Category Archives: Articles

Humperdinck: Evening Prayer

To all members of the International Suzuki Teachers Exchange,
the German Suzuki Association,

our friends, colleagues and supporters!

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2015

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Engelbert Humperdinck (1854-1921)

MP3: Evening Prayer
Music: From the opera “Hansel und Gretel”

FREE DOWNLOAD MP3 &
Sheet Music with Arrangements for 2 Violins and Piano or Organ

by Kerstin Wartberg

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Rudolf Gaehler & Kerstin Wartberg, Violins
Tobias Kunst, Organ

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The scene develops as follows:
While the two children sing their evening prayer, fourteen angels appear onstage in light flowing robes. Hansel and Gretel fall asleep peacefully as a golden rain descends from heaven.
Before the curtain slowly closes, a delicate postlude is played by the orchestra,
which is played here by the organ.

 Evening Prayer
When at night I go to sleep,
Fourteen angels watch do keep,
Two my head are guarding,
Two my feet are guiding;
Two upon my right hand,
Two upon my left hand.
Two who warmly cover
Two who o’er me hover,
Two to whom ’tis given
To guide my steps to heaven.
Sleeping sofly, then it seems
Heaven enters in my dreams;
Angels hover round me,
Whisp’ring they have found me;
Two are sweetly singing,
Two are garlands bringing,
Strewing me with roses
As my soul reposes.
God will not forsake me
When dawn at last will wake me.
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Helen Hines: 6th European Suzuki Teachers Convention in Germany – PART 2

Simon Fischer Teaching Children  

Simon+KinderOn Sunday 2nd November 2014, the 6th European Suzuki Exchange Conference in Remscheid, Germany, welcomed Simon Fischer for the second year in a row.
The renowned pedagogue worked with six violin students from Germany and Switzerland in two masterclass sessions. The students played pieces including the Introduction and Polonaise from Arabesken, No. 12 by Carl Bohm, Violin Concerto No.3 by Saint-Saens, and the Double Violin Concerto in D minor for two violins by Bach.

 

Simon’s cheerful nature came across whilst working with the students, as he challenged each of them to strive to reach their full potential. Simon’s advice to students and teachers alike covered varying pedagogical topics, but much of his advice fell into three broad categories. Simon discussed the importance of the freedom of movement whilst playing, as well as covering technical issues of the left and right hands. Whilst he was careful to place great emphasis on the importance of instilling technique, he also discussed the importance of working with and for the music, rather than working for the technique.

The Importance of the Freedom of Movement

Fischer_Kerstin_Justus_klSimon was keen to stress that movement is a required part of playing the violin as it aids tone production and releases tension from the body, preventing aches and pains. To assist in the release of tension, Simon suggested that the students made sure they were ‘humans and not aliens!’ He encouraged them to jump up and down whilst bending their knees on landing, then keeping their knees soft when playing. He explained that every part of the body is connected and needs to work in harmony, just like the thumb and fourth finger on the bow needs to work together.

Fischer_mit_Justus_2_klHowever, whilst subtle body movement is encouraged, Simon warned that intense body movements could distract from the sound, particularly if the violin slants forward rather than staying upright and balanced on the performer’s shoulder.
Simon encouraged the young violinists to engage in suitable movement whilst performing, explaining that many successful solo artists may move around the stage during a performance, but their bodies will move around the violin, which remains relatively still.

Many successful solo artists also bring their bow to the violin rather than taking their violin to the bow, which further assists in fighting the natural tendency to give into the force of gravity. Simon encouraged all teachers to see their students through this lens, and to consider that performers raise their scrolls slightly at the apex of a melody stating ‘you need to go up when you go up’, rather than tipping the scroll and inevitably the violin, in a downwards motion.

In order to assist teachers with the teaching of their own students, Simon suggested that students would need to practise the freedom of movement in isolated sections of their pieces, either resting their scroll on a music stand or shelf protected by a cloth, or with the teacher holding the scroll whilst the student plays. This will provide the student with the experience of performing whilst the violin remains relatively still, which can help counteract the natural tendencies of the student to pull the violin downwards.

This effect that gravity has, pushing down on you while you are wanting to keep your arms, violin and bow up in the air, and how you react to it, is the first factor to consider in the whole subject of good posture and freedom from aches and pains (Fischer, 2013, p. 164).

Unbenannt-1Simon referred to an interesting paradoxical formula that highlights the delicate balance of movement required by the performer ‘if you can see it, it is too much. If you can’t see it, it is not enough!’.

Further information on the importance of keeping the knees soft whilst playing is available in ‘The Violin Lesson’ (Fischer, 2013, p. 195), and also in Paul Rolland’s book ‘The Teaching of Action in String Playing’ (Rolland, 2000, p. 30), Galamian’s ‘Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching’ (Galamian, 1985, p. 12–13), and Carl Flesch’s book ‘The Art of Violin Playing: Book 2’ (Flesch, 2008, pp. 92–96).

 

Left and Right Hand Techniques

Simon addressed a number of fundamental techniques that are paramount to a student’s success.

Technique is the ability to direct mentally and to execute physically all of the necessary playing movements of left and right hands, arms, and fingers… In short, it is the complete mastery over all of the potentialities of the instrument (Galamian, 1985, p. 5).

The following points are highlights from the discussion on left and right hand technique within violin playing:

Bow Hand Finger Placement:
Simon explained that in violin playing, there are no straight lines. The bridge is curved, the stick of the bow is curved, and the bow curves around the strings. The same advice applies to bow circles and spiccato (no straight lines, only curves,) and also to the fingers of the bow hand where straight fingers should not exist.

A common fault of the student bow hand is to protrude the pad of the flat thumb pad through the frog of the bow, resulting in a straight thumb and fourth finger. For an interesting case study on this issue, see Simon Fischer’s book ‘The Violin Lesson’ (Fischer, 2013, p. xxiii). Simon’s response to this common fault is to think of the bow as a touch pad, like a mobile phone. Each finger has a placement on the bow and must touch it’s ‘button’. The fourth finger is set on top of the outer edge of the bow, and the third finger has a button between the eye and the curve of the frog. Another button sits on the top and side of the stick for the first finger, with the second finger having no button as it just rests where it falls. Simon talks more about the bow hold in his book ‘The Violin Lesson’ (Fischer, 2013, p. 38), and ‘Basics’ (Fischer, 2008, p. 1).

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geigengymnastik-1Simon advised that in order to play at the heel and under the fingers of the bow (stating that ‘you pay for all the hair on your bow – you should use it!’), the bow hold must be balanced and relaxed. In order to ensure a balanced and relaxed bow hold, Simon recommended bow hand stability and strength exercises very similar to the violin gymnastic exercises illustrated in Kerstin Wartberg’s Step by Step – Introduction to successful practice: Volume 2A (Wartberg, 2006, p. 8).

Left Thumb Placement:
With regards to the left hand setup on the violin, Simon explained that the key to relaxed playing was freeing tension, starting with the thumb. Simon urged his audience to consider that the base knuckle joint in the thumb is much lower that most people think, and therefore, relaxation of the thumb needs to start at the muscles close to the wrist joint and ball of the thumb (thenar eminence).

FischerSimon suggested that a 1-minute wrist massage before playing might be hugely beneficial (Fischer, 2013, p. 184), although care needs to be taken to prevent damage to the soft tissues.
However, discovering how to release tension in the hand and wrist is immensely important in the quest for tension free playing, and further discussions on the benefits of the freedom of the left hand can be found in ‘The Violin Lesson’ (Fischer, 2013, p. 181).

Left Thumb Rotation:
Simon proposed that teachers consider thumb rotation (clockwise or anticlockwise) as well as the forwards and backwards position of the thumb, and explained that the considerable benefit of relaxation can be gained by the frequent rotation of the thumb during playing (just for a few seconds), to make sure it is tension free. Suggested exercises for thumb position and independence can be found in Simon’s book ‘Basics’ (Fischer, 2008, pp. 89–91).

Left Hand Fingers Moving from the Base Knuckle Joints:
Fischer_Zeigefinger_2For ease and efficiency, it is good practice to train the fingers on the left hand to move from their base knuckle joints. However, when doing so, care must be taken to ensure that the shape of the first finger on and off the string does not change. In his book ‘The Violin Lesson’ (Fischer, 2013, p. 187), Simon discusses a number of tapping exercises that can assist in the student in developing the appropriate finger action technique. Further discussions on the importance of moving the left hand fingers from their base knuckle joints can be found in Galamian’s book ‘Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching’ (Galamian, 1985, p. 18).

Left Elbow Placement:
Basics_D_U1When referring to the correct placement of the left elbow, Simon connected the elbow placement to the base knuckle joints of the fingers. He suggested that when playing on the E string, the left elbow would need to swing more to the left, with the base knuckle joints of the fingers near to the level of the fingerboard. In contrast, when playing on the G string, the left elbow needs to swing more towards the right (under the violin), and the base knuckle joints of the left hand will be higher than the level of the fingerboard (Fischer, 2008, p. 108).

In order to demonstrate the feeling of this with a student, Simon advocated engaging in left hand pizzicato using the 4th finger to pluck the E string, then swinging the elbow under the violin in order to find the correct elbow position and finger placement to pluck the G string. This feeling should then be repeated whilst bowing (arco), challenging the elbow and left hand fingers to make the same placements as per the pizzicato exercise.

Violin Hold:
Simon explained that over the course of his teaching career, he has come almost full circle on what he considers to be the most ideal violin hold position. After many years of study in the area, he now believes that a violinist should adopt a violin hold that allows the violin to remain as flat as possible, in order to prevent the loss of natural bow weight on the E string. However, he does suggest slanting the violin slightly for the bow to gain better access to the G string, preventing bowing fatigue that might occur if the violin position is too flat.

 

 

The reason for adopting the flatter violin position is that the sound projects better. It also provides the performer with a different bow arm where everything feels different. Although the same muscles are used, they are used in different proportions, which result in the provision of superior bow arm motion.
Fischer_mit_Justus_1_klFor further discussion on the importance of the violin position, see ‘The Violin Lesson’ (Fischer, 2013, p. 27), ’The Teaching of Action in String Playing’ (Rolland, 2000, pp. 73-74) and ‘The Principles of Violin Teaching’ (Galamian, 1985, p. 13).

 

The Importance of Musicianship over Technique
Throughout the masterclass, Simon stressed the importance of being a musician first and foremost, and ‘then being a musician!’ Simon was emphasising the importance of making sure the primary aim of a violinist was to deliver the musical result, whilst employing the necessary technique required to support their musicality. This is contrary to the belief that many students have that their bow hand and bow arm is what makes the magic happen on the violin.

Simon suggested that the violinist starts from the musical result they want to achieve, and then works back towards the technique required to maintain the musical result. Therefore, what happens on the violin should be as a result of the music, and not the cause of the music. This means that attention must be paid to the form of the bow hand (the physical appearance), but it’s function (the way it works) comes directly from the music. Here, Simon was putting across his viewpoint on the age-old argument of balancing the teaching of technique and musicality, which has been debated by pedagogues as far back as Leopold Mozart in 1756 (Mozart, 1951).

Simon also applied the same idea to shifting, where he explained that the first rule of shifting is that there should be no musical concept of shifting. The shift is just a mechanism that the student gets for free when they work on the music rather than the technique. However, once they own the mechanism, the student will need to practise it repeatedly in order for it to be accurate, automatic, and readily available to employ in their future repertoire.

Simons key message was that ‘we do not play the technique, but the music requires the technique’. When applied to the bow hand, it means that ‘the bow hand supports the bow, but does not control it’.

_fischer+wartberg_kl 

Words of Wisdom
Throughout the masterclass, Simon made reference to some useful words of wisdom that are worth noting:

  • Sometimes you do not need to practise something over and over until you get it right. You just need to listen, understand it, then do it, which cuts out a lot of mindless practise time. ‘You need to listen, then do. This idea stresses the importance of an organised mind before embarking on practise. Simon talks more about this concept and other practise ideas in ‘The Violin Lesson’ (Fischer, 2013, p. 326).
  • Simon’s key to success in his own teaching is that he has a talent for seeing how a student could play in the future. This is a constant theme he employs for all of his students, and encourages all teachers to adopt a similar strategy, as developing a vision for every student is a hugely beneficial tool for clearing the mind and prioritising teaching.

     

  • If the student does exactly as they are told, when they are told to do it, they could do anything. This is a key concept that could be developed by teachers relating to their own students, although it may be a very difficult strategy to implement!

Homepage_Fischer.indd

Simon made numerous references to Galamian during the masterclass, and suggested that all violin teachers should be familiar with the fundamental work ‘The Principles of Violin Teaching’ (Galamian, 1985), as well as Leopold Mozart’s 1756 book ‘A Treatise on the Fundamental Principles of Violin Playing’ (Mozart, 1951), in which a number of Simon’s ideas are also corroborated. Simon also made a reference to Dorothy DeLay as the source of inspiration for the less-more-most concept of expressive playing. An interesting insight into Dorothy DeLay’s life and teaching can be read in ‘Teaching Genius’ (Sand, 2005).

Fischer+Great thanks are offered to Simon Fischer and the teachers and students involved in the masterclass. They proved to be a great inspiration for teachers and students alike, and the information provided will continue to help teachers and their students for years to come.

 

References

Fischer, S. (2013) The Violin Lesson: A Manual for Teaching and Self-teaching the Violin. London: Peters Edition Limited.
Fischer, S. (2012a) Scales: Scales and Scale Studies for the Violin. London: Peters Edition Limited.
Fischer, S. (2012b) Tone: Experimenting with Proportions on the Violin. London: Fitzroy Music Press.
Fischer, S. (2008) Basics. 300 Exercises and Practice Routines for the Violin. London: Peters Edition Limited.
Fischer, S. (2004) Practice. 250 Step-by-step Practice Methods for the Violin. London: Peters Edition Limited.
Flesch, C. (2008) The Art of Violin Playing Book 2. USA: Fischer.
Galamian, I. (1985) Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching. London: Prentice-Hall International.
Mozart, L. (1951) A Treatise on the Fundamental Principles of Violin Playing. London: Oxford University Press.
Rolland, P. (2000) The Teaching of Action in String Playing. USA: American String Teachers Association.
Sand, B. (2005) Teaching Genius – Dorothy DeLay and the Making of a Musician. New Jersey, USA: Amadeus Press.
Wartberg, K. (2014) Basics for Young Violinists – Test Version for 6th Suzuki Teachers’ Exchange Convention in Germany. German Suzuki Institute
Wartberg, K. (2006) Step by Step – An Introduction to Successful Practice: Volume 2A. USA: Alfred Publishing.

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Helen_kl


Helen Hines
Studio Director of ‘Violin with Helen’ in Reading, United Kingdom

Education

Helen holds an MA in Instrumental Teaching from the University of Reading (where she graduated with distinction), and violin teaching diplomas from Trinity College London (ATCL), and the Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music (DipABRSM).

Website
www.violinwithhelen.co.uk

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Conference report – PART 1
http://suzukiteachingideas.germansuzuki.com/?p=1201

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7th European Suzuki Teachers Convention in Germany
30 October – 2 November 2015

We hope to meet you all again for next year’s Conference, and extend an invitation to all violin, viola and cello teacher of the worldwide Suzuki community.

EVERYBODY is WELCOME!

 

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Thank_you_kl

 

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Heidi Curatolo: 6th European Suzuki Teachers Convention in Germany – PART 1

Heidi3Greetings to the worldwide

Suzuki Community!

My name is Heidi Curatolo and I would like to share with you my experiences at The 6th European Suzuki Teachers Convention held in Remscheid, Germany in November of 2014. The event brought together more than 150 European, North American, and African Suzuki teachers, from 22 countries to work together, to learn from each other and to exchange. This was my second time attending this Conference, which was organized by the German Suzuki Institute, the teacher-training department of the German Suzuki Association, and led by vio­linist and Suzuki pedagogue, Kerstin Wartberg.

It was very exciting to be reunited with old-friends, and to meet many new members of this international community. The organization of the conference was pristine, and our venue the Akadamie Remschied was once again a perfect setting – with comfortable rooms, delicious meals, a peaceful and beautiful landscape, and charming afternoon tea and desserts. I experienced a wonderful and open atmosphere, and greatly enjoyed meeting teachers who are deeply interested in their professional development and support one another in their quest for excellence and community.

The convention was divided into four sections:

  • Course A: BASICS for Young Violinists – Exploring intermediate techniques for the developing violinist (Intensive Course for Suzuki Violin Teachers)

RS_Titel_farbig_klThis course was a sneak preview of Kerstin Wartberg’s next publication from Edition Peters, based on the teachings of Simon Fischer and Shinichi Suzuki. Each course participant received a booklet containing excerpts of this upcoming publication, and a link to download the piano accompaniments by David Andruss. As a wonderful treat, we had David there in person to accompany the participants as we studied several areas of violin technique in different sessions led by Kerstin Wartberg and teachers that have worked closely with her, including Olga Bereznizkaya, Charles Krigbaum, Isabel Morey Suau, Mike Hoover, Kathrin Averdung and Agathe Jerie.

  • The Main Conference which featured two masterclasses with internationally renowned pedagogue Simon Fischer.
  • Course C: Goals for the First Year (Intensive Course for Suzuki Violin Teachers)
  • Course D: Intensive Course for Suzuki Cello Teachers with faculty members Anders Grøn, Denmark & Carol Bez, Switzerland

I attended Course A, the Main Conference, and the C Course. I would like to share with you now some of the highlights of my experience in Course A, to share some of our course materials, and to show you some videos of our work in Remscheid.

The A Course began with Olga Bereznizkaya’s lesson, which focused on the study of three octave scales and arpeggios. We began our studies with the A Major scale and examined the fundamental techniques for scale study. Olga stressed the following skills: Olga

  • Vertical placement of the left hand thumb until about 4th or 5th position when it becomes horizontal
  • The overlapping of the 1st and 4th fingers
  • The height of the strings (scroll) and its role in shifting
  • Leaving fingers down
  • Think of fingers on fingerboard during shift as harmonic glissandos.
  • Inner hearing or audiation of the note you are arriving to prior to getting there is crucial to shifting in tune.
  • Often children shift too fast and overshoot the note. Practice slow shifting and the speed of shifting.
  • Practice in little steps. Be sure to master each step before continuing on to the next step.
  • Listen for sound quality: watch bow speed, contact point, and pressure.
  • Change the contact point as you progress through the positions. As you go higher, move closer to the bridge and don’t press so much, otherwise the string will not be able to ring as much as it can.

We studied the C Major scale with rests between each note to develop fast finger preparation. This is Dr. Suzuki’s motto: “Finger, Bow, GO!” It is important to have rhythmically controlled playing. If we have all of these skills in place, the goal is to repeat an exercise until you can play it with great ease, and it doesn’t require as much energy to play.

Olga instructed us that as you repeat the scale, play it quicker and quicker (for example, the quarter note equals 80, then 100, then 120.) Continue to increase speed—only if the quality is really there. She also stressed that it is important to play musically with phrasing and feeling, even if you’re playing a technical exercise like a scale. Technique and phrasing become more secure if you practice in this manner.

She concluded her session by reminding teachers to bring musical feeling and inspiration into their technical exercises. She suggested that during each group lesson (Books 4 and up) children could play these scale exercises with the piano accompaniment of David Andruss to experience both a technical and musical warm-up.

