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Anyone else on Suzuki Book 1?
I want to finally finish this book!
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RedViolin
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April 8, 2015 - 1:44 am
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After almost 2 decades away from the violin, having not gotten very far in the first place, I've set myself the challenge of finishing Suzuki Book 1. Is there anyone else with a similar goal in mind?

I've reserved Suzuki's Nurtured By Love from my library, as I'm interested in finding out more about this method which, I know, has aroused some controversy.

From what I can tell so far, the instruction I was exposed to in the past was Suzuki in some ways (obviously, we used the Suzuki books, and learning to play by following demonstrations (and hence, I guess, improving the ear?) rather than note-reading was prioritised). However, there were quite a few ways in which the instruction I had was un-Suzuki-like, if one can say such a thing! I did not have access to recordings of the pieces to listen to (didn't even know a CD/tape existed! Now, thanks to YouTube I have lots of samples), I started at around 11ish years of age, rather than younger (I'm in a much 'worse' position now :P) and my parents weren't involved at all (I guess I now have the advantage of an adult's motivation - my own).

Something which has surprised me in my online investigations of Suzuki education more recently has been the vast amount of colourful materials created for keeping kids motivated - charts and beads and so on for keeping track of practice repetitions, dice and jenga games and fortune tellers and spinners etc. for deciding what to practice next, etc. I had none of this as a kid, just the black and white pages of the Suzuki book with its very old photos. As juvenile as it may be, I plan on using some of these tactics to enhance my own practice!

Today I found over a dozen variations on the dreaded Twinkle (well, dreaded to me... when it's the only thing you can play it does get a bit stale!) which should spice up practice a bit... and which appear to introduce techniques needed for the later songs. So this should make it less of a mindless repetition each day, and more of a useful skill-building exercise.

Is anyone else using this (or any other) Suzuki book? I know it is intended for use by a team of teacher-parent-student, and it may be tricky to be my own teacher/parent, so I'm interested to hear how others have fared!

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absolutebeginner
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April 8, 2015 - 2:45 am
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Yes! I am trying to finish it too.:)

It is quite difficult for me to carry it out on my own.My instructor though skilled isn't familiar with the Western method of Violin playing(but his musical knowledge is very good),so I have to learn these on my own.

I started about 3-4 months ago and I am still trying to find the perfect positions for my left and right hands.So far I have only made it as far as Perpetual Motion in A major.(If my memory serves me correctly).

And I am just two decades old laugh .But still much like you I intend to use my adult's motivation for the job.

I wish you the best for your violin journey and hope I could join you at the finishing point too(if there were one).Your spirit as a lifelong learner is a true inspiration.

All the best! thumbs-up

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Schaick
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April 8, 2015 - 7:56 am
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I started this journey with the Suzuki Book 1 then .... I found bluegrass!!  Turns out Red wing and the Happy Farmer are very similar.   I have read Nurtured By Love.  It is a bit how I raised my kids!! 

I am working through the Brian Wicklund books.  It was not that much of a stretch moving to those books from the Suzuki, but there are only 2. http://www.fiddlepal.com/

I am thinking about maybe getting the Mark O'Connor books.  Has anyone used these?  And yes I know about the accusations and battle between Suzuki gang and O'Connor.  O'Connors books seem so interesting with the histories of the songs included.  Every week I attend jam I am blown away by the folks who know complete histories of the songs we play.  

Violinist start date -  May 2013  

Fiddler start date - May 2014

FIDDLE- Gift from a dear friend. A 1930-40 german copy, of a french copy of a Stradivarius.  BOW - $50 carbon fiber. Strings - Dominants with E Pirastro Gold string.

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mischa91
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April 8, 2015 - 1:27 pm
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Hi,

 

I am currently half way through suzuki book 2.  I didn't learn using the suzuki method as i originally learned to play about 15 years ago, however my new instructor (after a very long gap in my playing) teaches from the suzuki books.  We're not really doing all the exercises between the pieces of music, more just playing the pieces and she's giving me tips and things to improve on each lesson.  Along with these books i'm using an intermediate scale book and introducing the positions, third and fifth position.  

