How I Use the 100s Chart

Dr. Suzuki is reported to have said that he could tell the quality of player you are by how well they play Twinkle.

100s Chart Stickers.png

Playing Twinkle is the first major milestone in Suzuki. But the goal is not to play it one time and forget it. Repetition builds stamina, muscle memory, and practice discipline.

The purpose of the 100s Chart is to play Twinkle one hundred times. I got this idea from Edmund Sprunger and have used it with every student who starts from scratch.

Specifically, this is how it works for playing violin:

  1. Student learns to play Twinkle and Variations. (It is recommended to start with the Twinkle Variation rhythms on open strings first (see the Twinkle Cards).

  2. Once the student can play Twinkle satisfactorily, I hand out the 100s Chart.

  3. Each time the student plays Twinkle in any rhythm, they get to put a sticker, smiley face, or mark into a box.

  4. Students take the 100s Chart home and bring it back to each lesson. (I usually write “100s Chart” on their Practice Sheet, or ask the practice parent to write this down when taking notes.)

  5. Check back in each lesson to the progress. Play through the variations again in a lesson, fill out more of the chart together, and encourage the student that it won’t take long to get to 100.

As they are filling out the chart I begin asking them to play two rhythms in a row (two complete Twinkle Variations), then do three in a row, and so on. To graduate Twinkle, I have students fill out the 100s Chart and be able to play all the rhythms plus theme back-to-back without stopping.

Students often ask for another chart after they complete one.

Playing Twinkle over and over helps with memorization, ease and fluency of technique, and it serves as basic repertoire to build on. The sense of accomplishment they have at the end of this process is profound, and guarantees a new level of dedication as you move into the next pieces in Book One.

Download the free 100s chart here.

How I Use The Finger Charts

If there was one tool that I could get everyone to try...

It would be the finger charts. If you don't have time to download anything else, get that one. 

Just go to  and enter password: suzuki.

The reason is, they are tested in actual lessons and they continue to get consistent results. I have been using and testing them for a few years and they ALWAYS work.

How do they work? The finger charts tell kids which finger number (1, 2, or 3) to place on which string (A or E) for Twinkle and the first half of Suzuki Book One. (You'll see a small letter A or E above the fingerings to designate the string.)

I use them as soon as a student is ready to learn Twinkle, has learned where the tapes are, and has done a week or two of initial practice on Hello 1 -2 -3 and Monkey Song. (All of this is covered in Practice Tip #17 - Find The Right Address.) 

I found that with the finger charts, learning and memorization of these pieces goes faster with less frustration at home, AND they function as a pre-note reading exercise. Little eyes have a hard time reading a music staff, but they CAN read large numbers and letters.

I'm always careful to explain that the reason we use finger charts is not to need them anymore! As soon as possible we turn away from the charts and play from memory. (Later we will do the same thing with actual notes.)

Coupled with listening and memory work, the finger charts are just enough of a prompt to enable students to move forward. They create frustration-free practicing, because they gives beginning parents and kids an understandable system to use.

There are two sets of charts, and each comes with a set of instructions on how to use them. You can get them here:   Just go to  and enter password: suzuki.


If you have used the finger charts, please add a comment here. Your honest feedback helps everyone understand how to use the tools more effectively.

How to Beat Performance Anxiety

We have all felt it.

The dry mouth, the shaking hands, the sudden loss of words. Performance anxiety is no fun. And when it comes to music, performance anxiety can kill good musical expression.

Here are five ways I've found that lessen performance anxiety:

  1. Adequate practice.  A "polished piece" is one that has been mastered to a level that can be played with ease. Sometimes this takes weeks, and sometimes months! Depending on the level of difficulty, you may need more practice to get to a level of polish than you first think. Remember, learning the notes is only half way.
  2. Plenty of rehearsal. A rule of thumb I have started to follow is to formally rehearse the piece twice as much as I initially think necessary. That includes scheduling extra time if needed with an accompanist (I say "no" to the performance if this is not possible), and playing through it at least twice in the space I am going to perform in.
  3. Memorization. Reading notes that are not well internalized is a distraction when performing. Over-reliance on note reading is a sure way to destroy good musical playing, because the brain is engaged in reading rather than expressing. Sheet music can be used as a safety net for a performance, after memorization has taken place, but only as a prompt for the real purpose, music-making.
  4. Routine. Do everything the same way as you set up, each time you play and rehearse. This applies to everything from checking your tuning to the initial placement of your bow.
  5. Take your time. When getting set, take time to play the beginning mentally, get back in touch with what you are trying to do musically. Breathe, allow your body to settle as much as possible.

Dealing with fear is another aspect of the process that I'll cover in future posts. But if you'll do these five things consistently, your performances will go better and you'll feel less nervous.

You can conquer the fear of performing. Remember, the more you do it, the easier it gets, and if you take the right intentional steps, you will get there.

Violin Angst