Kerstin Wartberg presented the next session, “Improving Basic Aims: Intonation, Sound, Rhythm and Ease.”
In this class we studied a Perfect-fourth song. Kerstin says that the 1st and 4th fingers are especially important for a good left-hand position. As we played the exercise we were asked to pay attention to two particular points:

1. Always place the 3rd and 4th fingers on the string together as a block, with the correct spacing between them (in this case, a half-step.) Likewise, lift these two fingers together when you remove them from the string.
___Quart1, 215_kl

2. Prepare the left arm for the string crossing with a slight swinging of the elbow.
At first only the German teachers played this exercise while the rest of us performed on the “magic violin.” Soon after, we all switched and took turns. As a coaching, Kerstin reminded us that if the bow arm is relaxed, the violin arm will become more relaxed.
Alexandria_kl

We next studied an important intonation exercise for establishing the correct distances between fingers in different positions and using three different finger patterns. We played this exercise in 1st through 6th position, setting the fingers together to feel the shape of the hand frame.

Next it was time for a short break, and the participants all headed to the Dining Hall for coffee, tea, and a wonderful array of desserts. The conversation was lively and friendly and it was clear that many everyone was pleased to meet one another and connect with new colleagues.

The next “basic” we examined was the study of vibrato, in a very detailed session (Teaching Vibrato to Children) with Charles Krigbaum and Kerstin Wartberg presenting together.

In this session (which was part one of a two part lecture), Charles stated that vibrato is a fundamental technique in violin playing that enhances a beautiful tone quality and is a key element in creating musical style.

Charles_024_klTeaching vibrato to children requires preparation, repetition of vibrato exercises, assistance from the parents, and integration into the repertoire. This session included methods of teaching the most critical exercises, films of student demonstrations from Charles’ studio, and guidelines and principles for teaching vibrato from the Book 2 to Book 4 level.
Charles_009_klBelow you can download a copy of the handouts from their class and examine some ideas about vibrato readiness and a sequence of vibrato exercises. According to Charles, when a student begins to incorporate vibrato into their performance, the quality of sound is forever transformed! New layers of expression become possible, artistry develops, and a student’s sound becomes truly their own. Kerstin said that for many children an arm vibrato develops first more easily and naturally, and together Charles and Kerstin showed how many exercises can be quite readily adapted for the development of either arm vibrato or wrist vibrato. In this session, we performed The Little Ghost, and Ghost Tones – two of Charles’ favorite “pieces” for developing vibrato motions.

Isabel_kl
Isabel Morey Suau led the class on soundpoints. In her own unique and engaging style, Isabel first showed the class a beautiful mobile that she made that had two angels and a star hanging from strings.

The mobile represented the critical balance between the contact point, bow weight, and bow speed for tone production.

 

Isabel+Mobile

Under Isabel’s leadership, we then worked in great depth on one of the most beautiful exercises from Kerstin Wartberg’s new publication.
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With a gorgeous accompaniment written by David Andruss (and played live for the class by David), we played a four part exercise that includes the exploration of all 5 lanes and demonstrates the exact recipe of bow speed and bow weight needed to create a beautiful sound.

As an extra treat for the teachers, Mike Hoover performed an improvisation over the chord progressions, illustrating further possibilities for creativity and expression.

We next studied an Introduction to Double Stops with Katrhin Averdung as the presenter.

We began with Hey!Haj! and Kathrin instructed us on some conditions necessary for double stops: balance the bow on both strings, put more weight on the lower string and not on the higher one, fingers placed on inside corners, and that the finger you place down has to be in tune with the open string.

This was all in preparation for a much more sophisticated set of exercises, which we then performed as a class (Basic Exercise for Thirds: Thirds combined with Fourths, Pairs of Thirds, and Song with Thirds). These exercises are well described by Simon Fischer. He explains that “adding a perfect fourth in between two thirds is an excellent way to find a balanced intonation and feel in the hand.”

Kathrin+Mike_kl

Kathrin had many helpful suggestions for teaching double stops, including some thoughts on how to make the level of the bow most advantageous for double-stopping, to avoid vibrato and play with pure sound, and to set the fingers silently as a preparation. She says that silent finger preparation guides a kinesthetic sense and is mental training for the fingers to know where to go and when to stay down.

We resumed our studies the following day with Charles Krigbaum once again teaching about vibrato, and this time presenting with Mike Hoover.
Mike added some interesting points to the discussion as well. He said it is important that children relax their upper left arm and modeled some pre-vibrato motion exercises for the participants:Mike_004

  • Sink elbow into the palm of mom’s hand
  • Use tic tacs with a relaxed hand.
  • Have parent or teacher hold child’s left thumb so that their arm can relax and fingers are relaxed (The Hitchhiker Exercise).
  • Have student place their fingers on the natural depression of the right hand near the wrist-the right hand holds the left hand thumb and makes swinging motions with the left hand fingers one at a time.

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Agathe Jerie from Switzerland taught a live group lesson with students from her program. The lesson demonstrated many possibilities for working with groups comprised of students of various ages and levels.

Jerie_044_kl

Her lesson incorporated singing, movement activities (one example was a pre-vibrato motion exercise), and rehearsal strategies for polishing repertoire.

Later in the Conference, the children performed a concert for the participants that captured their delightful spirit and showed many creative examples of possible group formats (tutti/solo, melody/harmony, combining pieces into medleys, choreography, and using student leaders).

The A Course is now over and many additional teachers are arriving in Remscheid to join us for the Main Conference. I hope you have enjoyed this report, and I invite you to join us next year! Look soon for a report on Simon Fischer’s sessions by Helen Hines from Great Britain, and a transcript of the philosophy lecture given by Charles Krigbaum during the Main Conference.

All the best to you,
my Suzuki colleagues from all over the world!
Heidi

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Conference material as FREE DOWNLOAD


Vibrato_kl

Handouts by Charles Krigbaum:

No. 1
Teaching Vibrato to Children

 

No. 2
Vibrato Readiness

 

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Basics_kl

Handout by Kerstin Wartberg:
BASICS for YOUNG VIOLININSTS

Intermediate level, vol. 1

Sneak preview of Kerstin Wartberg’s next publication from Edition Peters, based on the teachings of Simon Fischer and Shinichi Suzuki

32 pages and 34 mp3 files (74364 KB)

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Please like our page on facebook!

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7th European Suzuki Teachers Convention in Germany
30 October – 2 November 2015

 
We hope to meet you all again for next year’s Conference, and extend an invitation to all violin, viola and cello teacher of the worldwide Suzuki community.EVERYBODY is WELCOME!

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Thank_you_kl

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Heidi_2

Heidi L. Curatolo

Director of the Suzuki Violin and Piano Institute of Aspen, USA


Education

Music Performance from Brooklyn College

City Universtiy of New York 1998
Masters in Education and Mathematics Brooklyn College, 2001
Aspen Music Festival and School alumni

Read what the newspaper ASPEN TIMES reports about Heidi’s Suzuki Institute.

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Heidi Curatolo: 5th Suzuki Teachers Xchange Conference in Germany – PART 3

Heidi_2DAY 3
I
ntensive Course:
Pre-Twinkle and Book 1A

 

After the conclusion of the Main Conference, I stayed in Remscheid for two more days to participate in the Pre-Twinkle and Book 1A Intensive Course.

 

Sara and Silvia Migliorini:  Musical Garden
Italian sisters Sara and Silvia presented a demonstration of the Musical Garden. The Musical Garden is a non-instrument specific music and movement program in Italy for children. The curriculum consists of three different programs: Music Lullaby (for children from 0 to 3 years old, their mothers and their teachers), Children’s Music Laboratory (for children ages 3 to 10, with particular reference to the Suzuki methodology and support for the study of a musical instrument) and Dr. Music (a specific program for children with disabilities). Students in these programs learn to sing in tune, feel the beat, and learn many important music theory concepts. The Musical Garden classes support Dr. Suzuki’s belief that all children can develop musical, provided that their early environment supports such learning. For more information on the Musical Garden visit:
http://www.musicalgarden.it/

Sara and Silvia demonstrated a great number of wonderful Pre-Twinkle Activities from Children’s Music Laboratory. These exercises were both entertaining and very instructive for children and their parents.

  
Ruth Brons shared with us how she teaches Allegretto in a session titled


Teaching Dr. Suzuki’s Allegretto: Puzzles and Patterns
.
 

Allegretto

Here you will find a very detailed summary of Ruth’s lecture that she is generously sharing with all of us:

Conference material by Ruth Brons
Egg Puzzle for “Allegretto”

  
Sue Hunt “The 100 day practice Challeng
e

The Habit of Making Every Day Special.

How to develop a most important life skill in your students and yourself, the ability to follow through on a project, no matter how challenging.

 100_days_practice

Sue Hunt from London (Great Britain) says practice has to happen every day. Why doesn’t this happen easily?  She claims children don’t want to practice and parents find practice time too stressful.  In this session, Sue outlined many ways to make a 100-day practice challenge successful and rewarding. 
At her website, www.musicinpractice.com, Sue has created a 100-day practice kit that includes everything one could possibly want or need to kick start a new and effective daily practice habit. Sue taught the workshop participants her techniques for implementing the challenge in a teaching studio or with families and friends.  She shared with us examples of pledge certificates for children of all ages, weekly practice charts, tools for scheduling practice, milestone certificates, and ideas for celebrating the successful finish of the challenge (one way she recommended was to begin a NEW practice challenge).

Conference material by Sue Hunt
 

In a two-part session that happened on both Sunday evening and Monday morning, Charles Krigbaum from Texas (USA) presented Pre – Twinkle: Building Skills that Last a Lifetime, a series of lectures where Charles shared his Pre-Twinkle sequence and his lesson plans for the first several lessons with a new student.  He outlined his ideas about the use of a box violin and foot chart, lesson rituals, developing endurance for posture, balancing the bow hand, forming the left hand structure, securing the violin hold, developing a child’s tone concept, and training children to work with repetitions.

 
 
Evening program in relaxed atmosphere:
International Exchange

5 participants from 5 countries
Exchange_Klein

 
DAY 4
Intensive Course:
Pre-Twinkle and Book 1A
 
Building Skills that Last a Lifetime, Part II
 

Charles Krigbaum shared that he spends anywhere between 6 weeks to 3 months on the box for a young child, and uses this time to find opportunities to teach attitude, behavior, and respect.  He says that it often takes him six months for a student to play a well-developed Twinkle.

1.1Foot-Chart
 
 

He told teachers that during the journey through the Suzuki repertoire that we should be mindful that the students are not simply learning pieces, but that they are learning to play the violin. 
Charles_Pappgeige_2_KleinAccording to Charles, a student’s later success depends upon the teacher’s understanding and delivery of the material in the first volume.  He says that he learned this first-hand through his own experiences as a teacher committed to life-long learning.  He encourages us all to constantly revisit our ideas about Pre-Twinkle teaching.  He feels that it is important to keep ideas fresh, to have a clear vision of the student in mind, and to stay current with the best available information.

Charles believes that a teacher must be able to see with their ears and hear with their eyes because posture affects tone.  He says that beginning violinists must strive for even sound, even tone throughout the entire bow stroke and that the tone should be DEEP.

According to Charles, in Book 1, review means you do all of the pieces and their preview spots at home every day.  He stressed that in Book 1, students should play all Twinkle Variations every day and that every piece must be reviewed in the context of skill development.  He says that students who do this are different players.

Charles feels that having a sense of timing for progress is fundamental in teaching.  Knowing when to stay on something until it develops and when to move on is a special skill for teachers that can develop with time.

Charles showed many video examples of his early Book 1 students playing with excellent posture, violin holds, bow holds, and clear sound.  He claims that one secret to success is the use of practice videos and practice CDs such as Step-by-Step.  At the end of every lesson, Charles has the parent video tape him giving a short summary of the most important parts of the lesson, a reminder of all the assignments, and playing examples of the preview spots he has assigned. He says that he used to have parents video tape every lesson, but quickly realized that no one was watching them. He asks parents and students to watch the practice video once every day before practicing.

 
Charles_film_klein
 

During home practice, Charles advocates the use of practice CDs. Practice CDs guide the home practice, make practice longer, and provide structure while letting the parents off the hook just a little bit. He gave many examples of how he uses the Pre-Twinkle recordings in Step-by-Step 1A to teach Pre-Twinkle concepts including clapping, chanting, singing, and bowing on the “magic violin.”  He says that his students review their pieces with the Step-by-Step CD at home every day and that it ends arguments between children and their parents about how fast something should be played. He says that a piece develops from playing the fundamental exercises, to being able to play by phrase, to playing through a piece slowly and in the student’s own tempo, to progressing through the three tempi approach used in Step-by-Step.  He believes that this process provides a clear standard and makes practice more musical and enjoyable.

FREE DOWNLOAD
SHEET MUSIC: First Pre-Twinkle Songs

Audio Files (MP3): First Pre-Twinkle Songs

 
 
 
Daina Volodka, Chicago
Real Review: Mastery of violin technique
through listening and review
 
 

Daina_portrait_Klein

 

According to Daina, if a student and parent do not know why they are reviewing, then they will not do it at home.  She feels that it is essential to raise the value of review by making it purposeful and relevant.  Daina shared that Alice Joy Lewis, an esteemed Suzuki pedagogue in the United States, cautions us as teachers to know that what we are not hearing in lessons is not being played at home. Her motto is, “inspect what you expect,” and by this she means that whatever we want the student to do at home, we need to stay current with in lessons. To take this a step further, Daina believes the student and parent must know what the expectation is and WHY she inspecting it. In this session, Daina shared games, strategies, and practice charts that she uses in developing a student’s review. One particular way Daina makes review relevant is the 15 WIN GAME.  In this game it is important that everyone understands what makes up a “win”.  In the  game there is “the stage”, “the backstage”, and “the audience.” When a child is playing, they must be “on the stage” and in charge, rather than the parent or teacher micromanaging the playing.

Daina reminded us that Dr. Suzuki said, “raise your ability with a piece you can play.” For Daina, review is an extraordinary opportunity to bring a previously learned piece to a higher level of development.  Daina shared with the participants her layering approach, and her system of grading review pieces to help students elevate the material to higher and higher levels.  Daina believes that review can powerfully impact the technique of every student, and can help to unlock the freedom to play with expression and high musical ability.

 
1. REAL REVIEW: GRADING CHART
2. REAL REVIEW: Sample recital review lists
3. REAL REVIEW: Review by Student Level
 
Kerstin Wartberg (Deutsches Suzuki Institut)
Working on sound quality from the very beginning

Kerstin began her presentation by reminding teachers that working on a student’s tone was always a priority for Dr. Suzuki. According to Kerstin, many children’s lessons started with a brief exercise led by Dr. Suzuki. She explained a process that she observed many times:

2_SUZUKIDr. Suzuki played a rhythm on an open string and the student had to repeat what Dr. Suzuki played. Sometimes Dr. Suzuki would repeat the same rhythm, and sometimes he would move to a different tone with a different rhythm. I saw him working this way with many students, always for a period of about 2 or 3 minutes until he seemed satisfied.
I asked myself what exactly it was that he wanted to teach with this short imitation game. The game appeared to involve many components: listening to pitch and rhythm, imitation of bow speed and bow length, but this was not his main point.
It was the quality of sound.
For Book 1 students, Dr. Suzuki emphasized an understanding for the depth of tone. Once, at a workshop in Denmark, he asked us to buy 20 bananas —one banana for each child in the Book 1 group class. The bananas were clever reminders that the children should understand that a good sound is never like a straight line, but like a little curve… or like a little banana.
 

Kerstin led the teachers in Remscheid in several similar games for Book 1 children.

Here are some examples:
The teachers closed their eyes and listened to the sounds Kerstin was playing using Twinkle rhythms on open strings. Was the sound flat, (like a plain? shallow? as a pancake?) or deep (with depth? curved like a banana?)? It was very easy to hear and to understand the differences. Then some teachers had to play and the group had to guess again. Now it was not so easy as it seemed before. The results were not always easy to differentiate.

The aim of this tone exercise was to get a clear feeling for the flexibility of the bow hair and the stick in connection with the natural weight of the arm. When this relationship is nicely developed the result is a beautiful tone with clear ringing sound – Kerstin called it the “bell tone.” Developing a beautiful bell tone is one important goal in Book 1. It is the preparation for the Casals tone exercise in Book 2, when the children need to shape three tone waves in the Beethoven Minuet.

Another interesting example of how to focus on tone quality with children was the STEP GAME. It is useful for private lessons or small group lessons with only a few children. The teacher plays, for example, a Twinkle rhythm on an open string with an excellent posture and the student standing at the other side of the room has to repeat it. If the child can play the rhythm with a good posture they are allowed to make a step forward toward the teacher. Then the teacher plays the rhythm again and asks the student to listen for very clear stopped bows on the eighth notes. If the child could stop well between the eighth notes, then they can take another step forward. But if the child did not play it very well, then they are not allowed to make a step forward. If the teacher wants to make this point VERY clear, then the child even has to make a step backwards. Within the framework of this simple game, the teacher has freedom to work on many topics, such as: playing only on one string (not accidentally touching the neighboring string), resonance between the eighth notes, a clear start to the tone without being squashed with uncessary pressure, more depth to the sound, a straight bow, or keeping the bow on the right sound point (bow lane) etc. If the child plays very well then he or she can make a very large step. The game is over once the student arrives at the other end of the room.
There were several other games focused on how to concentrate on sound and how to improve a student’s tone production. Always the main point of the game was to focus the student’ listening, and to increase the awareness of the three parts of every note that both the child and their parents must listen for:

No. 1 a clear start of the tone
No. 2 a deep, ringing sound
No. 3 a clear tone ending with resonance

The report is now finished!
Thank you for reading my account of the 5th Suzuki Teachers’ Exchange Conference in Germany. We all hope to see you next year! Stay connected here at the Suzuki Teaching Ideas – EXCHANGE and watch for upcoming articles by presenters and participants of this year’s Conference, or write one of your own!

 
 

Many thanks to Monika and Jürgen Pieck
for their perfect organisation!

Pieck_Klein_096


We hope to meet you at the next
Suzuki Teachers’ Convention in November 2014!

Kerstin, Barth, Quiroz

PLEASE NOTE ALREADY NOW !!!!!

EUROPEAN TEACHERS’ CONVENTION 2014
31 October – 3 November 2014

Sixth Suzuki Teachers’
Xchange Weekend in GERMANY
(Violin/Viola/Cello)

LET US WORK TOGETHER!

In response to the great demand
by many course participants we asked
Simon Fischer
to come also to our next conference in 2014.
And YES! He agreed to come!


Excerpt of the film “LET US WORK TOGETHER!”

********************************************************************
Heidi_2

Heidi L. Curatolo
Director of the Suzuki Violin and Piano Institute of Aspen, USA

Education
Music Performance from Brooklyn College
City University of New York 1998
Masters in Education and Mathematics Brooklyn College, 2001
Aspen Music Festival and School alumni

Read what the newspaper ASPEN TIMES reports about Heidi’s Suzuki Institute.

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Heidi Curatolo: 5th Suzuki Teachers Xchange Conference in Germany – PART 2

Heidi_2
Conference Motto:

Excellence from the Start

Following the Book 6 Intensive Course, the 5th Suzuki Teachers Xchange Conference began on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. with a brief welcome from Kerstin Wartberg, Director of the German Suzuki Institute.  Over 130 teachers from 20 countries throughout Europe and North America gathered in the main lecture hall of the Akademie Remscheid to begin two days of seminars, presentations, and training sessions. 

During the conference, Carol Bez and Agathe Jerie from Switzerland, Anders Grøn from Denmark, Andrea Mugrauer from Austria,  and Kathrin Averdung and Kerstin Wartberg from Germany  were the trainers for an introductory course on the Suzuki method and its application to music learning.  Approximately 20 interested teachers participated in the course.  The purpose of the course was to give perspective teachers a basic understanding of the Suzuki approach and to introduce them to the ideas in Dr. Suzuki’s philosophy.