I never, even as a teenager had parental input, neither of my parents are even vaguely musical. My teacher was a school appointed one and not much help to be honest, i developed a lot of bad habits, but i can see how getting that student-parent-teacher triangle going would be helpful.  I also do like the sound of some of the motivational materials you mentioned, maybe making it more like a game will help you be more motivated, even adults can like games!

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Fiddlerman
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April 8, 2015 - 4:41 pm
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I haven't received any Q & A videos in a while so if anyone wants help on any particular Suzuki etude or piece just make a video for me and I'll most likely respond with a video reply. :)

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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RedViolin
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That's great, @absolutebeginner lovely to have someone to work through this with!

While I was at the library today, I also picked up "The Suzuki Violinist" which, while dated, has a wealth of information in it. Each song in the book (up to book 5) has its own section, with tips, things to check, photos of correct posture, rationale for why it is included there in the curriculum, etc. As an educator myself (although of language, not music!!) I really appreciate having this kind of information. In addition, I also borrowed a couple of etudes books designed to go with the Suzuki method (recommended to start at book 4, but the 1st position ones I will concentrate on can be used at the start of book 2). I didn't know these books existed either. Some of the exercises are specifically to improve left hand shape.

@Schaick, I've only just borrowed "Nurtured by Love" but have already found a great quote for adult learners like myself: 

"If our ability was not developed for us, we have to develop it ourselves" (ix)

Thanks for the link to the Fiddle Pal site. I've read a fair bit of the discourse between Mark O'Connor and the Suzuki method also. Inclusion of the history of songs is interesting - although I wonder how much I would understand of it? (I believe Mark's focus is on American music, and as an Australian, maybe it would go over my head?)

@mischa91 congratulations on getting up to halfway through book 2! It sounds like we've had a similar gap from playing, and similar experiences (I also had a school-appointed teacher, and while we used the Suzuki books, it was much more in the style that you mention). I'll post some of the game ideas I've come across separately :)

@Fiddlerman that sounds like a great idea!

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RedViolin
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April 8, 2015 - 8:57 pm
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Suzuki-Inspired (but also use for other/no methods) Practice Games/Gimmicks I have found:

Music Fortune Teller: http://www.cphmusic.net/2012/0.....eller.html (used here to review musical concepts, but I think you could also use this to write the names of songs in for 'random' revision sessions)

Spinners: http://musicnotesandtips.blogs.....nners.html (there are two: one for the different variations of Twinkle, and one for all the songs in the book. I've made a single one and can change the spinner arrow to the relevant side)

Dice: http://www.thepracticeshoppe.c.....ok-1a-dice (not too pricey if you live in the US, but if you live elsewhere like me, I think they could be easily made)

Cards: http://practicemakesiteasy.blo.....cards.html

Workout: http://practicemakesiteasy.blo.....k-out.html

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Ripton
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on my 3rd year in and I'm still stuck at Minuet 1... Lol.. I find the Old Time and Bluegrass more fun... bunny_pole_dancer

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Just4Fun
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Our library has very few violin books but they did have suzuki 1 and the CD, so I got them, played twinkle, skipped ahead, played Allegro (not well, but good enough to know I could do it), then decided to challenge myself to the final song, Gavotte.  I listened to it over and over until I could hum the tune without the cd and just this past weekend I spent an hour straight working on those darn 1/16th notes... then it all clicked. So now my daily routine is scales, Allegro, Gavotte, then I let myself play fun stuff (though at this point I am finding Gavotte fun!). I'm still not up to tempo, but the muscle memory is sinking in and I haven't looked at the sheet music in 4 days, it's all memorized. 

I sort  of hated Suzuki at first, finding it too stiff, but it's growing on me!

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RedViolin
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Lol @Ripton! That is exactly where I stalled too! I finished 12. Etude, but never managed 13. Minuet 1!

I spent some of today looking at Gavotte too, @Just4Fun - it's a good challenge to aim for, and I got excited about playing it after watching La Corda d'Oro

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Just4Fun
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@RedViolin that's a neat video, thanks for sharing!

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Schaick
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@Ripton  I hear ya!!  Not sure how Minuet 1 would go over in the jam I attend!!  I am learning so much through the Old Time and Bluegrass.  

