students have a fuller repertoire, compatible to the viola/cello repertoire. I used it to improve tone and increase the length of bow strokes. The biggest reason why I teach French Folk Song is to further develop the concept of Finger Before the Bow.

Finger Before the Bow is a concept that reminds us to make sure the finger is placed on the string before the bow moves. This is necessary to 1) get the correct pitch 2) play that pitch in tune and 3) for proper left and right hand coordination.

In the Twinkles, children are given a great deal of time to think about and place their finger while playing the rhythm variations. When they reach Twinkle Theme they have less time to prepare the finger before the bow stroke. We only allow for one variation to teach the Finger Before Bow concept before moving to the remaining book 1 pieces- which all require a faster, more complicated version of Finger Before Bow.  I believe that we have two separate skills illustrating this concept in French Folk Song. 1) The Finger is placed and the the bow plays a few times on that same pitch. 2)  The finger is placed and we have only one bow stroke on that pitch. The second idea is the more difficult technical point. Twinkle Theme don’t give much of an opportunity to explore this. If we cut straight to lightly row, we not only have to develop this part of Finger Before Bow but we also need to deal with the subtle rhythm challenges presented in Lightly Row- which seams to be a lot in one piece.I do think there is a leap from Twinkles to Lightly row, and that gap is a great place for french folk song.

I do have students place fingers 1, 2 and 3 before they play the first A in measure 1.

One tough spot is the repeated A B C# pattern. You have to lift B and C# at the same time to get back to open A. Children forget that B is on the string and only lift the C#.

A lot of children have trouble when it comes to playing the repeated B C# D pattern. HINT: Keep the first finger (B) down for this whole section. After playing B C# D, lift C# and D TOGETHER….without lifting B.

We do have one very big problem when it comes to learning French Folk Song… There is no Suzuki Association approved recording for it in A Major. You can download the viola version, but it’s in D major. Here are the recordings I send to my students. They aren’t of studio quality- recorded in my pianist (Judy Weber) music room with my iphone. Hopefully, it will help fill the gap until we can get a studio quality recording completed.

Violin & Piano:

Piano only:

I’d also like to explain my artwork. I use the tune of French Folk Song in my Pre-Twinkle classes to teach the “Bunny Bow Hold”. Of course, this happens WAAYY before we learn French Folk song, but it’s related so I’ll mention it here. Many times the children forget to place the index and pinky on the bow. When both of those fingers are straight up in the air we joke that it looks like a llama instead of a floppy eared bunny.

Bunny Bow Hold Song

Bunny bow, bunny bow come out and play,

No llama, no llama please go away.

Bunny chin, bunny teeth, big floppy ears…

Bunny chin, bunny teeth, big floppy ears…

Don’t let your bunny turn into a llama!

My Teaching Points:

Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions.

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