Isabel Morey Suau, from Germany, led the first activity. Isabel and I had exchanged messages and become friends on Facebook, so it was very exciting for me to finally meet her in person. She led a group class demonstration and had teachers volunteer to be the “children” for her class.

Isabel illustrated several of her techniques for using toy props. Using a very scary (but funny) black rubber rat with sharp pointy teeth, Isabel successfully got our attention to start the class. Isabel made an excellent point about the use of props, toys, and games.  For Isabel, props can serve as a way to create a memory or reminder of important ideas and concepts in the minds of the children. They are not just about entertainment, but for creating a strong memory association—although they can certainly be fun.

Once we were ready to start, she had us take our violins and place them on the ground. She used nonverbal cues to organize our arrangement, focus our attention, and to prepare the class for learning. We did exactly as she asked, but then she indicated through her actions that it was too loud and had us try again even more gently and with less sound.  

She also shared a unique system for controlling the flow of traffic in and out of class. Isabel overlaps two classes and has a student from the previous class lead a piece while she tunes the children from the next class.  Once a student has been tuned, she then adds them to the group one by one. Each child from the previous group leads a piece until she dismisses the previous class and is ready to start the next one. This procedure cuts back on the children becoming noisy and maintains their focus.  She also advised teachers that the best way to start a group class is to just begin the piano accompaniment and get started; talking just makes students (and parents) want to talk more!

Using several recordings (including the Suzuki, Step-by-Step, and Recital Training CDs) as accompaniment, Isabel modeled a variety of activities using music and movement to prepare techniques used in the Suzuki repertoire. Flowing movements, circular gestures, knee bends, and other body motions were first experienced by the group and then related to the teaching points of the pieces.

Charles Krigbaum presented a 90-minute lecture called Excellence from the Start where he explained how he aspires to create an environment of success and excitement and seeks to motivate students and their parents to develop the abilities of the child in the spirit of Dr. Suzuki’s philosophy.  He outlined his ideas about excellence, revealed strategies for setting the tone of one’s program, and gave practical examples for bringing out the best in everyone.  Charles shared many video examples of his students at different levels, and even showed the development of several children (over a period of many years), from the Pre-Twinkle stage to playing major concertos.

Krigbaum, Kerstin, Gruppe_004_Klein

Steven (5 years old) practices the Pre-Twinkle bow hold

 Steven (now 7 years old) works on vibrato

Charles believes that through the process of learning to play the violin, children learn valuable life lessons: that attitude is everything, to always try your best, to have the ability to do things even when we do not want to, to value cooperation, and to experience the joyful satisfaction of accomplishments achieved as the result of one’s own efforts.
He stated that developing the technical and musical tools for excellence in performance, along with developing the character of the child are the dual goals of the Suzuki method.  Charles urged teachers to always remember that in the Suzuki method we advocate developing the character of the child, for it is the character of the child that will be reflected in the quality of their music. He joked that “no one ever became excellent at anything by doing something once or twice, two or three times a week.”  He stated that the pursuit of excellence is our way as Suzuki teachers to help children develop into the best they can be.

Charles has a very direct, yet inspiring way of communicating with parents and students.  He lets parents know from the very beginning that the Suzuki experience is a mirror of their own personal values, work ethic, and attitude.  He outlined ways to inspire excellence using a positive approach, and stressed that the teacher must set the pace of progress, insist on completing assignments, and require the parent to fully embrace their role in the Suzuki Triangle. 

He concluded his presentation with the following thought:
“Imagine a world where children grow up learning to play the violin. Yes, there are challenges – but the children develop into wonderful people with splendid abilities and fine character. They have a deep appreciation for the power of their own efforts, a connection to music and all things beautiful, and know the joy of delayed gratification. Every day, teachers all over the world are using Dr. Suzuki’s philosophy and vision to create, through music, a world where these possibilities become reality. Good communities have a shared set of values. The Suzuki community is no different, and we are all in this together. Together we can achieve excellence from the start.

The Spanish Suzuki teacher Claudio Forcada from England shared part of his doctoral thesis on the similarities of different teaching schools from Kato Havas, Paul Rolland, and Mimi Zweig Pedagogy. Charles shared with me that he was amazed at how small the music world truly is. He and Claudio had been in Mimi Zweig’s pedagogy class together 10 years ago at the Indiana Summer Music Festival. Unfortunately we had to choose which workshops to attend and when to have dinner, so I was only able to see the beginning of this lecture.  There were so many things happening, it was hard to choose!

Forcada_124_Klein

At the end of the day there were two parallel events. “Pre-Twinkle Exercises without Instrument” presented by the teachers Mike Hoover, Tanja Bachmann, Pia Karls, Jordi Neumann and Constanze Wurzel.
I attended the session called “Irish Fiddle Tunes for Suzuki Students” by Bernadette Robinson and her sister, Noelle McHugh. This class was so much fun! Bernadette and Noelle explained that culturally in Ireland, folk tunes are taught by ear and are a part of the environment of the child from an extremely young age.  For many generations, music has been passed down in a manner that is strikingly similar to the Suzuki Method.  

The Irish Suzuki teachers, the sisters Bernadette Robinson & Noelle McHugh

The Irish Suzuki teachers, the sisters Bernadette Robinson & Noelle McHugh

A few of us enjoyed this session so much that we continued to play fiddle tunes at the bar very late into the night as a part of the “evening program”.

Bar_is_open

The evening seminars ended with Anders Grøn from Copenhagen and a group of his cello teachers playing arrangements of Suzuki pieces for cello choir. These touching arrangements exemplified “how to speak and sing through our instrument.”

Anders_092_Klein

Cellogruppe_093_Klein

Cellokurs_097_Klein

The incredible tone of the cellos, played so beautifully and with great emotion was so moving to me. I sat motionless in awe. It made me want to learn how to play the cello.

Sunday:

Ruth Brons

Early Sunday morning there were three different lectures occurring at the same time. Unfortunately, I will admit that I missed Ruth Brons “Things 4 Strings” bow hold accessories discussion, although I am interested in purchasing one to experiment with.  

During the Conference, Ruth met with many teachers and shared her story of how the bow-hold buddies were invented, the needs that she believes they can help meet, and her experiences with using them with her own students.  The participants at the Conference clearly had a unique opportunity to learn about a pedagogical tool directly from the inventor!

Here you can see a video with the latest information about “Things 4 Strings.”

Our Conference IT specialist, Christoph Friedrichs, who has managed all of the technological support for the Xchange for several years, presented himself this year as a speaker.
Christoph_103_kl
He invited all Suzuki teachers to use Facebook and to recognize the opportunities present in
social networking in bringing Suzuki communities together. He spoke about common concerns and problems that could be present when adapting to social media (such as privacy and maintaining professionalism) and how to manage them.  He noted that we are all pioneering a new era in community building, and as a positive example he mentioned the Facebook group “SUZUKI TEACHING IDEAS – EXCHANGE.” This and other Suzuki groups are great opportunities to be in contact with colleagues from all over the world and to share teaching experiences.  Christoph reminded the participants that in the 21st century, communities are no longer bound by physical limitations (indeed our close friends and colleagues may live on the other side of the world) and that everyone who uses Facebook prudently can find lively exchange, good teaching ideas, and new inspiration. 

Gino Romero Ramirez is a Suzuki violin teacher originally from Columbia who now lives and teaches in Germany and works a lot with rhythm, body percussion, and drums. Often he uses the Step-by-Step CDs in classes that integrate drumming, body percussion, stepping, and singing. He teaches Suzuki classes and shares the joy of music in the public schools for up to nearly 700 children a week! We watched a video of Gino’s energetic and engaging teaching and it included so many different facets.   He shared his experiences with teaching large groups of children in many diverse formats.  From violin classes and general music to orchestra and early childhood music—it is clear that Gino has many talents and shares them to touch the lives of so many children who might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn about music and the violin. Gino’s infectious and playful spirit is most certainly inspired by Dr. Suzuki’s philosophy.

Gino Romero Ramirez Gino Romero Ramirez

Here is an example of some of the rhythm training that he uses in group lessons.

 

Claudio Forcada & Andrea Quiroz

               Claudio Forcada & Andrea Quiroz

Andrea Quiroz from Barcelona presented a note reading game (invented by Andrea) with many possible uses and variations.  

It  is  directed  to young  children and  their  parents and  helps them  to  understand  the  first steps  of  note reading in a playful manner.  Children using Andrea’s system are able to learn elementary pitches, rhythms, and time signatures, all while having quite a lot of fun.

SIMON FISCHER
On Sunday morning at 9:15 a.m., most of the teachers at the Conference gathered in the main lecture hall of the Akademie Remscheid to hear Simon Fischer, internationally renowned teacher, violinist, author, and pedagogue, present a morning of lectures on “Solving Problems in String Playing.”

Basics_D_U1All German-speaking teachers received a special gift from the conference organizer: a copy of the newly published edition of Basics translated into German by Kerstin Wartberg.  This enormous project (231 pages of English to German translation) was completed just in time for the conference, and the appearance of Mr. Fischer at the Xchange was a perfect opportunity to celebrate the release of this important publication.

The participants had been eagerly awaiting Mr. Fischer’s presentation and the excitement in the room was quite evident. 


His lecture focused on the teaching of proportions, tone production, and making a distinction between what constitutes a “violin lesson” versus a “music lesson.” 


Fischer+Heidi 

It was very exciting for me to interact with Simon, and he used me as an example for illustrating the importance of healthy posture and position in order to prevent injury. 

After the lecture, many teachers greeted Mr. Fischer and had the opportunity to have their books signed and to pose for pictures.  Daina Volodka and Charles Krigbaum are preparing a detailed article about Simon Fischer’s presentation for an upcoming blog. 

Check back here in the future for this article, and also for Part III of this series coming soon!

Simon Fischer & fans

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Heidi_2

Heidi L. Curatolo

Director of the Suzuki Violin and Piano Institute of Aspen, USA


Education

Music Performance from Brooklyn College

City Universtiy of New York 1998
Masters in Education and Mathematics Brooklyn College, 2001
Aspen Music Festival and School alumni

Read what the newspaper ASPEN TIMES reports about Heidi’s Suzuki Institute.

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Heidi Curatolo: 5th Suzuki Teachers Xchange Conference in Germany – PART 1

Heidi_2
Conference Motto:

“Let Us Work Together!”

In early November I attended the 5th Suzuki Teachers Xchange Conference in Germany for Suzuki Teachers throughout Europe.  The event was organized by the German Suzuki Institute, the teacher-training department of the German Suzuki Association, and led by vio­linist and Suzuki pedagogue, Kerstin Wartberg.  In addition to the weekend confer­ence, teachers had the option of attending the Suzuki Book 6 Intensive Course prior to the conference and the Pre-Twinkle & Book 1A Intensive Course following the conference.  I chose to attend all of the course offerings because I was very interested to learn more teaching strategies for my advanced students, and I also wanted to gain new ideas for working with my young beginners. 

I am so pleased that I attended all of the course offerings because these classes ex­ceeded my expectations!

On Friday, the teachers participating in the conference gathered at the Remscheid Academy and checked in to our very comfort­able dorm rooms.  At the registration desk participants were given huge folder packets which included our sched­ules, conference documents, and amazing new test materials from Kerstin.  Among the newest publications already in the testing stage are Enjoying Violin Technique (in three volumes), and a second volume of note reading.  All of these materials included beautifully recorded accompaniment CDs.

I was one of three Americans attending the Xchange. Charles Krigbaum from Texas and Diana Volodka from Illinois also traveled to Germany to participate in the conference.  Once we were situated in our dorms and had time to peruse our new materials, we proceeded to meet at the cafeteria for coffee and cake and become acquainted with some of our new European colleagues.  Charles, Daina, and I had met before at Suzuki Institutes and conferences back home in the US, but we had never before met our colleagues from over­seas.  We were extremely excited to meet Kerstin Wartberg in person.  Until this time, we only knew Kerstin through her teaching materials, via e-mails, phone calls, and Facebook.

Day 1: Suzuki Book 6 Intensive Course 

The American Trio: Daina Volodka, Charles Krigbaum, Heidi Curatolo

The American Trio: Daina Volodka, Charles Krigbaum, Heidi Curatolo

Our Book 6 class started with Charles Krigbaum leading a session on teaching Fiocco, Allegro and Handel, Sonata in F Major, 2nd movement.  Charles included in the course documents – a very good outline of teaching points – that he has collected from his studies and uses in his teaching.  He discussed how Fiocco is a much more difficult piece technically than it first appears to be.  We looked at how to teach complicated string crossings, fast finger action in the left hand, and dynamics by breaking them down into small steps.  We played several of Charles’ previews and also performed the entire piece as a group.  After playing together, Charles joked that while adults playing Fiocco together will tend to slow down, students will always want to rush the piece.  He talked about considerations for leading the piece in group performance, and stressed that it is unnecessary to make exaggerated body motions to indicate dynamics.  He suggested that rather than dropping down to one’s knees to indicate a sudden p, that teachers could communicate the same intention by standing very still.  After showing videos of his home students performing these pieces in recitals, he also emphasized slow practice in small sections, and gradually increasing tempo.

Conference material by Charles Krigbaum (USA)
Joseph-Hector Fiocco, Allegro
Georg Friedrich Handel, Sonata in F Major, 2nd movement

Veronika Kimiti & Andrea Agotha-Vajer

Veronika Kimiti & Andrea Agotha-Vajer

The next seminar was led by Veronika Kimiti. Together with her colleagues Andrea Agotha-Vajer and Sergej Simki,  she shared a Polish edition of Sevcik’s 40 Variations, Op. 3 with special attention to Variations 1 and 2 regarding the teaching of Hungarian Professor, Foldesi Lajos.
Veronika discussed using the small muscles of the bow hand in combination with the movement of the arm while playing at the frog. We performed several exercises (and many repetitions) to develop finger motion and the collé bow stroke. We watched a video presentation of the Professor giving a master class to Veronika’s students and were told that the students made significant progress after working with him for a short time.

 

Diana Volodka outlined the teaching points of the Handel Sonata in D major 1st and 4th movements and highlighted the changes in the Revised Edition. Most of the participants already had the new edition and were becoming familiar with the changes that Daina helped distinguish. Daina addressed many important points in this piece, including how to count and subdivide the first movement, how to use the natural weight of the arm to produce a strong tone, and other special considerations for managing bow speed when performing slow movements.  During the last movement, Daina led the class in discovering the new bowings for the dotted figures.  These could be practiced on open strings or made into a Twinkle variation. She also explored alternate possibilities for shaping the musical line in various phrases of the 4th movement.    

Daina Volodka & Kerstin Wartberg

Daina Volodka & Kerstin Wartberg

 

 

Conference material
by Daina Volodka (USA)
Georg Friedrich Handel,
Sonata in D Major, 1st movement


Georg Friedrich Handel,
Sonata in D Major, 4th movement

 

 

Day 2: Suzuki Book 6 Intensive Course
On Saturday, we continued Book 6 with Sergej Simkin outlining a brief history of the origins of the theme of La Folia. He explained that the La Folia theme can perhaps be traced back to Portugal, Italy and Spain, however its origin is still somewhat shrouded in mystery.

Sergej Simkin & Liana Mogilewskaja

                             Sergej Simkin & Liana Mogilewskaja

In the 15th and 16th centuries it was used for festivities and courtly theater. Some sources say it was a Portuguese noisy carnival dance. The La Folia melodic formula and harmonic progression was often used during this time in instrumental dance music.  Some sources say the Spanish, not Portuguese, used it for theater. The melody consists of 16 bars divided into 2 phrases. The melody is in 3/4 time and the first part exists as a 4 line poem.
It was also used in the 17th and 18th centuries as an aristocratic dance in Spain and France. It further developed in the mid-17th century, beginning its triumphant procession across the Iberian Peninsula. Here, La Folia emphasized insane movement and farce text. 

Corelli used the theme in the 1700s. The 18th Century La Folia was also performed in Sweden, America and Mexico. About 150 composers have created works using the La Folia theme. After Sergej talked about the long history of this beloved theme, he played many musical examples for us.

1. (Guitar) Arcangelo Corelli (1700) – Folias
2. Alessandro Scarlatti (1723) Variazioni su La Follia
3. Antonio de Cabezon (1557) – Folias (Pavana con su Glosa)
4. Cherubini (1813) – Gli Abencerragi – Ballet
5. Corelli-Veracini (c.1729) – Sonata No. 12 ‘Folia’ in G minor
6. CPE Bach (1778) – 12 variations H263
7. d’Anglebert (1689) Suite No. 3 In D Minor- Variations Sur Les Folies d’Espagne
8. Diego Ortiz – Recercada Quarta sobre la Folia (1553)
9. Fernando Sor (c.1815) – Folies d’Espagne et un menuet, Op. 15a
10. Geminiani (1726) Concerto XII in d moll ‘Follia’ – Theme + Variations 1-8
11. Girolamo Frescobaldi (1615) Partite 6 sopra l’Aria di Follia
12. J.B.Lully-A.Philidor (1672) – Les Folies d’Espagne
13. J.S.Bach (1742) Cantata BWV 212 №8 Aria Soprano “Unser trefflicher lieber Kammerherr”
14. Liszt (1867) – Spanish Rhapsody
15. Lully (1672) – Les Folies D’ Espagne
16. Marais (1701) LES FOLIES D’ESPAGNE – 32 Variations
17. Marc Roger Normand Couperin (c.1695) – Folies D’Espagnes
18. Mattheson (1720) Der brauchbare Virtuose, Sonata XII – Sarabande
19. Paganini (c. 1815) Violin Concerto 6 ‘Grand Concerto’ – III. Rondo
20. Rachmaninov (1932) – Variations on a theme by Corelli in D minor Op 42
21. Salieri (1815) – Twenty Six Variations On La Folia De Spagna
22. Vivaldi (1705) Trio Sonata in D Minor RV63 Variations on La Folia

"La Folia"  with Kerstin Wartberg

“La Folia” with Kerstin Wartberg

Following the historical account of La Folia, Kerstin Wartberg had us take out our instruments and we began a long and detailed session on the teaching points for La Folia from Book 6. We started off with singing! We used the “magic violin” (bowing in the air without our instruments) and learned to sing the bow speeds for the opening theme—such as “fast slow…. slow…. fast”. We discussed the specific variables for tone production such as speed, weight, and contact points (the lanes on the highway). Then we looked at the various ways of changing bow lanes to achieve tone color differences. We also studied several important preparatory exercises for the exchange shifts. Kerstin taught us specific language for cueing the students’ motions and ensuring technical accuracy.  For example, when we shift on the same note from 2nd position to 3rd position, we learned to cue the student by saying (while playing) “light” (indicating a release of finger pressure) just before the shift. 
The class found this more challenging than we might have expected!

Lauffer-Königer+Gruppe_045_Klein

These exercises were very neatly organized in our seminar packets.
Exercises for the variations
Just a few examples:

Variation 1, bow speed exercises and intonation.
Variation 2, emphasis on arm weight for tone projection followed by a second section to be played in the upper half more détaché.
Variation 3, Bariolage-practice open string bow pattern without fingers, then add fingers.

Thirds, place hand, play thirds, drop hand and try to remember feeling of where fingers should be placed each time to be in tune.
At the top of the 3rd page, we learned an important technique for securing the fast runs by using fast finger placement in finger patterns.

Raul, Helen, Daina_038_Klein

I learned about combination double stop tuning and how the intonation is different from playing thirds on a piano. The F appears to be slightly higher on the E String when played with the open A string.