I'm not sure I have enough room in my noggin' to remember the Suzuki tunes AND the Old Time and Bluegrass!!

Violinist start date -  May 2013  

Fiddler start date - May 2014

FIDDLE- Gift from a dear friend. A 1930-40 german copy, of a french copy of a Stradivarius.  BOW - $50 carbon fiber. Strings - Dominants with E Pirastro Gold string.

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RedViolin
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^_^ Glad you liked it @Ripton!

Day one of the 35 day challenge for me.

I've finished reading Suzuki's Nurtured by Love and most of The Suzuki Violinist (Which is subtitled "A guide for teachers and parents", but I found very useful for the self-teacher also, and there is a section at the back aimed at older students practicing without parental involvement).

I know not everyone has access to these books (or perhaps the time/inclination to read them!) so I thought I'd share a few bits I found interesting:

  • Suzuki tells the story of a little girl with infantile paralysis who could not play more than 2 notes of Twinkle without the bow flying out of her grip as her arm was seized by a violent twitch. (NBL) This made me re-think my frustrations with my own control and age, and I was impressed at her perseverance (and that of her teacher & parents)
  • I was interested to see that Suzuki didn't administer tests to students before they were admitted to his training. (NBL) (One of the reasons I didn't start my musical education earlier was because I wasn't among the chosen few in my class who did well in a test - apparently I didn't have a 'musical ear'. Interestingly, to the best of my knowledge, those who were selected didn't choose to continue their musical studies. When I was finally admitted, I was recommended to play a cello, but as there weren't enough, ended up with the violin)
  • In one of the more autobiographical parts of the book (it's a kind of memoir/philosophical book) Suzuki says "I heard the concerts of great musicians that only discouraged me more... "What a pity! Without talent, trying so hard, every day - it's not worth it," I told myself... This kind of feeling more or less affects every young person [Suzuki himself started violin study at 17 it seems]... But instead of living such a sad life without hope, they should begin by saying, "Talent is not inborn, it has to be created."" (pp. 37-38, NBL)
  • I learned that the violin and s[h]amisen have a common anscestor, the ra[v]anostron! (NBL)This was of interest to me, as one of my friends plays the shamisen, and one of my current goals is to learn to play Sakura together!
  • Suzuki's best students practiced for three hours a day or more (NBL)
  • Suzuki asked students questions like "How many legs have you?" while they were playing Twinkle, to see how easily and freely they could do it. (NBL) I might ask my very patient husband to do the same for me!
  • One of Suzuki's dreams was apparently for the world to finally live up to the Children's Charter which states that all children must be cared for. (NBL) I found this particularly interesting (and disheartening) given the recent UN announcement.
  • Starr reports that Suzuki asked his students to give a 'home concert' for their parents once a week. (TSV) I think this is a great idea, and once again, my lovely husband has agreed to listen to me play.
  • Starr also says that when his children studied in Matsumoto, they participated in bi-monthly groups. (TSV)
  • It is intended that the teacher/student find short excerpts to practice instead of prescribed exercises. (TSV)
  • One Suzuki mother marked passages in other than first position with coloured pencils. (TSV)
  • Pieces in the early books are generally in A maj, D maj & G maj. (TSV)
  • Suzuki used foot papers to encourage good posture (TSV) - somewhat like this. Sometimes, students would be asked to raise their right foot off the ground to emphasise the necessity of placing weight on the left.
  • Suzuki/Starr recommends standing to your full height, exhaling a tiny bit, and stopping your breath to 'centre' yourself. (TSV)

To my delight, The Suzuki Violinist has a whole section which goes through the books piece by piece, providing guidance and exercises for each song. I'll be following this closely over the next month or so, especially as I get to the pieces I have never tackled before (the 3 Minuets, the Happy Farmer, and Gavotte). Here are some more tips I found about structuring study of the pieces:

  • The Suzuki method is a 'pyramid approach' where, for example, Suzuki keeps the beginner playing the Twinkle variations daily until the completion of Perpetual Motion. (TSV)
  • Twinkle can be practiced on the D string also, and the difficult group of 8x 16tth notes in Gavotte can be practiced in advance, e.g. 2-3 pieces before studying the entire piece. (TSV)
  • Starr recommends Chorus from Judas Maccabeus in Book 2, and Gounod's Ave Maria as a supplementary piece, for vibrato (TSV)

