memorizing by heart

Irene said: Aug 1, 2011
Irene YeongViolin
160 posts

i probably should be asking my daughter’s violin teacher, but i am just curious what other teachers think. do you ask your students to memorize a piece by heart before moving on to a new piece? my daughter can play Lightly Row by looking at the alphabets, but when I ask her to play by heart or I sing the notes and she play, it is a nightmare.

Delpha Dee Wolf said: Aug 1, 2011
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano
Lederach, PA
1 posts

If the student has been listening to siblings or recordings faithfully, it is an easy step to say to them ” Let’s see how much of this song is already stuck in your head.” It may be only a short phrase, but they are usually surprised at how much they know by heart. You may have to give them the first note or 2. I do require them to memorize before moving on, although it is helpful and refreshing for them to preview some spots from the upcoming piece.

Barb said: Aug 1, 2011
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

My students must memorize anything they are going to perform, including all Suzuki pieces. Before they move on to a new piece? That depends. Usually my students work on more than one piece at a time. I supplement early Suzuki with some other VERY easy pieces (open strings only to begin with).

I like my students to be able to sing Lightly Row by memory before they really begin to play it, learned from many repetitions of listening to the recording. Many teachers use words or the letter names of the notes. I sometimes do, but if they just sing “la la la” that’s okay, too.

My students are not as young as your daughter, but they usually memorize their music without trying very hard. It tends to happen as a matter of course after much repetition.

I am surprised your daughter’s teacher has her looking at something and not only learning by ear at this age and stage. By alphabets, do you mean the letter names of the notes? (E-C#-C#) Teachers, is it common to use a visual chart with very young students? I know some students are much more visual than others.

Did you try to break it into small bites? Celebrate when she plays the first three notes without looking, or the last two bars, etc. Like learning to walk—one step at a time. Do you have her sing it without the violin? Maybe while playing with some other toy, you could sit with her and encourage her, without pushing, to join you in singing? Would playing it slower give her more time to think and remember what comes next? Have you tried to have her help you play it when you get stuck and pretend (or not!) to forget what comes next?

I had a 5 year old student help me play a piece by memory which he was having trouble with (it was not a Suzuki piece, so it was new to me), and that seemed to take some pressure off for him. When we both weren’t sure what the note was, we turned the stand around to check the music. He was working so hard to remember without looking on this piece, and getting upset with himself. When the kids are upset and not relaxed learning is very difficult. I’m sure he felt a lot better when he saw that I got stuck, too.

I have not done this, but if she is very visual, it might help her to look at the cues, then close her eyes and still “see” them in her head.

You might also play other memory games, like “concentration” (with just a few cards to match at this age), or copying rhythms by clapping, with rhythm instruments or with bow on open string, or ear training games like copying singing a short phrase.

Keep it fun, make it easy, don’t hurry. :-)

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Kim said: Aug 1, 2011
 39 posts

When the Parents as Partners video e-conference was online last winter their was a seminar about the importance of listening. It changed how we use our Suzuki CDs. The presenter recommended listening to your current piece many times over and over. It has made a difference in our progress over here. I totally agree that if your child can easily sing or hum lightly row, it will be MUCH easier to play and maybe you should be singing it throughout the day if possible. Getting this ear to mind connection in place is so important for later learning. I have a daughter half way through book 2. Now she is picking out pieces of songs in book 3 and playing them on her own because she’s heard them enough and is confident enough in her ability. About the end of book 1, this connection suddenly clicked for her! Hang in there! :) Your daughter is SO young yet. My daughter didn’t even start until she was 4 1/2. For the record, I took Suzuki violin growing up too and I have another child doing Suzuki piano that is in book 5.

Irene said: Aug 1, 2011
Irene YeongViolin
160 posts

Delpha Dee Wolf—Hmm.. we have not been listening to the songs daily these days. Have to start on that, listen at least during dinner time.

Barb2—Now we are learning to sing Song of the Wind. At the same time, working on Lightly Row, to play without looking at notes, but that’s difficult. I thought memorising notes is something you just do when you play the piece frequent enough. By alphabets, yes, I mean the letter names of the notes as in E, C, C, D, B, B. I broke into small bites, when we first started on Lightly Row, maybe day one , first measure, second day, first and second measure. I always have her sing without the violin, that’s when she takes a break , not holding violin or bow. Last night I sing Lightly Row to her the notes like singing a lullaby before bedtime. Will continue the Lightly Row lullaby. “Have you tried to have her help you play it when you get stuck and pretend (or not!) to forget what comes next? ” This is interesting. I’ll try this one. Thanks. :)

kck10 -”Getting this ear to mind connection in place is so important for later learning.”

Thank you for all your replies. I do appreciate that,, have a nice day everyone. :)

Megan said: Sep 9, 2011
 Violin
7 posts

My daughter’s teacher has her read a section of the piece (1-2 bars or sometimes a whole line) and then has her immediately play it while we cover the section up. For every section she plays without reading the music, she earns a sticker. This has helped, as sometimes, she just doesn’t want to play it from memory!

Sue Hunt said: Sep 10, 2011
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
391 posts

Has anyone tried the method of “Note Choosing” that Ed Kreitman teaches? He makes sure that a child (who listens to the music at home) can tell if the second of a pair of notes is higher, lower or the same.

While learning “Lightly Row”, he helps them discover the difference between stepping up/down and jumping up/down an arpeggio. They can now look at “Lightly Row” in terms of: Start, jump down, same, step up, jump down, same. This is done for every subsequent piece till the child can choose the notes for herself.

Learning letter names and fingerings by heart has much less to do with the ability to make music and can be confusingly abstract for a small child. Just think of all the extra knowledge you have to teach to make it work—What finger? What string? A different formula for each piece.

“Note Choosing” works directly on the sense of hearing and leads directly to the ability to play by ear and by heart. Up, down, same? Just do what your ears tell you and you can apply it to playing any piece.

Music in Practice

Barb said: Sep 10, 2011
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Thank you, Sue, for sharing that! I would like to try it!

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

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