Kerstin, Heidi, Adler_059_Klein

We concluded our session with a group performance of La Folia. We played the theme and the first several variations as a group, and then soloists played some variations. We ended the last page together as a whole group. I got to play a solo and lead the group—this was very exciting! This approach could be used in a group class and for group performances.

I really appreciated how Kerstin outlined each point in a manual for us to take home and use with our students. I find this very helpful after going through the exercises together in the class. There was so much information presented, I like being able to further review it when at home.

Conference material
by Kerstin Wartberg (German Suzuki Institute)

Teaching points:    Arcangelo Corelli, La Folia 

Kathrin Averdung

Kathrin Averdung


Kathrin Averdung
gave a class on Gavotte I and II by Rameau.

Kathrin gave excellent examples of the fundamental exercises needed by the students to perform this charming and sentimental piece. We began by working in detail on performing the opening theme with special attention to the double stop and bow speed.

Led by Kathrin, we later worked in particular on how to carefully prepare the bow strokes necessary for the Gavotte II.  My favorite part of this session was when we played a beautiful trio arrangement of Gavotte I together as a class.

Kathrin, Schlenk, Karls, Kerstin_063_Klein

Conference material
by Kathrin Averdung (German Suzuki Institute)

Rameau: Gavottes I and II, Teaching points
Rameau: Gavotte I, Arr. for Three Violins by Kerstin Wartberg

 

The Violin Intensive Course Book 6 has been a great experience. After lunch the 5th Suzuki Teachers Xchange CONFERENCE will begin and we’ll meet even more of the European teachers. In many parts of the building we see people arriving and groups of teachers with happy faces.  We have been studying now for nearly two days, and now it is time for the conference to begin.

Jerie, Mugrauer, Barth, Zillmann_015_Klein

I’ll report more about the 5th Suzuki Teachers Xchange CONFERENCE in PART II – coming in the near future.

Certificate_Heidi

*****************************************************************************
Heidi_2

Heidi L. Curatolo

Director of the Suzuki Violin and Piano Institute of Aspen, USA


Education

Music Performance from Brooklyn College

City Universtiy of New York 1998
Masters in Education and Mathematics Brooklyn College, 2001
Aspen Music Festival and School alumni

Read what the newspaper ASPEN TIMES reports about Heidi’s Suzuki Institute.

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Carolyn McCall: “Music and Movement”

Prepare For Instrument
Study With “Music and Movement” Experiences

Setting the Stage
“Music and Movement” classes of many types provide opportunities for parents and young children to start on a path toward successful instrumental study. The process reminds me of the adage, “In order to have wings, we first must have roots.”

“Music and Movement” classes are all about roots. Singing, movement, pitch awareness, and concentration and coordination exercises help prepare class participants for instrument-specific lessons. Some children absorb these skills from existing musical environments; other families need guidance to begin creating those fruitful environments. All benefit from a head start on these skills before instrument-specific lessons begin.

Some of the abilities developed through music instruction are:

  • Listening
  • Observing
  • Imitating
  • Memorizing
  • Concentrating
  • Performing
  • Discipline
  • Perseverance
  • Sensitivity to feelings and emotions

I developed what I do in “Music and Movement” classes by working backwards from my early violin group classes. I look for ways to replicate common instrumental group activities with simple vocal songs and body movements.
I choose songs and activities that are simple and/or common so that families can remember and reproduce them at home. My classes are designed to be an early, less-formal experience of the types of structure necessary in successful instrumental lessons. I choose activities that appeal to the variety of ages and experiences found among family members. My activities are never instrument-specific, involve minimal special equipment, and involve no written notation. Though I gear the classes for children ages 4-6, younger and older ones often participate.

A key area of my classes is parental participation. In my home program, this class is part of the orientation time necessary before formal lessons begin. Anyone is welcome to participate in “Music and Movement” class, whether or not they plan to join my violin program later. The class is scheduled just prior to the beginners’ violin group class so that prospective families can stay and watch them. “Music and Movement” gives parents and children a chance to DO something constructive and musical together during the weeks when the parent is reading weekly handouts and the family begins listening to classical recordings if they were not doing so already. The class gives parents a chance to see if they are ready for the big commitments of instrumental study:

  • Attending class regularly
  • Arriving on time, ready to learn
  • Following my directions

I have a chance to set the stage of measuring progress in things OTHER than melodies learned. Parents see right away that class members participate on different levels; some are previewing while others are reviewing. Some children need to watch rather than participate at first. Often they later sing class songs at home or in the car. All of the children are learning to watch and listen to the teacher because their parents are modeling it. The parents’ interest, enthusiasm, and enjoyment are contagious to their children.
An old proverb is, “Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I will understand.”

“Music and Movement” helps parents with limited musical experience feel more comfortable about taking on the challenge of helping their children learn about music. It is easier to follow the singing and movements of a group than to try out these new activities alone. This class also provides me with a glimpse of family dynamics. If the family later joins my violin program, I have gained some insight into how best I may help them learn.

Class Routine
It is important to have a trained musician teach “Music and Movement” classes, because such a person has the best chance of creating a successful “can’t fail” environment. It takes skill and experience to lead a group using simple, clear instructions and relaxed, communicative body movements. To become good followers, class members need a solid leader; eventually they in turn may learn to lead also. The teacher must model basically good singing skills for the class.

In class, the teacher sets the tempo and pitch before the song begins, using a variety of Ways such as singing the instructions in tempo on the starting pitch. The teacher maintains the tempo as well as consistent musical pitch. Using instrumental accompaniment in class may be fine, but will the home situation reinforce that? What is in our minds and bodies is usable anytime, not only when a live or recorded musician is heard at the same time.

The teacher must recognize what the class needs to have reinforced and guide the class’ achievements. Lesson plans are only the beginning – the teacher assesses if they all understand and are able to do the goal to the best of their current abilities. A creative teacher reinforces in aural, visual, and kinesthetic ways.

The main equipment the class uses is their minds and bodies. I may bring a few things to class, including:

  • tuning fork (for a consistent A-440 “A”)
  • violin (a bowed note shows rhythm duration better than a drum)
  • metronome (with an arm- shows rhythm duration visually)
  • paper tissues
  • paper plates’
  • beachball

The ways I use these items are detailed in my handout for teachers, included later in this article.

A highly-important thing about “Music and Movement” class is the atmosphere. A teacher needs JOY, not PATIENCE. (Patience may include a suffering endurance quality.) My class is positive and interested – I keep the participants busy DOING things with minimal instructions or explanations. Sometimes I must make general statements about parents not giving their children hints and reminders during class; each child’s attention needs to be focused on the teacher, and parents show respect for the teacher by letting the teacher teach. Sometimes teachers choose not to comment directly on everything….

I try to create an environment with cooperation instead of competition.
John Holt wrote,
“A competitive child is happy when he wins.
A cooperative child is happy when he does his very best.”

Parents and children show various degrees of competence; I do not comment on anyone’s competence, especially whether or not they match pitch when they sing. In my experience, negative comments about pitch matching set up mental blocks to learning that skill. During 5-day institutes, many young class participants ding imaginary tuning forks and sing an in-tune “A” to me when they see me elsewhere on campus; their non-musical parents often don’t realize that this can be considered extraordinary.

Class Activities
Some of the written resources I have benefited most from include:

Wee Sing series by Beall and Nipp (includes booklets and recordings)
Complete Handbook of Music Games and Activities for Early Childhood by Athey and Hotchkiss Help Your Child to Grow With Lullabies, Action Songs, Rhymes by Dorothy Jones; this comes with a top-quality recording

My class routine is structured and orderly, which appeals to young children. There are three main sections to the class time:

  • sitting on the floor in a circle, children next to their own parents
  • moving around the room
  • sitting again

I open and close the class with establishing a physical beat (clapping, tapping, etc.) and chanting each child’s name in turn. The whole class repeats the name in rhythm after me. I bring out my “A-440” tuning fork, ding it, and sing “Everybody sing A with me —- A!”

Then to the pitches A-F# I sing “Hello/Good-bye, [child’s name]” in turn to each child in the circle; the whole class sings the name after me. When the class is ending, each child stands as we sing goodbye to him/her. When all are standing, we take a final bow and class is over.

Our bow is how I tell the class, “Thank you for coming” and how they tell me, “Thank you for teaching me.” In addition to labeling the note A-440 as “A” in class, I label the D a fifth below it as “D”. I first reinforce “A” with my tuning fork and have the class follow me singing “5-4-3-2-1” [A-G-F#-E-D]. Then I sing on D, “I is named ‘D’.” I then start a song on that D. If we sing in the children’s easy vocal range (middle C to the C above it), they are more likely to sing in tune. I tell the class that just as we consistently label visual colors, we also can label consistent sounds. A common Fisher-Price or Little Tykes toy xylophone can provide reasonable starting pitches at home (the biggest, lowest bar is C), and so my handout for parents lists our class songs and their starting pitches. (Musicians know that the starting pitch and the key of the song are not always the same.)

I build the class’ ability to audiate songs. (Music educator Edwin Gordon coined the term “audiate” to mean imagining music.) We think the songs in our heads but do not sing aloud. Choosing songs that have actions with them makes this easier; we all can do the actions to keep track of what we are audiating.

Teacher Handout
The next part of this publication is my Teacher Handout, which lists a variety of activities for a teacher to put together into class plans.

Parent Handout
The final section of this publication is my Parent Handout, which I give to class participants.

*********************************************

TEACHER HANDOUT –
Music & Movement with Carolyn McCall

Favorite Sones (with good starting pitches)
My Four Voices (Athey & Hotchkiss)
Speak/shout/whisper/sing [though any order works!]
Hand on chest = leader’s turn / hand outstretched = class’ turn

Twinkle (starting on D)
Move hands in air- floor for lowest pitch, higher for higher pitches [“audiate”= imagine]
Replace lyrics for lowest note with “D”
Lower notes = softer, higher notes = louder
Bread/Peanut.Butter/ Peanut Butter/ Bread sections [ABBA]

Row. Row. Row Your Boat (D)
Pound, Pound, Pound One Fist (2 fists, 1 foot, 2 feet: more = louder)
Brush, Brush, Brush Your Teeth

Now Tall. Now Small (D) (Wee Sing)
Hands in air [eventually audiate]
Lower notes = softer / higher notes = louder
Use whole bodies

Are You Sleeping (D)
Different languages, “Where is Thumbkin”, & “Walking, Walking” lyrics (Wee Sing)
“Walking, Walking” with walking fingers on selves or use whole bodies
Replace “Brother John” with class’ names in turn [sleep- wake on “morning bells”]
Harmonizes with Three Blind Mice (start “Three” on F#)

Down By The Bay (D) (Wee Sing Silly Songs)
Hand on chest = leader’s turn, hand outstretched = class’ turn
Invent funny endings [do not have to rhyme!]

John Brown’s Baby (D) (Wee Sing Silly Songs)
Replace words with actions only – baby, cold, chest, rubbed, camphorated oil
Last time – audiate only
[Battle Hymn of the Republic tune]

I Like To Eat (F) from Cub Scout book
“I like to eat apples and bananas”
A-E-I-O-U sounds

Five Little Monkeys
Chant and actions – with metronome

Wheels on the Bus (D)
Wheels, money, wipers, doors, driver, people, baby, parents, etc. – actions

Five Little Ducks (G)
Fingers hands, actions

Old MacDonald Had A Farm (G)
Each chooses an animal to sing about
(Harder-keep a chain of animal names, always adding the new one. Use only the sound of the new animal in the verse.)

Three Blue Pigeons (E) from Wee Sing
Set up 3 chairs for the 3 “blue pigeons” to use in turn

Pick It Up (D) by Woody Guthrie, from Very Favorites of the Very Young (Henry)
Each chooses something to pretend to pick up as all sing the song

Ten In the Bed (C)
Use metronome – make each verse one notch faster/slower

Head, Shoulders. Knees, and Toes (G)
Good with different tempi

Stand Up and Move Around
Teddv Bear (A)
from Wee Sing
Actions match lyrics –
(“turn around, touch ground, show shoe, that will do / upstairs, prayers, light, goodnight”)
Forwards and backwards
Different speeds- leader counts
“1-2-ready-GO!”

“Dance”
“Clap, clap, clap, and tap, tap, tap, and turn around and stamp, stamp, stamp!”
Different speeds- leader counts “1-2-ready-GO!”

Swing Hands in a Circle
Class gets swinging FIRST, then teacher starts playing
Swing to the teacher’s beat- teacher gradually changes tempo
(Drop hands and step the beat)
(Class swings to consistent beat but teacher plays notes 2x fast or 2x slow)

Walk [Four] Steps
Walk [four] steps in any direction, then change right away to a new direction
Teacher plays pitches in walking rhythm: new pitch for new direction
(Clap when take first step in new direction)
(Class could just walk in place)

Scarves (or Paper Tissues)
To smooth (legato) or choppy (staccato) sounds the teacher plays
Ball up and throw in air- teacher follows scarf’s motion with instrumental line
Throw in air- student follows scarf’s motion with sung line

Move the Speed the Instrument Says
Children may hold hands with their parents
Teacher plays rhythms [on different violin strings]
When teacher stops, class stops
[run / walk/ “step-hold”/ “hold that long note”: run is fastest/ walk is twice as slow/ etc.]
Only at first – have higher pitch be faster rhythm
Musical turn = class turns around and goes the other way [B-C-B-A-B] (different tempi)
High and higher pitch = class jumps [f#-g]
[2 separate circles – each reactions to particular rhythm(s)]

Paper Plates
Put one under each foot- walk to teacher’s legato or staccato [or pizzicato] sounds
When teacher stops, class stops (class’ swishy sounds stop)

Legato/Staccato Circle
Class holds hands when teacher plays legato, drops hands when teacher plays staccato

Move in the Direction of the Dynamic the Instrument Says
One end of room is for “soft”, other for “loud”- class moves according to dynamics of constant pulse teacher plays

Accents
Class walks to teacher’s steady soft beat – JUMPS on sudden accented beat
Teacher might set up consistent patterns or might not

Reaction to Tempo
Teacher plays 4 beats- class jumps on the 4th
(change tempo the next time)

Walk Around the Room During a Song
Class walks around while teacher plays; students return to starting places by the end

Song Sections OR Dynamics in a Circle
Class walks in a circle – turns and goes in other direction at each new section/dynamic

High/Low Pitches
Teacher plays 2 very different pitches. Class claps for high, stamps for low pitches.

One end of room is “high”, other is “low” – class walks in proper direction while teacher plays notes/song that go higher/lower.
Repeated note = step in place Make it easier – do glissandi, accent and change bow in new note direction

Echo Rhythm
Teacher plays rhythm- class echoes with feet [possibly with different dynamics]
(Teacher gives 4 pulses with a rest on the 4th pulse while teacher says “go”)

More Sitting Activities
Instrument Demonstrations
tenor, alto, soprano, and sopranino recorders (smaller recorders make higher sounds)
ocarinas / slide whistle
xylophone (Little Tykes or Fisher-Price: biggest bar is C)
boomwhackers (tuned percussion tubes)

High and Low
Teacher plays melodic line [glissando] – class claps when line changes direction (or class moves hands up/down in air while teacher plays)

Tonic
The most-important pitch of a piece is called the “tonic”. The “tonic team” hums this note while the “tune team” sings or hums a song. (For example, the tonic team hums D while the tune team sings or hums Twinkle starting on D.)

Basic Rhythmic Movements
Clap, snap, pat (pat different body parts for variety)
Teacher does movements while class simultaneously copies

Echo the teacher’s rhythm
(Teacher gives 4 pulses with a rest on the 4th pulse while teacher says “go”)

Ostinato – repeated pattern (some clap/snap/pat an ostinato while others sing a song)
Possible word ostinati – some chant “cold” [peas], add others with “cloudy” [carrots], add others with “raining raining” [rutabaga] (whole, half, and quarter notes)
Pick an important word that goes with a particular song, and chanters repeat that word in rhythm while others sing the song [i.e. chant “star” while Twinkle is sung]

A steady beat is like a steady heartbeat- the song may move faster or slower around it

Respond to the teacher’s pulse: teacher does 4 consistent beats/class echoes. Then teacher chooses a new pulse

Teacher plays piece? in different meters- class feels
In 3: Pat (while swing to one side) clap clap
In 4: Pat clap clap clap
Class claps twice as quickly (or slowly) as the teacher (or a metronome)

Leadership
Leader holds hands wide apart = class sing loudly
Leader hold hands close together = class sings softly

Divide into 2 groups – leader points at the group that should sing (switch during the song)
(Groups could sing the real lyrics or replace them all with “ho” or “hay” for groups)

Leader points to mouth = class sings out loud
Leader points to ear = class hears song, continuing in the heads only

Keeping A Pulse in Turn
Each person in the circle claps in turn, trying to keep the pulse steady
(helps to use a. follow-through movement to the next person)
(metronome may help) (helps if teacher says “clap-and-clap-and-“)
(Teacher might start alone; others, join as teacher calls out their names)

Class passes a (beach)ball from person to person, trying to keep the pulse steady
(Teacher claps or chants or plays instrument – 2 alternating notes helps)
(If teacher stops, person with ball holds it over his/her head)
(If teacher plays low note, class reverses passing direction)

PARENT HANDOUT-
Music and Movement with Carolyn McCall

This is a general music class geared to children aged approx. 4-6 and their parents. These activities help prepare everyone for instrument-specific group lessons.

Class Routine
Children sit by their parents in a circle on the floor
Class opens and closes with class chanting/singing names after teacher in rhythm
Teacher has “A-440” tuning fork and labels A and D pitches (important- consistency!)
We sing a lot of songs that start on D- easy vocal range, more likely to be in tune
We stand up and move around for awhile in the middle of the class
We might have an instrument demonstration (recorders, ocarinas, xylophone, etc.)

Favorite Songs (with good starting pitches)

  • My Four Voices (speak, shout, whisper, sing)
  • I Like To Eat (F) Twinkle (D) 5
  • Little Monkeys (with metronome)
  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat (D)
  • Wheels on the Bus (D)
  • Now Tall, Now Small (D)
  • 5 Little Ducks (D)
  • Are You Sleeping (Walking, Walking) (D)
  • 3 Blue Pigeons (E)
  • Down By the Bay (D)
  • Pick It Up (D)
  • John Brown’s Baby (D)
  • 10 In the Bed (C)

Stand Up and Move Around
Teddy Bear (A)- turn, touch, shoe, will do/ upstairs, prayers, light, goodnight
“Dance” (clap, tap, turn around, stamp)
Circle Shows Form of Song – walk; go other way at new song section
Circle Swing Hands to the Beat
Walk [Four] Steps – in any direction, then change to a new direction [clap on 1st step]
Walk Around During the Song – return to starting place by the end
Move the Speed the Instrument Says – run, walk, step-hold, hold-that-long-note, turn, jump
Paper Tissues – to legato/staccato sounds // throw in air, follow motion with singing
Paper Plates – under each foot, walk to legato/staccato sounds
Legato/Staccato Circle – hold hands during legato sounds, drop hands during staccato
Accents – walk to teacher’s steady soft beat, JUMP on sudden accented beat
Reaction to Tempo – Teacher plays 4 beats: jump on 4th beat // echo all 4 beats
Loud/Soft – Class moves closer when teacher plays loudly, further when softly
High/Low – stamp for low, clap for high // move toward “high”/”low” places in room
Echo Rhythm – teacher plays rhythm, class echoes with feet More

Sitting Activities
High/Low – Class follows notes with hands in air // claps when line changes direction
Tonic – “tonic team” hums most-important pitch of song while “tune team” sings song
Canon – Class follows teacher’s action 4 beats later [ie. clap 4x, tap 4x while class claps]
Basic Rhythmic Movements – clap, snap, pat: echo rhythms//do ostinato (repeated pattern)
Feel Rhythmic Differences – clap twice as quickly or slowly as the teacher claps
Basic Meters – feel different meters while teacher plays [in 3 = tap clap clap]
Dynamics – hands apart = loud // hands together = soft
Giving Directions – leader points at group that should sing in turn (randomly)
“Audiate” – “hear the song in your head” (point to ear) [point to mouth = sing out loud]
Keeping A Pulse in Turn – each in circle claps OR passes a beachball in steady rhythm

Copyrigth 2005, Carolyn McCall

ARTICLE DOWNLOAD

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546896_417828108327292_1040642280_nCarolyn McCall was a Suzuki violin student in John Kendall’s program at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) beginning in 1966. She earned music degrees from the University of Illinois and SIUE, where she did her Suzuki teacher training with Kendall. She was a Suzuki parent to her children and lived and taught violin, viola, and music & movement in Austria, Wisconsin, and Illinois. She published many articles and the book “Group Lessons for Suzuki Violin and Viola” and was an internationally active Suzuki clinician and conference organizer until 2011.
She closed her studio because of hand problems and her need for employer-provided health insurance. She now works in Admissions at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and performs music regularly in nursing homes.