I hope some of these points are useful for others too :)

For me, all I'm concentrating on today is "Exercise for Proper E-String Posture" and "Exercise for Changing Strings". It's a good thing I'm not doing anything more complex, as I need to buy a new 9v battery for my violin! >_<

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pky
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There were quite a bit of discussion on Suzuki method and I had posted some, too. Our teacher uses Suzuki books and I would say she is somewhat 90% Suzuki:) My daughter is in book 4. I started learning along when my daughter started to take lessons - doing some songs from Suzuki book 1, some from May Bel, and some by ears. After six months or so I hit the bottle neck and struggled, after a year or so I began to take lessons. I went through book 1 and 3/4 of book 2 and change direction to another book and to play songs that I like. Now I decided to go back and finish book 2 (and it seems easier).

One thing I like about Suzuki (actually it will work for any method if you could get CDs or find the songs on youtube or other CDs) is that you listen to the CDs so much that you could hum the pieces and when you play it comes naturally. I am especially lucky since my daughter is ahead of me so I am not only listening to the CDs but also my daughter's playing; by the time I start to play a piece, I already am very familiar with that piece and only need to focus on the techniques. In addition, when I listen to it so much, memorizing pieces that I play also become easier than when I am learning an unfamiliar piece.

With children's learning, I see big differences between having parental involvement and without parental involvement. Parental involvement does not just mean having a parent sit in the class with the child, it also means having a parent guide and help the child focus when reviewing what the child learn from his/her teacher during lesson time. Even just having a parent sit there to listen to the child is a great motivation for him/her.

I am not against any method and I believe each method is developed with rationale behind it.  

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RedViolin
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Thanks @pky. I must admit I find the search function a bit hit-and-miss on the forums, so wasn't sure how much previous discussion of the Suzuki method there had been.

I agree completely about the recordings - it is really helpful. I recently worked my way through Strictly Strings book 1, which I found far more useful for its explanations, but I had much more difficulty finding recordings to go with it.

I've found a way to make recordings of the pieces I'm working on, and then review them. It's been really helpful, as I've been able to pick up mistakes I didn't even realise I was making at the time! But I've also discovered, upon playing the recordings back (yesterday's was "Lightly Row"), I don't sound as awful as I thought! violin-1260

Today my challenge is "Song of the Wind".

Here's my schedule (mainly for my own memory!) with extra preparation built in for the few songs I've never tackled before (the Minuets, The Happy Farmer & Gavotte):

  1. Exercise for proper E-string posture & Exercise for changing strings (p. 12)
  2. Exercises for quick placement of fingers (p. 13)
  3. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star A (p. 14)
  4. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star other variations (p. 15)
  5. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star theme (p. 15)
  6. Lightly Row (p. 16), start practicing "Down-Up Twinkle" in preparation for Minuet 1
  7. Song of the Wind (p. 16)
  8. Go Tell Aunt Rhody (p. 17)
  9. O Come Little Children (p. 17)
  10. Tonalization (p. 18)
  11. May Song (p. 19)
  12. Long, Long Ago (p. 19)
  13. Allegro (p. 20)
  14. Perpetual Motion (p. 21)
  15. Perpetual Motion variation A (p. 21)
  16. Perpetual Motion variation B (p. 21), can stop reviewing all variations of Twinkle each day here
  17. Exercises for the 4th Finger (p. 22)
  18. Tonalization (p. 22)
  19. D maj scale (p. 22), D string variations of Twinkle
  20. Perpetual Motion in D maj (p. 23)
  21. Perpetual Motion in D maj variation (p. 23)
  22. Allegretto (p. 23)
  23. Andantino (p. 24)
  24. Tonalization (p. 24)
  25. G maj scale (p. 25)
  26. Etude (p. 25)
  27. Etude variation (p. 25)
  28. Minuet 1 (p. 26), start practicing "Hooked Bow Twinkle" in preparation for The Happy Farmer
  29. Minuet 2 (p. 27), start practicing sixteenth note (p. 31) in preparation for Gavotte
  30. Minuet 3 (p. 28)
  31. The Happy Farmer (p. 29)
  32. Gavotte (p. 30)

Each practice session also contains the scales I learned from Strictly Strings and Fiddlerman's beginners etudes to warm up, as well as some of the first position etudes from Suzuki's Position Etudes and Quint Etudes as a challenge at the end. I find these are what are really making my left hand ache!