McCall

Carolyn McCall
Group Lessons for Suzuki Violin and Viola
Alfred Music Publishing

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M. Hoover: Pre-Twinkle Exercises without Instrument

Dear Colleagues,

In the following I would like to give you some ideas of Pre-Twinkle exercises without instrument.

I am currently completing a teacher training course for level 1 of “Children’s Musical Garden”. This comprehensive program has been developed by Elena Enrico in conjunction with the Italian Suzuki Institute.
Since it is intended for children who are not yet playing an instrument, it is full of exactly those activities that are extremly helpful for young children and their parents as they prepare for future study.

Please have a look at the first six minutes of this film. You will see many short examples of the pre-school program. You find exercises for

  • fine motor skills directed towards instrumental playing
  • coordination
  • discipline
  • development of the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic ears
  • vocal expression
  • memorisation and orientation

The Role of the Parents
Elena Enrico describes it: “The course, in which the parents participate in a “semi-direct” way, is collective and carries out a project of “preliminary education”. 
Let me explain; to begin with I define “semi-direct” as being the participation of the parents,  as it occurs, in various moments during the lesson which goes from observation (and consequent understanding of the techniques) to direct participation (with the children) and actual practicing of the first daily teaching sessions with one‘s own child.” 

Concrete aims 
– familiarization with the pieces that make up the instrument repertoire;

– use of spacial and motor functions with relation to music;
– internalization of phrasing, timing and dynamics;  
– the developement of fine motor skills used on specific instruments;
– the developement of intonation, vocalization and expression;
– increasing the memory;                                                  
– internalization of a specific disciplinary habit;
– practicing the educational-disciplinary relationship with one’s own parent;
– making music with others and therefore using, together with the other children and adults who participate in the lesson, this newly acquired language, this new ability.

The six most important elements  
– rhythmic stimuli (that will then be applied to other elements)      

– melodic stimuli and consequent learning of the songs in the repertoire      
– manuality both free-hand and with the use of small preparation instruments     
– equilibrium and self-control (use of the body)     
– developement of the memory
– autonomy and self-confidence     

In September 2013, Elena Enrico & Marco Messina will write an article including many concrete details especially for our blog.

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Mike_mit_Klammern_bearb

MICHAEL HOOVER was introduced to the Suzuki Method in 1964 at the age of 5 in Oregon, USA. He studied music at Oregon State University, the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg, Germany, and Michigan State University. After medical studies, his medical career took him back to Germany where he returned to music and discovered his love for teaching.
Since 2012 he is an ESA Suzuki Violin Teacher Trainer. Convinced that “every child has been born with high potentialities (S. Suzuki),” he is constantly searching for better ways to help children develop their true potential.

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J. Macmillan: A comparison of Suzuki piano recordings

New recordings of the Suzuki piano repertoire have been made by Seizo Azuma, co-chair of the ISA piano committee and a professor of piano at Tokyo University. When his recordings of Books 1, 2 and 3 came out in 2008, I was filled with enthusiasm.
At last, we had recordings that teachers and pupils need and deserve. They addressed virtually all the reservations I expressed about available recordings in my article of 1999: Three recordings of Suzuki piano repertoire books 1 and 2: a comparison. The final sentence in that article was: ‘There seems to me clear scope for a new recording which would need to be technically accurate and musically sensitive to inspire Suzuki pupils’. I feel this has now been achieved. I hope that those who are used to the recordings by Haruko Kataoka (which I find aggressive at times), Valerie Lloyd-Watts (which I find insipid), or William Aide (in which some pieces are a little fast) will enjoy this new recording.

Professor Azuma’s musicianship in his performances of Books 1, 2 and 3 is superb, his playing lively, rhythmical and characterful. The sound quality is excellent, as is the recording quality. But, as we progress through the revised Books 4 to 7, which were brought out in 2010, I become less enamoured with Azuma’s recordings. Although the tone remains good, performances become a little pedantic, heavy, sometimes noisy and too fast. To me, they lack variety, flexibility, intensity, delicacy and magic.

Azuma’s baroque playing is rather solid – pieces such as Bach’s Inventions and the Prelude and Fugue need more variety in the quality of sound. His romantic music could do with more flexibility, shaping of phrases and sense of direction. It lacks subtlety, missing the Spanish spirit of Granados or the French atmosphere of Debussy. However, I did enjoy Azuma’s performances of the classical repertoire. The fast movements are lively and energetic, if sometimes a little on the quick side. His slow movements, particularly that of Mozart K545, demonstrate very sensitive playing – serene and expressive.
Of course, I am setting the bar very high. I listen to recordings of the Suzuki piano repertoire by Angela Hewitt, Murray Perahia, Alfred Brendel, Andras Schiff, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Daniel Barenboim and other luminaries. Who could possibly hope to perform like these international recitalists?! In any case, at the Book 6 and 7 level, students should be listening to many different performances of each of their pieces, not relying on one performer.

Azuma’s Book 5 recordings are useful adjuncts to further listening to top performers. It is in the early stages of learning that families need superb recordings instantly available, and Azuma’s recordings of Books 1, 2, 3 and 4 certainly provide that – they are exemplary.

Having been dissatisfied with the recordings available prior to Azuma’s, for my pupils I made a number of my own recordings, including elementary pieces played slowly and hands separately (introducing each piece with ‘ready and’) to help pupils in the early stages of learning and so they can listen and play along with them. These are on my website: www.jennymacmillan.co.uk

  Kataoka Aide Lloyd-Watts Azuma
Tone quality Harsh,
forced RH.
Pleasant tone. Shallow tone,
especially in bk 2.
Excellent tone.
Dynamics Good; nice echoes, even when not written in the score. No echoes or
dynamic contrasts until near end of book 2.
Almost no echoes
or dynamic
contrasts.
Narrow dynamic
range, contrasts not clear; no unwritten echoes.
Phrasing Phrases weakly shaped. Monotonous repeated notes in Allegretto 2. Gently shaped phrases. Sensitive
ends of phrases in book 2. Repeated notes lack variety in Allegretto 2.
Good phrasing. No variety in tone of repeated notes in
Allegretto 2.
Gently shaped
phrases. Bridge
passages in Beethoven 1st and 2nd movements
lack flexibility.
Balance
between
hands
Mostly good. Well-
blended LH broken
chords.
Happy Farmer: RH
accompaniment too
strong.
Accompaniment
clearly audible –
useful for studying
LH. Sometimes a
little too strong, eg
Short Story, Happy
Farmer.
 Good.  Excellent.
Legato
between
repeated
notes
Ranging from fairly
good to very good.
Good but not
excellent.
Very poor in book
1, poor in book 2.
 Excellent.
Speeds Mostly good, but
Ecossaise too
slow and Twinkle
Variations and
Minuet 2 rather
fast.
Mostly good if on
the fast side, but
some, especially
early book 2, too
fast, including
Twinkle Variations,
Christmas Day
Secrets, Short Story
and Minuet 2.
 Mostly good if on
the slow side, but
some too slow, eg
Twinkle Variations,
Allegretto 1,
Allegro and
Ecossaise.
 Lively, energetic.
Speeds mostly
excellent, but
Clair de Lune and
Minuet 2 too fast.
Musical
endings
to pieces
Slight slowing
down at ends of
pieces.
Slight slowing
down at ends of
pieces in bk 1.
Good variety of
ritardandi
in bk 2.
Abrupt endings
to pieces in book 1. Only slight
ritardandi
in bk 2.
 Excellent musical
endings.
  Kataoka  Aide  Lloyd-Watts  Azuma
 Rhythm Tendency to play almost 16th-dotted 8th instead of two equal 8th notes in Allegro, all Bach Minuets and Arietta.Happy Farmer: LH first quaver too long. Beethoven 1st movement: grace notes too loud. Accurate. Beethoven 1st movement: acciaccatura played before beat instead of on beat.

 

Accurate. Beethoven 1st movement: acciaccatura played before beat instead of on beat. Very accurate, rhythmical playing.
Articulation Christmas Day Secrets: RH first quaver played staccato instead of given its full length. Beethoven 1st movement: slurs not articulated. Christmas Day Secrets: RH bar 4 last note not played staccato. Inventive articulation in Bach and Mozart Minuets – inappropriate here? Short Story: RH 3rds not played staccato. Short Story: RH 3rds not played staccato.
Beethoven 1st movement slurs not articulated.
 
Rests
Rests omitted in Honeybee, Clair de Lune, Cradle Song and Melody. Previous note held too long in Long, Long Ago, Minuet 1 and Beethoven 2nd movement. Incorrect final bar in Happy Farmer.  Most rests accurate but previous note held slightly too long in Honeybee, G minor Minuet 1 and Cradle Song. Rests reasonably accurate but previous note held too long in Clair de Lune, Minuet 1 and G minor Minuet 1. Inaccurate rests in final bar of Long, Long Ago, Happy Farmer and Melody. Rests excellent except in Minuet 1 in which LH crotchets before rests are held too long.
Twinkle
Variations
RH fast and light with LH accompaniment. Variations 1–3: all about the same speed but too fast at MM82; Variation 2: no dynamic contrast; Twinkle theme: even faster at MM86 but good legato between repeated notes.

RH only. Generally too fast, but speed varies for each variation – Variation 1: MM80; Variation 2: MM72, some dynamic contrast; Variation 3: MM76; Twinkle theme: much too fast at MM92, fairly good legato between repeated notes.

RH and LH two octaves apart. Variations 1–3: slow and ponderous at MM66; Variation 2: no dynamic contrast; Twinkle theme: too fast at MM88, no legato between repeated notes. All variations in RH, then all in LH. Each variation is too fast and at a different speed (c84, 80, 88) but Theme is beautifully legato at an excellent speed of 72; Variation 2: no dynamic contrast p-f-p.
  Kataoka  Aide  Lloyd-Watts  Azuma
Note
accuracy
 Good.  Good.  Clair de Lune: two incorrect LH notes.  Good.
Recording quality  Good. Good. Very clear – every note audible.  Good. Good, though piano action is just audible.
Summary of good points Good dynamics; good balance between hands; good legato between repeated notes; mostly good speeds. Good tone quality; sensitive phrasing; musical endings; mostly good speeds if on the fast side; clear recording quality. Good phrasing; good balance between hands; mostly good speeds if on the slow side.  Excellent tone; excellent balance between hands, excellent legato between repeated notes; excellent musical endings; accurate, rhythmical, lively, energetic playing.
Summary of bad points
Harsh, forced tone; weakly shaped phrases; disturbing uneven quaver rhythm in places; many rests omitted or inaccurate. No dynamic contrasts within pieces; some accompaniments quite strong; some pieces too fast, especially at beginning of book 2; inappropriate articulation in Bach and Mozart.  Shallow tone, especially in book 2; little dynamic contrast; very poor legato between repeated notes; some pieces too slow; abrupt endings; rests not
always accurate; incorrect LH notes in Clair de Lune.
 Dynamic range could be wider and dynamic contrasts clearer; a few pieces too fast; gaps between pieces too long, especially between Beethoven 1st and 2nd movements.

 

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MacmillanJenny Macmillan has a thriving teaching practice in Cambridge and is an ESA piano teacher trainer. Her own three children all learned piano by the Suzuki approach.

Jenny has written extensively about the Suzuki approach and her articles feature on her website:
http://www.jennymacmillan.co.uk/

Jenny Macmillan

She has published a book:
Successful Practising A handbook for pupils, parents and music teachers

Click on image for more information

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K. Wartberg: Johann Sebastian Bach in the Suzuki Violin School

Johann Sebastian Bach is the most frequently encountered composer in the Suzuki Violin School, appearing in most of the books, and consequently at each developmental level. Following is a brief summary of the included works with bibliography:

Johann Sebastian Bach

Book 1
–       Minuet 1: From the Suite in G Minor for piano, BWV 822

–       Minuet 2: From the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, BWV Anh.116  (in G Major for harpsichord)
–       Minuet 3: From the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, BWV Anh.114 (in G Major for piano)

Book 2
–      Musette: From the English Suite No. 3 in G Minor, BWV 808

Books 3
–       Minuet I and II: From the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, BWV Anh. 114/115 (for piano)
–       Gavotte in G Minor: From the  Suite in G Minor for piano, BWV 822
–       Gavotte I and II: From the Orchestra Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068
–       Bourrée: From the Suite for Violoncello No. 3, BWV 1009

Books 4 through 8
–       Vivace: From the Concerto for Two Violins and String Orchestra in D Minor, BWV 1043

–       Gavotte I and II: From the  Suite for Violoncello No. 5 in C Major, BWV 1011
–       Gigue: From the  Suite for Violoncello No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007
–       Courante: From the Suite for Violoncello No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007
–       Violin Concerto in  A Minor, BWV 1041
–       Andante: From the Sonata in C Major for Violin Solo, BWV 1005
–       Allegro: From the Sonata for Violin and Continuo, BWV 1023

I am sure you will agree with me that the ultimate purpose of violin lessons cannot be the simple mastery of individual pieces. The impressions that we acquire through intense exposure to music and an instrument are much more important. These impressions will accompany your child for a lifetime, cultivate character traits and motivation, impart practical experience, and above all, open an inner path to artistic and spiritual values. We are not dealing with a short-term influence of the moment, but rather a long-term sensitization of the child. Music carves a path “into the depths of the human heart” (Robert Schumann) without words or explanations and can bypass the intellect to find the most direct route.

Suzuki was convinced that children who listened to music by Johann Sebastian Bach would absorb some of his character traits and feelings.

During my studies with Dr. Suzuki in Matsumoto, Japan, he spoke many times about this subject. I quote from my notes: “When children grow up with the music of Bach, their souls will be directly influenced by Bach’s spirit with its strong personality, deep religious earnestness, desire for order, and noble character. The life forces of children sense the traits of a composer and absorb them to bring them to life in themselves. I am certain that every heart capable of feeling music will assimilate its special radiance and its clear message.”

Presenting a vivid encounter with the composer Johann Sebastian Bach, the article A Journey Back in Time to the World of Johann Sebastian Bach will provide parents and students with anecdotes, challenging tasks and information about Bach and his personal circumstances. Students and parents should read this text together. Depending on the students’ ages, the article is likely to raise many questions requiring explanation. While some students will only be able to complete the assignments with parental help, others may find them very easy. Group lessons are also an ideal forum for answering these questions, completing the assignments, or discussing particular aspects of Bach’s life in more depth.

Parents and teachers can further encourage their children and students to develop an interest in the world of music by providing appropriate books and recordings, with portraits of composers created especially for young audiences. It might also be inspiring to listen to recordings of original versions of works by Bach, especially those pieces appearing in the Suzuki Violin School. (Please see the list above.)

Bach_VivaldiOriginal Compositions and Arrangements in the Baroque Period
Many pieces which are especially popular among players and audiences can often be found in a variety of arrangements. In the Baroque Period, it was considered an honor for a composer when colleagues would make arrangements of his works. After the  motto “All is permitted that pleases!”, no less a figure than J. S. Bach made arrangements of half of the 12 Vivaldi concertos op. 3 (one for four violins, two for three violins and three for one violin) for piano, organ, or even four harpsichords with string orchestra. He transposed some of these pieces into different keys, changed bass lines and harmonies, fashioned figures to be more virtuosic, and even added or deleted measures.
See the direct comparison on the right. The lower system is by Vivaldi, the upper one shows its arrangement by Bach.

Bach’s pupil, Johann Friedrich Agricola, wrote in the year 1775 that Bach often played his pieces for violin or violoncello solo on the clavichord (a forerunner of the piano) adding chordal accompaniments to the melody.  (See Johann Nikolaus Forkel: From the first biography in 1802 about Bach, Bärenreiter-Verlag, Kassel 2004). So it is certainly not a stylistic offence to include in book 3 the Bourrée from the Suite No. 3 for Violoncello Solo as an arrangement for violin and piano in this book. This is simply a continuation of Bach’s own frequent practice and is reminiscent of his free spirit.

Arrangements in Instrumental Pedagogy
When students like a piece, they are much more willing to work intensively on difficult passages and tackle challenging technical issues like bow speed, string crossings, tempo and intonation. This is why arrangements can be such valuable additions to the lesson repertoire. Expecting students to polish etudes to the same high levels of mastery at this stage of development will usually exhaust their perseverance and enthusiasm rather quickly.

The Written Music as Foundation for Our Work
Although Suzuki frequently challenged teachers to act freely and creatively in their manner of teaching, he did want them to remain faithful to certain elements. One of these was adherence to the common repertoire used by Suzuki students throughout the world, which has enabled them to communicate in the common language of music for many years. This thought is further embodied in the homogeneity of the worldwide student and teacher training and has great merit. Nevertheless, movements for change have emerged and some Suzuki materials are coming on the market with alternative versions and different editions of some pieces.

Bach_Bourree_MagdaBourrée from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 3
Facsimile of the hand-written manuscript by Anna Magdalena Bach.

There is no Bach autograph (Urtext) of the suites for cello. Here, you see  the earliest source, a copy from 1727 in the hand of Anna Magdalena Bach.
In Revised Edition of the Violin School Volume 3, you will find alternative versions of Gavotte I and II and the Bourrée by J. S. Bach.

Upon closer examination of the three different versions of the Bourrée

–       Facsimile
–       the transcription in the original Suzuki Violin School, 1978 Edition
–       the transcription in the Revised Edition 2008

it is easy to see that none of the transcriptions may claim to be consistent with the facsimile edition, not to mention the fact that they have been transposed from the cello to the violin.

I am convinced that Johann Sebastian Bach, and Shinichi Suzuki as well, would have been extremely happy to hear children around the world play these pieces together, regardless of the arrangement. Both would have placed primary emphasis on the quality and musicality of the performances. 

Let us finish our thoughts on Bach and the use of original compositions and arrangements during the baroque period with some music from Book 5:
Gavotte I and II from Cello Suite No. 6 in D Major, BWV 1012, Johann Sebastian Bach

In the Suzuki Violin School you find two Versions for Violin Solo.
In RECITAL TRAINING, vol. 2, supplemental material for Suzuki students in book 5,
you find an additionally version for Violin & Piano.

Please listen to the da capo of Gavotte I and ENJOY!