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RedViolin
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April 25, 2015 - 5:30 am
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I just found an interesting combination of the Suzuki and O'Connor repertoires: http://www.revisemysite.com/pd.....Suzuki.pdf

I was particularly interested by her listing of Etude (where I got stuck!) and Gavotte as difficult.

And videos to go along with its: https://www.youtube.com/user/DoreeHuneven/videos

I think I might have a go at supplementing some of Suzuki book 1 with these pieces - the few that I know anyway, as a non-American...! 🙂

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Schaick
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April 25, 2015 - 7:47 am
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@ RedViolin Oh thank you, very cool!!

Violinist start date -  May 2013  

Fiddler start date - May 2014

FIDDLE- Gift from a dear friend. A 1930-40 german copy, of a french copy of a Stradivarius.  BOW - $50 carbon fiber. Strings - Dominants with E Pirastro Gold string.

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pky
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RedViolin said 

I was particularly interested by her listing of Etude (where I got stuck!) and Gavotte as difficult.
 

I posted in another thread that my violin teacher teaches the Gavotte after her students are done with the first two song (or one?) in Suzuki book two because of its difficulty level.

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RedViolin
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April 26, 2015 - 2:22 am
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No worries @Schaick glad you found it of use!

I've actually just gone through the beginner pieces here: http://fiddlerman.com/studies-.....and-music/ and realised that you could learn a fair chunk of the early recommended songs from that list using the sheet music available on Fiddlerman:

  1. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  2. Oh! Susanna
  3. Lightly Row
  4. Go Tell Aunt Rhody
  5. Amazing Grace

I'll add these to my list above, again, largely for my own reference! 🙂

<Edited to add: Oh, it looks like I can only edit my most recent post, so I'll add an abridged version below>

@pky, that's interesting. I guess a few teachers must do the same thing. I'm starting my preparation for the difficult parts of Gavotte, as even though I find it tricky, I have it in my head as a kind of end-goal now. But it's good to know that it's not just me, that it is recognised as a step up from the other pieces in book 1!

<Added: pieces from Suzuki with some supplements, abridged version:>

  1. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star A (p. 14) followed by other variations and theme (p. 15) [Fiddlerman sheet music here
  2. [Insert: Oh! Susanna from MOC, Fiddlerman sheet music here]
  3. Lightly Row (p. 16) [Fiddlerman sheet music here], start practicing "Down-Up Twinkle" in preparation for Minuet 1
  4. Song of the Wind (p. 16)
  5. Go Tell Aunt Rhody (p. 17) [Fiddlerman sheet music here]
  6. O Come Little Children (p. 17)
  7. May Song (p. 19)
  8. Long, Long Ago (p. 19) [Fiddlerman sheet music here]
  9. Allegro (p. 20)
  10. [Insert: Amazing Grace from MOC, Fiddlerman sheet music here]
  11. Perpetual Motion (p. 21), variations A & B (p. 21), can stop reviewing all variations of Twinkle each day here
  12. Perpetual Motion in D maj (p. 23) & variation
  13. Allegretto (p. 23)
  14. Andantino (p. 24)
  15. Etude (p. 25) & variation
  16. Minuet 1 (p. 26), start practicing "Hooked Bow Twinkle" in preparation for The Happy Farmer
  17. Minuet 2 (p. 27), start practicing sixteenth note (p. 31) in preparation for Gavotte
  18. Minuet 3 (p. 28)
  19. The Happy Farmer (p. 29)
  20. Gavotte (p. 30)
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RedViolin
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Now that I've finished the book, I'm going back through it for revision. Just thought I'd share this practice chart I found on Pinterest for anyone doing the same: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/3d/7d/ac/3d7dac69800f27ae6710ef14ff79dcf7.jpg treble-1226

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