Violin: Rudolf Gaehler
Piano and Piano Arrangement: David Andruss

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MP3 Files: Free download
Gavotte I and II from the Suite No. 6 for Cello solo, BWV 1012A.
Edition for Violin & Piano

Tuning notes

Audio file 1a Performance tempo (violin & piano) 6,18 MB
Audio file 1b Performance tempo (piano accompaniment) 6,19 MB
Audio file 1c Slow practice tempo (piano accompaniment) 5,48 MB

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How to download
Put the mouse cursor on the link for the file to be downloaded.

Right click (control + click for Mac users) then, depending on your browser select:
Save target as (Internet Explorer PC)
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You will then be prompted to choose where you want to save the file.

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Alfred Author-Kerstin Wartberg

Kerstin Wartberg received her professional musical education at the Conservatory (Musikhochschule) of Cologne, earning violin performance and teaching degrees. After her graduation in Germany, she went to Japan for two years, where she was the first German to study at the Talent Education Institute in Matsumoto, Japan. She graduated in 1981. In 1982 she became the director of the teacher-training program at the German Suzuki Institute, a position that she continues to hold today.

Kerstin Wartberg regularly organizes string workshops, courses and concerts. In 1987, she was the Director of the 8th Suzuki Method International Conference at the International Congress Center Berlin, which boasted 4000 active participants from more than 32 different countries. She is in demand to teach and lecture worldwide at universities, conservatories, conferences, workshops and festivals.

In addition to teaching in public forums, Kerstin Wartberg is the author of several teaching books and CDs, including the Step by Step series of violin exercise books and companion CDs (published by Alfred Music Publishing Co.) and Recital Training (published by Edition Peters). She drafted these series, based on Dr. Suzuki’s Method, at the Talent Education Institute in Matsumoto, Japan between 1981 and 1986, where they were approved by Dr. Suzuki and tested by numerous Suzuki teachers, their students and parents. Step by Step and Recital Training represent a source of Dr. Suzuki’s instrumental concepts as well as specific instructions concerning the individual pieces, in both written and audio form. Many of the publications are available in German, English, French and Spanish.

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S. Hunt: Praise Can Hurt

Praise is a two edged sword. Praise can nurture, but praise can hurt and handicap.
This is how I learned through a bad mistake, to praise with caution for success.

Many years ago, in my first year of teaching, non-identical 6 year old twin girls arrived at my studio for their first Suzuki viola lessons. Bella, a willowy, blue eyed blond, stepped forward and we played some beginner games together. I was delighted to see that she was going to be a very fast learner.

Having trained conscientiously, I was careful to use specific, non-personal praise. Being very careful to talk to Bella’s body rather than to her, I complimented her feet on how quickly they moved from rest position to playing position. Her bow hand got praised for making a nice soft rabbit.

“What a perfect bunny rabbit your hand has made. Your clever thumb is in just the right place, and just look at those lovely round hugger fingers.” We shook hands to the first Twinkle rhythm. “Wow, your hand did that perfectly, Bella. Well done!” Her lesson finished with a copybook bow and smiles all round.

Then it was Andrea’s turn. She was shorter than her sister with intense brown eyes and dark hair. As she stumped forward for her lesson, I thought to myself,  “On dear, I’m going to have to be careful here.”

Andrea fulfilled expectations while she made heavy weather of working out the difference between rest feet and playing feet. The rabbit, that we laboriously made together was more like a stiff little fox. I was at a loss as to what to praise, then inspiration struck.

“Your feet almost found playing feet that time. My, they are working hard. Well done, Andrea’s feet.”  “Look at the rabbit that your bow hand has made. Your hugger fingers are really trying to hang down like rabbits teeth. They are really paying attention to what we are telling them to do.”  We finished with a serious slightly awkward bow and the family trotted off home with practice assignments for the week and instructions for Mum to praise Andrea for trying, even if she didn’t quite succeed. “Yes,” her mum said, “Everything is easy for Bella. Andrea has to work so much harder.”

Next week, I was in for a surprise. Clever Bella appeared reluctant and halfhearted.I attempted to encourage her by telling her how quick she had been at her first lesson. She diffidently repeated what we had done and was obviously uneasy about trying anything new. On the other hand, little Andrea was eager to show me how hard she had worked. She was still finding it a bit of a challenge to make her hands do what we wanted, but I praised her fingers for trying.

So it went from week to week. Andrea continued to work with determination. Within two years, she joined the viola group on stage at the Suzuki National concert. “What a worker that Andrea is.” her mother would say.

Bella had long ceased to co-operate in lessons and mostly stood passively eyes averted. Her mother and I tried every trick we could think of. “Come on, Bella. You can do it. Why don’t you try, just this once, please.” After a year, Bella had switched to the cello in the hope that she would find it easier.  Her cello lessons lasted only a month.

Long after she had stopped lessons, I had puzzled about this ghost of a child, who while obviously quick and potentially talented, refused to try anything remotely challenging.

That was until I came across research by Carol Dweck at Stanford University. Dweck has shown conclusively that kids who are praised for “being talented” do less well subsequently than kids who are praised for “being a hard worker.” The “hard workers” have everything to gain in trying hard, but the “talented kids” had a lot to loose by not reproducing their good results.

This knowledge has made a huge difference to my teaching. In my studio, praising hard work and focus keeps us all moving in the right direction. Even my challenging pupils are beginning to work productively. On the odd times that I slip up and praise results and talent, you can bet your bottom dollar that practice will be skimped and the next lesson will be hard work.

Please remember, praise is a two edged sword. Praise can nurture, but praise can hurt and handicap.
_____________________________________________________

Sue Hunt was born in Bermuda and now living in the UK. She studied music at Darting College of Arts and the Conservatorium van de Vereniging Musieklyceeum, in Amsterdam.
Mother of 2 suzuki kids, now grown up, Sue teaches a small group of violists in South West London.
Sue is passionate about how the Suzuki Method develops the individual, helping to create great brains, healthy bodies and beautiful souls.

After many years of research into the best ways to help parents and children get full value from music lessons, she started the website, www.musicinpractice.com with the purpose of helping families to practice happily and productively together.

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S. Hunt: Music isn’t a Race

Learning an instrument is not a race. In music education, reaching higher playing standards is not about winning but about doing quality work. These strategies help me calm the competitive element in my music studio.

Parents and teachers who really understand, avoid asking questions comparing each other’s children such as, “What book are you in?” or,  “What music are you working on?” I am more interested in knowing what aspect of playing you are working on. This can mean posture, tone, shifting, et cetera. No matter where our children are in the repertoire, we are always aiming to bring them to higher levels of performance, whatever music they might play.

You can encourage this in your studio every time you put on a recital. Get each child to choose music at least half a book back from the one they are currently working on. Announce to the audience what specific playing technique the child has been working on. Ask children to focus on how beautifully they can play their music and not on level of difficulty of what music they are going to play. For instance, if a child has been working on a relaxed bow hold, I ask the audience to recognize and appreciate the hard work and effort this child has put into it. The music is the vehicle to demonstrate how well the child can perform this specific skill.
Choosing music from an earlier book allows us to play it more beautifully by adding more layers of skill, which we might not have been able to do when it was new.

On informal occasions, such as group music lessons where children have individual performance opportunities, I get them to play one of their earlier pieces. When the applause has died down, I encourage the other children to mention one good thing that they have noticed about the performance. They are getting really good at noticing improvements in posture and technique. It is lovely to see the performer stand slightly taller with each sincere compliment.

Sometimes, I get each parent at the group music lesson or concert to write down 3 good things that they noticed about each performer’s playing. I then compile the comments into affirmation certificates for each child. We present these at private lessons with the words, “You are such a hard worker!” I’m always delighted by the child’s extra efforts in the rest of the lesson.

_____________________________________________________

Sue Hunt was born in Bermuda and now living in the UK. She studied music at Darting College of Arts and the Conservatorium van de Vereniging Musieklyceeum, in Amsterdam.
Mother of 2 suzuki kids, now grown up, Sue teaches a small group of violists in South West London.
Sue is passionate about how the Suzuki Method develops the individual, helping to create great brains, healthy bodies and beautiful souls.

After many years of research into the best ways to help parents and children get full value from music lessons, she started the website, www.musicinpractice.com with the purpose of helping families to practice happily and productively together.

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S. Hunt: The Right Kind of Praise

Praise is a good thing, isn’t it?  We’re always told that the children should be praised. After all, we want to improve their self-esteem. BUT, did you know that praising your children for their intelligence can make a them anxious and unprepared to deal with failure, creating a generation of Praise Junkies.
Yes, praise IS good but it’s all about using the right kind of praise.
Sue Hunt on Praise 1a

Claudia Mueller and Carol Dweck, researchers at Columbia University, conducted studies on over 400 fifth graders in comparing children who are praised for their intelligence and with those who are praised for their focus and hard work. One randomly selected group was told, “You must be smart at these problems.” The rest of the students were told, “You must have worked really hard on these problems.” Subsequent tests the students who are praised for their effort to improved their scores by at least 30% of the students who are praised for intelligence actually got worse by 20%. When children were allowed to choose a task, those who are told they were smart chose questions they knew they would do well on, whereas those who are told that they had worked hard chose harder tasks that they thought they might learn something from.

Next the students worked on some really challenging problems. Again they found the students who had been praised to their intelligence, lost confidence in their ability and they soon began to struggle. When the problems were made easier again these students still did poorly, whereas the students who are praised for their efforts and focus continued to improve.

Finally when they were asked to report on their scores anonymously, almost 40% of the intelligence praised students lied. Apparently they were so concerned with their performance that they couldn’t admit mistakes while only 10% of the students praised for their focus and hard work embellished their results.

Here are some useful strategies you can use with your own children. Make sure that you praise the focus rather than the results.  With a little work your repertoire will grow.

No. 1:  You really studied for your test and the marks show that you really read the notes, and tested yourself on them. What a result!

No. 2:  I like the way you kept on trying all sorts of strategies on that puzzle until you finally cracked it.

No. 3: That was a long hard bit of homework. You stayed there and gave it all you had. You really focused and kept right on working till it was completed. I’m proud of you.

No. 4:   I love the way you have taken on that tough project. It will take a lot of work what with all that research and practice you will need to do. Think of all the exciting things you are going to learn along the way.

No. 5:   For those students who gets top marks without trying: That piece was way too easy for you.  Let’s do something more advanced that you can really learn from.

No. 6:   Finally, what about the student who doesn’t do too well even though he works hard? I liked the energy and work you put in. Let’s have another look at it and see if we can make sense of what’s still puzzling you.

We want to keep students focused not on any “natural” ability that they may or may not have, but on the process of learning – their ability to stay with it and figure things out.  It is not with ability, but with focus and tenacity, that your children’s horizons will become truly unlimited.

“I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance.  It overcomes almost everything, even nature.”  John D Rockefeller, the world’s first billionaire, who was famous for being able to focus so deeply that no one could interrupt him for up to 5 minutes at a time.

_____________________________________________________

Sue Hunt was born in Bermuda and now living in the UK. She studied music at Darting College of Arts and the Conservatorium van de Vereniging Musieklyceeum, in Amsterdam.
Mother of 2 suzuki kids, now grown up, Sue teaches a small group of violists in South West London.
Sue is passionate about how the Suzuki Method develops the individual, helping to create great brains, healthy bodies and beautiful souls.

After many years of research into the best ways to help parents and children get full value from music lessons, she started the website, www.musicinpractice.com with the purpose of helping families to practice happily and productively together.

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S. Hunt: 10 Tips for Making Violin Lessons Fun

10 Tips for Making Violin Lessons Fun

Please imagine:
Your music school invites interested parents to present them their programs for preschoolers.
You have only 4 or 5 minutes …  to tell them about the most important points for Suzuki lessons and practice. Please look at the video below.

10 Tips for Making Violin Lessons Fun

Music teaching lessons can be expensive.  How can we make sure that it is a worthwhile investment.  We all know that music teaching lessons can make you brighter because of the workout that music gives the brain. 
Hang on a moment…… music by itself don’t make you brighter, it is the practice that does the trick. So, how do we stack the deck in favor of your child benefitting from music teaching lessons?

There are many things which you can do to optimse the process. The following 10 points will help make the most of your investment in music lessons.

No. 1: A small child will learn more easily with the help of a loving practice partner. Your job is to support and encourage your children, not to criticise.

No. 2: Attend your child’s music lessons and make notes. You can use these to plan practice sessions.  If you write each task on a card, you can use them for lucky dip games.  These really help empower children.

No. 3: Set goals. Keep a record, in practice book, of what you have done in each practice.  Your teacher will give you useful feedback during music lessons.  It will help, to put assignments on separate cards and write the practice points on them, as they come up.

No. 4: Keep the practice time short. You don’t want to strain vulnerable young muscles, or to make children feel trapped in a situation, from which they can’t escape.  Aim to stop before the first yawn.  If your child wants more, you can do another mini practice later in the day.

No. 5: Move at each child’s pace. Learning an instrument isn’t a race. Your children are children and when you remember this, it makes it easier not to pile on the pressure.  Focus on all the wonderful things that your children are achieving through music lessons and celebrate with them.

No. 6: Set aside time for reviewing old pieces. Children improve their musical ability by repeating what they already know.  The brain and body, both need about 10.000 correct repetitions to turn knowledge into ability.  What is learnt in early music lessons, is an important foundation for further development.

No. 7: Plan regular practice times. You will find it easier to make practices happen if they are linked to a regular event in your family’s daily life.  After breakfast is a great time as everyone is generally still fresh.

No. 8: Ask, don’t tell. Children who are engaged in practice, stand a greater chance of internalizing what has been taught in music lessons, unlike those who are just ordered around.

No. 9: Have a good collection of music practice games to hand and use them regularly. Children almost always respond better to games than to dry instruction.  Everyone learns better, when they are enjoying the process. There are lots of music practice games for making music fun.

No. 10:  Praise, praise, praise. Healthy praise is honest and directed towards your children’s efforts and focus, rather than the clever things they can do. Listen to how your teacheruses praise, during music lessons and copy at home.

Good luck with implementing these points. They will take you a long way, towards making music teaching lessons fun and profitable for both you and your children.

_____________________________________________________

Sue Hunt was born in Bermuda and now living in the UK. She studied music at Darting College of Arts and the Conservatorium van de Vereniging Musieklyceeum, in Amsterdam.
Mother of 2 suzuki kids, now grown up, Sue teaches a small group of violists in South West London.
Sue is passionate about how the Suzuki Method develops the individual, helping to create great brains, healthy bodies and beautiful souls.

After many years of research into the best ways to help parents and children get full value from music lessons, she started the website, www.musicinpractice.com with the purpose of helping families to practice happily and productively together.

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Web Resources Nos. 1-39

GREAT WEB RESOURCES FOR TEACHERS and PARENTS
These web pages contain very useful material to assist your efforts in educating and teaching. There is a lot in this list that can be used as the basis for parents and teacher training.

If you know of a good link that belongs in this list, please click here to tell us about it.

No. 1: SHINICHI SUZUKI: Pioneer of Music Education

Short description:
The greater part of the information used in this biography was contributed by Shinichi Suzuki himself and his wife. All photographs shown here were given to me by Mrs Waltraud Suzuki in 1995. Unless otherwise stated, the quotations are excerpts from Dr. Suzuki’s work.

CONTENTS

  • Suzuki’s Family Background – Life between Tradition and Progress
  • Childhood and Youth – “First Character, then Ability”
  • Decisive Years – “I felt that something was always leading me”
  • Waltraud – His great Help behind the Scenes
  • Saino-Kyoiku – “Teaching” may lead to Failure, “Helping on” not
  • America – The Country of unlimited Opportunities
  • Japan – A Country striving for a better World
  • International Cooperation – A Contribution towards international Understanding

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language(s): German and English
Download size: 44 pages 1150 Kb


No. 2: 
The first 10 teaching steps for a young violin student

English Translation: Dietmar Paul Roehrig
Short description: Introductory Lessons for Pre-Twinklers

1. Positioning the feet and bowing
2. Holding the bow
3. Holding the violin
4. First Twinkle Rhythm
5. String crossing from E to A & Rhythm on A
6. Left hand posture & positioning the fingers
7. Preparation technique & the rhythm with three fingers
8. Expanding the tonal range
9. The first Twinkle variation
10. We all play the Twinkle variation and the theme

Autor: Kerstin Wartberg
Language: English
Download size: 12 pages, 1228 Kb

 


No. 3: The Parent-Child Relationship
by Sharron Beamer
In this article, reproduced from Suzuki Word magazine, Sharron Beamer explains the parent-child relationship that must be developed for a joyful and mutually beneficial Suzuki experience.


No. 4: Dear Suzuki Parent

by Sharron Beamer
This article provides advice to the new Suzuki parent and starts with the words:
“Dear Suzuki Parent, Welcome to the Suzuki family. This advice is based on nearly twenty years of teaching experience. I offer it to you only because I know it works.”


No. 5:
Antonio Vivaldi (1678 – 1741)


Concerto in G Minor for violin op. 12, no. 1, R.V. 317
Malipiero Edition Violin solo: Liana Mosca Piano accompaniment: Natalia Kotsioubinskaia Piano arrangement: Arturo Sacchetti Recorded: January 2010 This download contains a play along set with MP3 files in high quality and sheet music with PDF files.


Free download, Audio files:
MP3 (14145 Kb)
Free download, Sheet music: PDF (145 Kb)

Vivaldi CD now available!

Antonio Vivaldi Violin Concertos in G Minor (R.V. 317) and A Minor (R.V. 356) Malipiero Edition. The A Minor Concerto, Op. 3, No. 6,is recorded in two versions, one of them is a slow version for practicing.

Sheet music
Free download,first mvt.
: PDF (49 KB)
Free download, second mvt.
: PDF (29 KB)
Free download, third mvt. :PDF (42 KB)

Listen to this beautiful recording and be inspired by the spirit of Vivaldi in the Malipiero version! Violin solo: Liana Mosca Piano accompaniment: Natalia Kotsioubinskaia Piano arrangement: Arturo Sacchetti
To buy the CD please contact info@smcrecords.it or www.smcrecords.it


No. 6:
MY FIRST VIOLIN SONGS (12,2 MB)

PRE-TWINKLE (PACK 1)
Edited by Kerstin Wartberg
These Pre-Twinkle Songs are similar to the first songs in the Step-by-Step series.
In Pack 1 you will find new songs, old ones rerecorded in a slightly slower tempo or with some other small changes.

Rudolf Gaehler, violin
Gino Romero Ramirez, djembé (african drum)
David Andruss, piano and piano arrangements for all recorded pieces

Listen to the example audio file (here only in low quality):
Violin Song No. 7 (violin and piano)
Example pages: FREE DOWNLOAD
Pre-Twinkle Songs (Pack 1) contains a play along set with MP3 files in high quality and sheet music (12,2 MB):

  • The Tuning Notes
  • 9 Songs with the First Twinkle Rhythm
  • MP3 Files: Sheet music

Related items:
My First Violin Songs
Pre-Twinkle Songs (Pack 2)
Pre-Twinkle Songs (Pack 3)

 

No. 7: 18 Benefits of Playing a Musical Instrument

By Michael Matthewshttp://www.effectivemusicteaching.com/articles/directors/18-benefits-of-playing-a-musical-instrument/

The Chinese philosopher Confucius said long ago that “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.” Playing a musical instrument has many benefits and can bring joy to you and to everyone around you. This article will provide you with 18 benefits of playing an instrument (in no particular order) and will hopefully give you a better sense of appreciation and pride for music.


No. 8:
Interview with John Kendall

Suzuki Method pioneer in the United States
http://www.classicalmusiccity.com/search/video.php?vars=1654%2FJohn-Kendall-Interview.html

In this interview, Mr. Kendall speaks on a variety of topics, both musical and non-musical:
Biographical: From Farming to Violin

Spirituality
About Suzuki Teachers
About Teaching
On Etudes
About Waldorf Education
What are you learning?

 

No.9: Lasting Impressions


Short description:
Memories of my studies with Shinichi Suzuki at the Talent Education Institute in Matsumoto (Japan) with numerous photographs.

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language:
English
Download size: 4 pages, 615 Kb

 

No. 10: Fortschritt durch Wiederholung (German text)

Kurzbeschreibung:
Dieser Aufsatz richtet sich an Schülereltern und will ihnen Anregungen zu dem Thema Wiederholung geben.

Autor: Kerstin Wartberg
Language:
German
Download size: 3 pages, 78 Kb

 

No. 11: Progress Through Repetition (English)
Translation: Mike Hoover

Short description:
This article is directed towards the students’ parents and attemps to stimulate ideas for repetition.

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language:
English
Download size: 3 pages, 78 Kb

 

No. 12: PROGRESAR A TRAVÉS DE LA REPETICIÓN (Spanish)

Translation: PIANO SUZUKI VALENCIA ORRIOLS
Kurzbeschreibung:
Dieser Aufsatz richtet sich an Schülereltern und will ihnen Anregungen zu dem Thema Wiederholung geben.

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language:
Spanish
Download size: 3 pages , 78 Kb

 

No. 13: Nur was gepflegt wird, kann sich auch entfalten! (German)

Short description: Auszüge einer Ansprache von Dr. Suzuki an Schülereltern, Matsumoto (Japan) im August 1982. Seine Themen waren

1. Die Bedeutung des täglichen Übens
2. Die regelmäßige Wiederholung der bereits erlernten Stücke
3. Die Bedeutung des Musikhörens für die musikalische Entwicklung

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language: German
Download size: 2 pages, 126 Kb


No. 14:
Only that which is cultivated can also develop! (English)

Translation: Mike Hoover

Short description:
1. The Importance of Daily Practice
2. The Regular Review of Previously Learned Pieces
3. The importance of musical listening for the musical development

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language:
English
Download size: 2 pages, 126 Kb


No. 15: Die Muttersprachenmethode – Kurzfassung

Kurzbeschreibung: Handzettel, geeignet als Presseinformation oder für einen Elternabend

Author: Kerstin Wartberg

Language: German
Download size: 2 pages, 392 Kb

No. 16: The Mother-Tongue Method (English)

Translation: Mike Hoover
Short description: Flyer suitable a parental meeting.
Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language:
English
Download size: 2 pages, 351 Kb


No. 17:
Welchen Einfluß hat Musikerziehung auf die Entwicklung Ihres Kindes? (German)

Kurzbeschreibung: Folgende Aspekte werden beleuchtet:

1. Was sagt die heutige Wissenschaft dazu?
2. Was sagen die Eltern musizierender Kinder dazu?
3. Welchen Samen möchtest Du aussäen?

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language:
German
Download size: 3 pages, 126 Kb


No. 18:
What influence does music education have on your child’s development? (English)

Translation: Mike Hoover

1. What does the current scientific research say?
2. What do parents of children who actively participate in music say?
3. Which seed do you want to sow?

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language:
English
Download size: 3 pages, 218 Kb

 

No. 19: Johann Sebastian Bach in der Suzuki Violinschule (German)

Short description: Johann Sebastian Bach ist der am häufigsten vertretene Komponist in der Suzuki Violinschule. Seine Kompositionen finden wir in den meisten Heften, also auf jeder Entwicklungsstufe. Suzuki war davon überzeugt, daß Kinder, die der Musik von Johann Sebastian Bach lauschen, einige seiner Wesenszüge und Empfindungen spüren: „Wenn ein Kind mit der Musik von Bach aufwächst, so steht die Seele des Kindes unter dem direkten Einfluß von Bachs kraftvoller Persönlichkeit, seinem tief religiösen Ernst, seinem Ordnungswillen und seinem noblen Charakter. Die Lebenskraft des Kindes bewirkt, daß es die Charakterzüge des Komponisten empfinden und in sich lebendig machen kann. Ich bin sicher, daß jedes Herz, das sich seiner Musik öffnet, auch Bachs besondere Ausstrahlung und seine klare Botschaft in sich aufnehmen wird.“

Auch die Themen Original und Bearbeitung in der Barockzeit sowie Bearbeitungen im Instrumentalunterricht finden in diesem Artikel Beachtung.

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language:
German
Download size: 4 pages, 573 Kb


No. 20: Johann Sebastian Bach in the Suzuki Violin School (English)

Translation: Mike Hoover

Short description: Johann Sebastian Bach is the most frequently encountered composer in the Suzuki Violin School, appearing in most of the books, and consequently at each developmental level. Suzuki was convinced that children who listened to music by Johann Sebastian Bach would absorb some of his character traits and feelings: “When children grow up with the music of Bach, their souls will be directly influenced by Bach’s spirit with its strong personality, deep religious earnestness, desire for order, and noble character. The life forces of children sense the traits of a composer and absorb them to bring them to life in themselves. I am certain that every heart capable of feeling music will assimilate its special radiance and its clear message.”

Further topics are:
Original Compositions and Arrangements in the Baroque Period
Arrangements in Instrumental Pedagogy

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language:
English
Download size: 4 pages, 454 Kb

 

No. 21: Zeitreise in Johann Sebastians Welt (German)

Short description: Um diese lebendige Begegnung mit dem Komponisten Johann Sebastian Bach zu fördern, finden Kinder und ihre Eltern im Artikel Zeitreise in Johann Sebastian Bachs Welt Geschichten, Ratespiele und Informationen über ihn und seine Lebensumstände. Diese Texte sollten Eltern mit ihren Kindern gemeinsam lesen, denn sicherlich werden bei Kindern, je nach Altersstufe, ganz unterschiedliche Fragen auftauchen und Erläuterungen notwendig sein. Manche werden die Rätsel nur mit Unterstützung ihrer Eltern lösen können, andere werden sie als sehr leicht empfinden. Der Gruppenunterricht bietet eine gute Gelegenheit, Geschichten näher zu beleuchten, Rätsel aufzulösen oder einzelne Aspekte in gemeinsamen Gesprächen mit Kindern und Eltern zu vertiefen.

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language:
German
Download size: 6 Seiten, 878 Kb


No. 22:
A JOURNEY BACK IN TIME TO THE WORLD OF JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (English)

Translation: Mike Hoover

Short description: Presenting a vivid encounter with the composer Johann Sebastian Bach, the article A Journey Back in Time to the World of Johann Sebastian Bach will provide parents and students with anecdotes, challenging tasks and information about Bach and his personal circumstances. Students and parents should read this text together. Depending on the students’ ages, the article is likely to raise many questions requiring explanation. While some students will only be able to complete the assignments with parental help, others may find them very easy. Group lessons are also an ideal forum for answering these questions, completing the assignments, or discussing particular aspects of Bach’s life in more depth.

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language:
English
Download size: 6 pages, 967 Kb


No. 23:
The Art of Suzuki Graduation (English)

Short description: Dr Suzuki devised the graduation level system to reward children for a job well done. The teacher decides if a child is ready to graduate at a particular level, and then works together with child and parent to produce a tape that can be presented to Dr Suzuki for his comments…

Autor: Cathy Shepheard
Language: English
Download size: 3 pages, 16 Kb

 

No. 24: Übeplan (Schritt für Schritt, Band 1A und 1B)

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language;
German
Download size: 1 page, 142 Kb

 
No. 25: Practice Plan (Step by Step, vol. 1A and 1B)

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language:
English
Download size:
1 page, 98 Kb


No. 26:
Übeplan (Schritt für Schritt, Band 2A)

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language:
German
Download size: 1 page, 108 Kb

 

No. 27: Practice Plan (Step by Step, vol. 2A)

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language:
English
Download size: 1 page, 108 Kb

 

No. 28: Übeplan (Schritt für Schritt, Band 2B)

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language:
German
Download size: 1 page, 142 Kb


No. 29:
Practice Plan (Step by Step, vol. 2B)

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language(s):
English
Download size: 1 page, 86 Kb


No. 30:
Übeplan (Schritt für Schritt, Band 3A)

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language:
German
Download size: 1 page, 86Kb

 

No. 31: Practice Plan (Step by Step, vol. 3A)

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language:
English
Download size: 1 page, 80 Kb


No. 32:
URKUNDE (Schritt für Schritt, Band 3B)

Kurzbeschreibung:(Schülername)… hat alle technischen Basisübungen der Unterstufe (Heft 1-3) mit Erfolg abgeschlossen und darf nun zur Mittelstufe (Heft 4-7 = Vorspiel-Training 1-3) übergehen.
1. Ton- und Vibratoübungen
2. Lagenübungen
3. Übungen für die linke Hand
4. Bogenübungen
5. Doppelgriff- und Akkordübungen
6. Paganini Motion

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language:
German
Download size: 1 page, 176 Kb


No. 33:
GRADUATION CERTIFICATE (Step by Step, vol. 3B)

Short description:

(Student’s Name)… has successfully completed all fundamental technical exercises for the elementary level (Books 1-3) and can now proceed to the intermediate level (Books 4-7 = Recital Training 1-3).

1. Tone and Vibrato exercises
2. Position Exercises
3. Exercises for the Left Hand
4. Bow Exercises
5. Double Stop and Chord Exercises
6. Paganini Motion

Author: Kerstin Wartberg
Language:
English
Download size: 1 page, 165 Kb


No. 34:
Die musikalische Erziehungsmethode Shinichi Suzukis und die moderne Gehirnforschung (German)

Short description: Immer wieder wird nach der Übertragbarkeit der Suzuki-Methode gefragt.

Peter Heitkämper untersucht die verschiedenen Aspekte in der fernöstlichen und westlichen Erziehungsweise und setzt sich mit folgenden Themen auseinander:

1. Suzuki und die musikalische Sozialisation
2. Selbstdisziplin, Genauigkeit, Üben und Gehirnforschung
3. Motorik, Intelligenz, Musik und Gehirnforschung
4. Gedächtnis
5. Nachahmung und Kreativität

Autor: Der Verfasser des Artikels ist Prof. Dr. Peter Heitkämper. Er lehrt an der Universität Münster

Pädagogische Anthropologie im Fachbereich Erziehungswissenschaft.

Language(s): German
Download size: 5 Pages, 112 Kb


No. 35:
Comparisation: Veracini Gigue
Compare two editions and see the differences between them:

First system = the Original Suzuki Violin School (Edition 1978)
Second system = the Revised Suzuki Violin School (Edition 2010)

This document will help you to learn the new bowings of the revised edition. There are 56 measures in Veracini Gigue. In 36 measures bowings have changed.

PDF-File: 3 pages


No. 36:
Test file: G Major Scale (3 octaves)

Short description:1. Half notes2. Quarter notes3. One quarter + 6 eighth notesPlease test this scale with your students and give me a feedback!

This arrangement is composed by David Andruss and is a test file for Recital Training, vol. 2 (based on Suzuki, vol. 5)

Download:
Mp3 Scale_3_Oktaves_G Major

 

No. 37: Arcangelo Corelli, LA Folia

Arranged for Three Violins by Kerstin Wartberg
Short description
Violin 1: You can use the violin part in book 6

Free Download

La Folia (Score)
Corelli_La_Folia_Vl_2
Corelli_La_Folia_Vl_3

This piece was successfully performed at the European Teachers Convention in 2011. Bela Detreköy conducts the Suzuki teachers orchestra.

 

No. 38: Bowed violin string in slow motion

This movie shows the Helmholtz corner traveling back and forth along the string. The G string was tuned down in order to increase the amplitude of motion.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=6JeyiM0YNo4 * *

 

No. 39: Enjoying Violin Technique, Vol. 2A
by Kerstin Wartberg

ONE and TWO Octave Scales & Arpeggios for Suzuki Violin Students in Books 3-5
Piano Arrangements by David Andruss

FREE DOWNLOAD:

Violin book (35 pages) and piano accompaniments (95 pages)

Print Friendly

J. Macmillan: Piano Teaching Ideas


Ideas drawn from my experiences as a Suzuki teacher

Enjoy your teaching more and help your pupils play better
by Jenny Macmillan

  • Lessons – motivation and encouragement
  • Practising – making repetition interesting
  • Performing – opportunities and rewards
  • Group work – fun with games
  • Ensemble work – doubling up in duets and trios
  • Listening – to recordings and live performances
  • Observing – other pupils’ lessons
  • Young pupils – singing and rhythm games
  • Involving parents – in lessons and practising
  • Developing memory – playing by ear
  • Building repertoire – favourite pieces
  • Theory and aural – the early stages
  • Sight-reading – duets with teacher
  • Scales and arpeggios – introducing variety



LESSONS – motivation and encouragement

  • Give honest praise followed by positive ideas for improvement
  • Emphasise pupil’s strong points – build self-esteem
  • Teach one thing at a time – thoroughly
  • Achievement of small manageable targets motivates pupils
  • Pleasure/satisfaction of knowing a piece is played well in lesson or concert
  • Boredom sets in when too much playing straight through pieces and not enough working on details
  • Football teams game – favourite and least favourite – favourite team scores if assignment played correctly, and vice versa
  • Group lessons
  • Ensemble work
  • Observing lessons



PRACTISING – making repetition interesting

  • Set short sections, making it clear in what way the music/technique is to be improved, and doing it together several times in lesson
  • Let child choose number of repetitions, or roll dice, or age number – if mistake, start again
  • Count down towards zero – heightens concentration
  • Tally/chart
  • Smartie for every 10 correct repetitions
  • Make jigsaw, colour square, colour in picture, do dot-to-dot for every (10) repetitions
  • Lucky dip with practice points or complete pieces
  • Practise last bar of phrase 4x, last 2 bars 4x, last 3 bars, etc
  • Vary repetitions, eg staccato/legato, different rhythms, different 8ves, increase difficulty eg practise leaping 2 8ves instead of 1 8ve
  • Explain what is to be practised, and why, and how



PERFORMING – opportunities and rewards

Regular performance opportunities at different levels

  • Individual lessons – observers
  • Group lessons – perform pieces prepared/unprepared/sight-read/ensemble
  • Informal concerts in teacher’s music studio
  • Formal concerts in hired halls
  • Combined concerts with other teachers, other instuments
  • National performing opportunities
  • Home concerts – 2 or 3 families get together, all bringing something for tea afterwards
  • Children perform weekly to family; or teddy bear concert – issue tickets
  • Follow concerts with tea parties and social events
  • Reward with an outing, especially musical



GROUP WORK – fun with games

  • Finger games
  • Rhythm games – clapping/tapping
  • Singing games
  • Flash cards – note naming games, rhythm games
  • Dynamics game – all crouch down and whisper “pianissimo”, start to stand up and say “piano”, etc, until standing up straight with arms stretched up and shout “fortissimo”
  • Spot the mistake – teacher plays pieces with mistakes for pupils to hear and/or see, eg playing too near edge of keyboard, heavy thumb, wrong key, wrong LH, inaccurate rhythm
  • Wrong note game – children sit in pairs with hands outstretched, one child’s hands over partner’s hands; teacher plays a piece; if child hears a mistake, tries to slap hands of partner, who tries to pull hands away
  • Major/minor – pupils play a major piece in a minor key or a minor piece in a major key
  • Sock improvisations – 2 pupils at 2 keyboards – put socks on hands and play glissandi and clusters, etc, varying speed, dynamics, register, etc
  • Pentatonic improvisations – 2 pupils improvise question and answer on black notes
  • Lucky dip – each pupil has box with pieces of paper with names of pieces s/he can play – draws one out and performs it
  • Matching pieces – several pupils play same piece one after another, encouraged to make positive comments about each others’ performances
  • Football – at 2 keyboards – one child starts playing piece; when teacher indicates, other child takes over – ‘passes the ball’; or one child plays RH while other plays LH
  • Playing questions – one child plays familiar piece, meanwhile answering questions posed by other children, eg what is your name, telephone number, etc
  • Cross hands – play piece with hands crossed
  • Continuous scales – take turns to play a scale round circle of 5ths at 2 keyboards
  • Dynamic scales – pupil takes card indicating dynamic and/or speed and plays scale accordingly; others guess dynamic/speed
  • Sight-read double duets/trios – 4 or 6 pupils at 2 keyboards
  • Follow the score – give each pupil a copy of some music; discuss all the signs, notes, rhythms, as appropriate to the stage of the children; then teacher plays some of the piece and pupils point to place in score where teacher stops



ENSEMBLE WORK – doubling up in duets and trios

  • Duets for pupils of similar age, or older with younger pupils
  • Family duets/trios with siblings or parents
  • Sight-read/prepared ensembles
  • One pupil accompany another
  • Pentatonic improvisations – 2 pupils improvise question and answer on black notes
  • Sock improvisations – 2 pupils at 2 keyboards – put socks on hands and play glissandi and clusters, etc, varying speed, dynamics, register, etc



LISTENING – to recordings and live performances

  • To fine performances
  • To pieces being learnt – about to be learnt – current repertoire
  • To other pieces by same composers
  • To other music for own instrument
  • To classical music, especially choral (singing sounds) and orchestral (sounds of different instruments)
  • To CDs, radio, and especially to live performances – excitement of an outing



OBSERVING – other pupils’ lessons

  • Observe another pupil ideally a little older and more advanced after pupils’ own lesson
  • Can be more receptive if something explained to another pupil – when not in hot-seat
  • Motivating for pupil and parent
  • Social benefit – helps prevent feeling of isolation (especially for pianists)
  • Pupils become accustomed to having an audience while playing; also to sitting quietly, colouring and listening, while observing other pupils


YOUNG PUPILS – singing and rhythm games

Change activity frequently – pool of ideas

  • Right and left – play Simon Says, eg “Simon says put RH on nose” – pupils must do it; but “Put RH on nose” – don’t do it! When teaching any pair concept, teach only one of a pair for a long time, then there is no confusion.
  • Finger games – name and wiggle Mr Men fingers (Mr 1, Mr 2, etc); speed games – “Put your hands behind your back and take out Mr 1” or “Put Mr 2 on your nose”; cummulative fingers – say and move fingers, eg 1, 1-2, 1-2-5 – add a finger each time
  • Hold bubble and 10 finger dome – drop hands by side, then lift them up and pretend to hold bubble in each hand; gently place together thumbs, Mr 2s, Mr 3s, etc; tap fingers as requested by teacher; hold finger dome over head so cannot see
  • Strong finger Os – make O-shape between Mr 1 and Mr 2, or Mr 1 and Mr 3, etc, squeezing tightly – no collapsing joints
  • Finger wrestling – link finger Os with another pupil and pull – who has the strongest fingers?
  • Pick up pencil – using thumb and specified finger – plenty of thumb and fingertip movement
  • Copy me game – pupils copy teacher’s actions, keeping steady beat, eg clapping hands, tapping knees, etc, adding an extra action on each repetition
  • Pass the ball – one child or teacher plays a piece while others pass squashy ball round circle, passing to the next person on the beat, using specified fingers, eg RH Mr 1 and Mr 2, or Mr 1 and Mr 5
  • Action songs
  • Copycat rhythms
  • What piece is this – clap rhythm or play melody
  • Miming game – teacher mimes piece at piano for pupils to identify
  • Spot the mistake – teacher plays pieces with mistakes for pupils to hear and/or see, eg playing too near edge of keyboard, heavy thumb, wrong key, wrong LH, inaccurate rhythm
  • Wrong note game – children sit in pairs with hands outstretched, one child’s hands over partner’s hands; teacher plays a piece; if child hears a mistake, tries to slap hands of partner, who tries to pull hands away
  • Sing nursery rhymes – loud then soft, or fast then slow



INVOLVING PARENTS – in lessons and practising

  • Parents attend lessons and take notes (perhaps have lessons themselves)
  • Parents supervise practice – discuss with pupil what is to be done and how, and guide practice accordingly
  • Make practice chart for child to follow
  • Make lucky dip for practice points
  • Offer plenty of encouragement and moral support in gentle enthusiastic manner
  • Stimulate child’s natural desire to learn – make practice interesting rather than fun



DEVELOPING MEMORY – playing by ear

  • Playing from memory never an issue if children always used to listening to sounds and working out notes for themselves and playing from memory
  • Start by setting easy pieces from memory
  • Each lesson ask for more from memory



BUILDING REPERTOIRE – favourite pieces

  • Sense of satisfaction and achievement from being able to sit down anytime anywhere and play favourite repertoire pieces from memory
  • Pupil add a piece each month (or week, or term) to repertoire
  • Work regularly on old repertoire pieces so pupil learns to play them more and more musically



THEORY AND AURAL – the early stages

Studied in group lessons
Theory

  • Flash cards – note naming and rhythm games
  • Telephone game – place in front of each child a card with a rhythm on it; teacher claps one of the rhythms; child whose rhythm it is answers the call by clapping the rhythm back and turning the card face down
  • Right or wrong rhythm – lay out row of rhythm flash cards; teacher clap rhythm; pupils say whether or not clapped correctly
  • Rhythmic counterpoint – lay out rhythm flash cards in two rows; teacher or pupil clap one row and others say which was clapped; half group clap one row, other half clap other row; clap one row with RH, other with LH; add dynamics
  • Follow the score – give each pupil a copy of some music; discuss all the signs, notes, rhythms, as appropriate to the stage of the children; then teacher plays some of the piece and pupils point to place in score where teacher stops
  • Dynamics game – all crouch down and whisper “pianissimo”, start to stand up and say “piano”, etc, until standing up straight with arms stretched up and shout “fortissimo”
  • Tempo game – all walk very slowly round room saying “adagio” four times, a little faster saying “andante”, faster saying “moderato”, much faster saying “allegro” and very fast saying “presto”

Aural

  • Listening game – all sit very quietly; teacher plays one note at piano; pupils listen carefully and raise hands when sound has completely gone; use different ranges of piano; identify high/low, short/long, soft/strong sounds
  • Listen in silence – all sit comfortably with eyes closed and listen to the silence for two minutes; then pupils say what they heard; after 30 seconds teacher can add own noise, eg tapping; CF Kim’s Game – remembering objects on tray
  • Wrong note game – children sit in pairs with hands outstretched, one child’s hands over partner’s hands; teacher plays a piece; if child hears a mistake, tries to slap hands of partner, who tries to pull hands away
  • Copycat rhythms; question and answer rhythms; question and answer melodies



SIGHT-READING – duets with teacher

  • Or 2 pupils sight-read duets in adjacent or overlapping lessons
  • Double duets or trios in group lessons – 4 or 6 pupils at 2 keyboards
  • Pupil study piece for a few moments, then from memory answer questions on piece
  • Name notes and clap rhythm
  • Mime notes
  • Play correct rhythm but improvise notes (for perfectionists who will insist on going back to correct mistakes)
  • Teacher/pupil alternate playing a bar each; or one play naturals (white notes) and other play sharps and flats (black notes)
  • Regular ‘prepared’ reading as well as reading ‘at sight’



SCALES AND ARPEGGIOS – introducing variety

  • 1-2-3-4 scale for speed and dynamic variety – set MM eg crotchet 60 and play 1 8ve slowly in crotchets forte, 2 8ves in quavers mf, 3 8ves in triplets mp, 4 8ves in semiquavers p
  • Different rhythms
  • Down then up
  • One hand forte, the other piano
  • One hand staccato, the other legato
  • Double staccato – each note 2x
  • 2 8ves apart
  • Crossed hands
  • Russian style – play 2 8ves ascending in similar motion, 2 8ves contrary motion, 2 8ves up and down in similar motion, 2 8ves in contrary motion, 2 8ves down in similar motion
  • Top 8ve 4x
  • Very fast, but stopping on each tonic
  • 1 8ve up and down until perfect 2x, then 2 8ves until perfect 2x, etc
  • MM – increasing speed when perfect 2x consecutively
  • Eyes closed

Arpeggios

  • Play chord up and down piano alternating RH and LH
  • Repeat 1 8ve up and down arpeggio – circling hand round
  • Double staccato on each note
  • Slow with good tone

     

    ************************************************************
    MacmillanJenny Macmillan has a thriving teaching practice in Cambridge and is an ESA piano teacher trainer. Her own three children all learned piano by the Suzuki approach.

    Jenny has written extensively about the Suzuki approach and her articles feature on her website:
    http://www.jennymacmillan.co.uk/

    Jenny Macmillan

 

 

She has published a book:
Successful Practising A handbook for pupils, parents and music teachers

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S. Beamer: The Parent-Child Relationship

The Parent-Child Relationship

by Sharron Beamer
[reprinted from Suzuki Word magazine, Jan.-Feb. 1985]

‘I know how to nurture my child by love. But how do I get him to practise?’

Parents often feel that these two requirements of the Suzuki Method present them with a contradiction. ‘What do I do when he refuses to practise? Do I force him? Is that nurturing him with love?’

The basis of the parent-child relationship, or of any human relationship, should be mutual respect. For too long, respect was a one-way street. Parents demanded respect from their children, but didn’t feel obliged to consider the child’s feelings or wishes.

Today the pendulum sometimes swings too far the other way. Parents feel they have to follow the child’s every lead and indulge every whim for fear of repressing him or losing his love.

The ideal is for the parent to respect what is highest and best in the child’s character, not to indulge what is petty and capricious. Parents who are firm and give their child loving guidance earn the child’s respect. They also have a right to insist that the child treats respectfully the serious and noble work they are undertaking together; the development of the child’s character to the fullest and best, enabling the child to realise his potential for achievement and independence. The ultimate aim isn’t to dominate the child, but to liberate him.

What is liberation? Maria Montessori, another great educator and champion of the child, said: ‘It is not possible to speak of free choice when all kinds of external stimuli attract a child at the same time and, having no will power, he responds to every call . . .‘ This child is not free. ‘He is .. . a slave to superficial sensations.’

Most children have some modes of behaviour that are neither attractive nor helpful to their development. A woman who saw me hugging a little pupil of mine whose behaviour was, more often than not, silly and irritating, said: ‘You must be a saint! I don’t see how you could cuddle that dreadful child.’ She didn’t see what I was seeing. I, too, saw the child’s behaviour as undesirable, but I didn’t see the child as undesirable. I truly feel all children are wonderful, almost magical people, and of a higher order than adults. I believe with Wordsworth that children are born ‘trailing clouds of glory’.

Bad behaviour is the dross that hides the gold. Not to see the gold in the child is to stunt it irrevocably. It’s like depriving a plant of sunlight and when it fails to bloom to say: ‘See, I told you it was no good.’

Parents are right to fear that to dominate the child will crush his spirit. They should also fear that to leave a child without guidance and correction is to leave him undeveloped or badly developed.

Correction, criticism and expectation should have only one aim — to elevate the child. . . to remove the dross. They should never be used to hurt, or humiliate. We must help the child to develop concentration and regular work habits so that he can progress. This leads to ability and ability leads to self-respect and independence. To me this is the great aim of the Suzuki Method. The ‘perk’ is that the child can also play the violin.

Back to our original question: ‘But how do I get him to practise?’ This is something that parents have to work out for themselves in terms of what is compatible with their own natures and what works best with their own child. However, here are some guidelines that many parents have found helpful:

Have a regular practice time. This eliminates the ‘Shall we practise now?’ problem. . . it’s 8am (or whatever) so of course we practise. Don’t answer the telephone, or be available to anyone else during this time. I had four ‘Suzuki children’ of my own to practise with. Each child knew that they shouldn’t dare to interrupt when I was practising with another. Each child’s practice time was sacred.

Make practice an inevitable part of your child‘s daily routine. It should be as regular and natural as brushing your teeth, eating meals, etc.

Enjoy the process and take seriously what you are trying to achieve. Don’t call the child to practice in a weary or angry tone of voice. Speak with enthusiasm and pleasant anticipation. Don’t think his efforts are ‘cute’. That’s condescending.

Respect the child’s achievements. Playing the violin is complex. Acknowledge the many skills the child has acquired before leaping in to correct a fault, e.g. ‘Bow hold is so good, can we get the left- hand shape just as good?’

Respect yourself. Don’t put up with any nonsense and don’t feel guilty about it. You are doing this for your child. You are a caring parent who is putting a lot of time, effort and money into this study. You have a right to insist that your child makes the most of it. My two younger children went through a period of playing me up during practice. Finally I told them firmly to put their violins in rest position, bow, and say: ‘Thank you for giving me your valuable time. I will try to be worthy of it.’ At the end of practice they had to bow and say: ‘Thank you for helping me.’ This also had the effect of reminding me to conduct the practice in a way that was worthy of thanks. Be on the side of what’s best in the child. I have never met a child that preferred a person who indulged his immature behaviour.

When correcting, use a friendly matter-of-fact tone rather than an angry or critical one. A three-year-old pupil said to me: ‘No, I don’t want to,’ just to see what would happen. Without any change in my cordial manner, I said: ‘Annie, when your violin teacher asks you to do something, you don’t say “I don’t want to”. You say “I’ll try”.’ She looked surprised and said: ‘Oh, I didn’t know that.’ When I asked again she said: ‘I’ll try’ — and she did try. We had a delightful lesson.

Keep correction impersonal. It is not necessary to say: ‘You didn’t keep your little finger on the bow.’ You could say: ‘Little finger isn’t doing his job. Could you keep a check on him?’ Little finger may be in the wrong, but the child is not.

Realise that you benefit too. You miss out on a lot if you think it is all giving to the child. If your own development was neglected, you get a second chance to grow with your child. I have always felt that my basic nature was feckless and self-indulgent, but in order to help my children I became organised and conscientious. For the sake of children I have achieved many things that I could never have achieved for myself.

Be forgiving. Parents, as well as children, behave badly sometimes. Don’t be too demoralised. It happens to us all. It is a gradual process of mutual refinement. Use each practice as an opportunity for you, too, to improve and to gain insight, intuition, imagination and patience.

My answer to the opening question is this: nurturing a child by love is getting him to practise. The parent’s job is to find out how to do this. If a child is handled correctly he comes to enjoy the discipline and routine and most of all the achievements that come with regular practice. Remember, we have our thoughts and our hearts fixed on long term goals. Dr Suzuki has the children chant to their parents: ‘. . . everything depends on the parent. Father, Mother, please guide us.’ Maria Montessori said: ‘I have seen the child as he ought to be and found him better than I could ever have supposed.’ 

 

sharronSharron Beamer was introduced to the Suzuki Method through her four children who started Suzuki violin lessons at their school. In 1978 she became a Suzuki teacher and was among the first intake of students to do the Suzuki teacher training offered by the BSI. In 1987-1988 she spent 6 months in Matsumoto, Japan studying with Dr.Suzuki himself. Dr. Suzuki called his method “Ability Development” and Sharron has always been inspired by his message that ability is not something one must be born with, but that it is something that everyone can develop. Her primary concern is to help her students to realize that they can develop ability, and to demonstrate how to go about it.

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S. Beamer: Dear Suzuki Parent

Dear Suzuki Parent

By Sharron Beamer
[reprinted from Ability Development magazine]

Welcome to the Suzuki family. This advice is based on nearly twenty years of teaching experience. I offer it to you only because I know it works.

BEFORE THE LESSON
It is essential, if you have not already done so, that you read ‘NURTURED BY LOVE’ by Shinichi Suzuki.
On the way to the lesson, discuss cheerfully with ‘our child what you expect he will do during the lesson. ‘Your review piece is really sounding good. I’m looking forward to hearing it.’ ‘I wonder if your teacher will notice how good you are getting at keeping your eyes on the bow.’ ‘Will naughty Mr One” remember to stay on the E string?’ etc.
Cut the child’s fingernails. Take him to toilet.

DURING THE LESSON
Bring a notebook (the same one each week), a pen and your diary. Check the notice board for workshops, concerts and special dates. Keep careful notes on what (and how) you are to practice.

Ask, if anything is unclear. Keep violin, music, note book, foot mat (and anything else you need) together in your ‘kit,’ a large, heavy duty shopping bag, or similar.

Unless strictly necessary, it is best if you don’t speak to your child during the lesson. The child should have only ONE teacher at a time. Sometimes your child may do something to irritate or embarrass you. Don’t worry. Your teacher may have four children of her own at home, and has probably taught hundreds of children over the years. Teachers have seen it all before. It’s best for the teacher to cope with the child in his or her own way. It is necessary for the child and teacher to form a relationship free from interference. Your teacher is quite capable of setting limits. It is important that the lessons are friendly and enjoyable. If teachers seem to be indulging a child it is for a good reason. It’s not because they can’t be firm.

On the other hand, if a teacher speaks sharply to your child, don’t be alarmed. She’s not really angry.
It’s calculated to stop the child from indulging in negative habit patterns, and the friendship for the child doesn’t alter. Please do let the teacher know if illness or trauma means they need to be especially sensitive to the child on some days.

AFTER THE LESSON
Compliment the child on what he or she did well. For example: ‘I liked the way you listened carefully to everything your teacher said’ or, ‘Wasn’t your bow hold good today! We’re really worked on that, haven’t we? All your hard work has paid off.’
If the child behaved badly it’s counter-productive to make a comment like: ‘You were so naughty.’
‘What a bad girl.’ ‘I was ashamed of you.’ It’s better to say, ‘I don’t like silliness.’ Attack the behaviour, not the child.

NO LESSON?
If a child is persistently uncooperative, a wise teacher will not get into a power struggle and reward the behaviour with lots of attention and cajoling. Your teacher will likely stop the lesson and send him or her home without the lesson sticker. Don’t worry and don’t scold. Take the child away quickly in a firm, but matter-of-fact manner. NO LESSON should always equal NO ATTENTION. Don’t worry if the child is crying. This is a good sign. Explain that you are disappointed but that you are looking forward to next week when you think he will remember that he is there to do his work, to pay attention, etc.

Bad behaviour is usually the result of one of two things: BAD BEHAVIOUR GETS ME LOTS OF ATTENTION, or I’M TOO AFRAID OF FAILURE TO TRY.

If it’s the former, WITHDRAW ATTENTION. Please don’t laugh if your child is rude or silly. Don’t rush to his defence with an excuse. ‘He’s had a bad day at school.’ ‘She’s very tired.’ Avert your gaze from the child and let the teacher deal with it. The time to tell the teacher your child is not on form is before the lesson. We don’t want to send the child the message that if he has had a bad time he is justified in giving other people a bad time. We could all be wonderful if we were never tired, ill, frustrated or annoyed. Bad behaviour remains bad behaviour, whatever the provocation. It isn’t easy for anyone of any age, but character is developed by end eavouring to do the right thing under all conditions. If it is the latter, please be aware of your comments to your child and the quality and consistency of your practice. Does your child feel unprepared? Does he fear his efforts will meet with criticism from you rather than encouragement and delight?

HOME PRACTICE
This is the golden rule: YOU GET WHAT YOU GIVE ATTENTION TO. If you want your child to be cooperative, praise him when he is cooperative even if that is only two percent of the time. CATCH HIM DOING SOMETHING RIGHT. If your child can’t maintain a bow hold but manages to get through one bar of music before the bow hold disintegrates, say delightedly, ‘Your bow hold was perfect while you played E-2-2! Can you keep it that good while you play the next bit?’ If he can’t, offer encouragement rather than criticism or contempt. ‘The fingers need more practice. Let’s remind them what to do and try again.’ It is you and the child as a team trying to coordinate fingers, arms, posture, etc., together. Be your child’s ally, not his adversary.

LISTEN TO THE TAPE, LISTEN TO THE TAPE, LISTEN TO THE TAPE!
If you are not playing the Suzuki recording every day, you are not participating in the Suzuki method. Listening to the tape is vital.

HOW MUCH PRACTICE?
Dr Suzuki often said, ‘You don’t have to practice every day. Only on the days you eat.’ No parent has ever said to me, ‘We’ve had such a busy week that I just didn’t have time to feed Judy this week. I’m going to feed her double next week to make up for it.’ For the well being of your child, so that he can realise his potential and have a positive self image, please don’t embark on this if you are not fully committed.

Dr Suzuki also said, ‘Never rush. Never rest.’
Daily practice is what generates ability.
Ability generates enthusiasm for the lesson and for practice.

This is the cycle that moves you forward. If it is broken, momentum is lost.
How much practice you should be doing depends on age and level.
Ask your teacher.

NOTHING WORKS?
You’ve tried everything. The child still wastes time. Won’t pay attention. Argues. When you arrive at the lesson you feel frustrated. You have made an enormous effort and have nothing to show for it.

You feel angry. Here is what NOT to do. DON’T BELITTLE THE CHILD IN FRONT OF THE TEACHER (or anyone else). You are his best friend, remember? It isn’t a friendly thing to do. A humiliated child can scarcely be expected to enjoy learning the violin. Talk to the teacher privately. One mother had a very difficult child. Practice was a nightmare. This went on for a year. I finally thought to ask them to keep a record of their practice and report to me any GOOD practice sessions they had. The next week I asked mother for their report. She made a great show of looking through her notes and then said cheerfully, ‘We had a really good practice on Tuesday.’ Tears came to my eyes. She didn’t need to tell me what she had been through the other six days.

How difficult it must have been for her to suppress her frustration and say something positive. That was seven years ago. Her son is still playing the violin.

It is possible to be firm without being destructive. Sometimes we assume too much. Although we may think it is obvious, a child doesn’t always realise that certain behaviour is unacceptable. A gentle, ‘Darling, it’s wrong to speak to your mummy that way,’ is sometimes enough. We cannot be rude to a child and expect polite behaviour in return, One can send a child to his room, withhold treats, etc. without humiliating the child. Insist on good behaviour. One isn’t fully human without it.

Some parents, who wouldn’t hesitate to insist that their child clean his teeth or learn his multiplication table, feel guilty when taking the same positive line about music practice. Why?

Would your adult child thank you if he were not numerate, or literate? Many, many people express regret that they were allowed to stop music lessons. Many, including my own often obdurate children, are grateful that they were made to persevere.

Keep a note book of every positive comment you make to the child during practice. (No back-handed compliments please: ‘You didn’t fool around as much as usual today,’ is not a compliment!) A better response would be, ‘I was impressed with your concentration today. It’s really getting good!’

Give the child treats: Dr Suzuki believed in them and so do I. Some parents say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to have to bribe my child. I want him to enjoy music for its own sake.’ First of all, a bribe is something one is offered for doing something immoral or illegal. A treat is a reward for a job well done. Secondly, how can a beginner enjoy making music? There is so much to learn: bow hold, posture, finger placement, tone, rhythm, string crossing and more—and we still can’t even play Twinkle yet!

Please parents, give the kid a break. Praise him. Reward him. When he looks your way, smile.

 

sharronSharron Beamer was introduced to the Suzuki Method through her four children who started Suzuki violin lessons at their school. In 1978 she became a Suzuki teacher and was among the first intake of students to do the Suzuki teacher training offered by the BSI. In 1987-1988 she spent 6 months in Matsumoto, Japan studying with Dr.Suzuki himself. Dr.Suzuki called his method “Ability Development” and Sharron has always been inspired by his message that ability is not something one must be born with, but that it is something that everyone can develop. Her primary concern is to help her students to realize that they can develop ability, and to demonstrate how to go about it.

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