“Older” beginner?

Leslie Setlock said: Jan 30, 2012
 3 posts

My 7 year old has been taking lessons for just about 2 months, and is feeling some serious frustration now. I suspect some of it is an imperfect fit between her own temperament and Suzuki method, tho of course learning new things has its frustrations regardless. It seems as though a lot of the Suzuki techniques are geared toward much younger kids (the 3-4 year old set.) I’m finding games and analogies harder to sell with my child, who is a pretty concrete thinker for her age.

At home, I suggest “bow bunnies” vs “wolves” and get an eye roll, or a diversion into what a bunny really looks like, and whether that finger placement best represents a bunny. If I simply tell her to “check her fingers” and explain that she’s slipping forward again, she will willingly look and re-place them. I brought out one of my own books yesterday, from my childhood lessons, which had a diagram of the bow hold, showing the bow at the middle of the middle knuckles. She immediately got her bow, saw the difference, and self-corrected. I know that Suzuki is specifically oriented toward the very young. I wonder if she is just a little outside the target audience in terms of development, and how to meet her there? The best motivators I’ve found with her are to relate (and often) exactly what “real playing” skill the exercises correspond to (how “wipers” relate to changing strings, etc), so she can keep her goal in sight. Otherwise, it’s really like pulling teeth to practice. She has no interest in games on their own.

Michael Bandimere said: Jan 30, 2012
 Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Violin
West Windsor, NJ
5 posts

I understand your frustration; however one needs to remember the Suzuki method was originally for very young. 7 years old requires common sense and direct communication with exercises as well. The majority of 7 years old know they will need to keep their pinky curved on the bow; that is not the issue in my opinion. The issue you mentioned is will your child be able to deal with the frustration of learning the instrument. That is what needs to be taught. Practice in small periods of time. The student will then be able to develop the ability to stay with practicing seeing positive results. Having worked with Bill Star at UOC; I learned a great deal. Always speak to the student; not from a book. Hope this helps.
Feel free to contact me.
Best, Michael Bandimere

Michael Bandimere

Alissa said: Jan 30, 2012
Alissa Rieb
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
61 posts

Very few of my students that I have currently started before 1st grade. Indeed, they are different learners. The Suzuki method itself was inspired by very young learning but not the instigator of the imagery/games you describe. It is but one method to get a child to a desired result. It could be how your child’s teacher has found the best results. I would express to the teacher that you see better results with concrete targets and goals and pictures or drawings of exact positions have been effective. I have highschoolers who use imagery. The only difference is that it comes from them. “I need your right shoulder to relax heavily, picture that” with a response of “I’m picturing my arm filling up with sand, and that helps me”. Another example is note reading. Some of my students respond well to picturing a bouncing ball going from note to note like you see in sing a long videos!
The point is we are trying to build a noble heart in Suzuki lessons. Learning to work through frustration is definitely a fine trait of a noble heart, as is determination through acquiring technical skills towards making beautiful music. I think most, if not all, teachers would agree that they teach each child as an individual. The goals are similar but the road is fit to the child so they can be successful.

Good luck!

Michael Bandimere said: Jan 30, 2012
 Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Violin
West Windsor, NJ
5 posts

Well spoken Alissa. MBandimere

Michael Bandimere

Leslie Setlock said: Jan 30, 2012
 3 posts

Thanks, this is helpful. Yes, my daughter is a fairly concrete personality in all ways… it’s not just age. It’s who/how she is. She also enjoys a debate, so sometimes imagery is more of a distraction for her (as it introduces something fun to pick apart.) If I just ask her directly to double-check the position of something, she does it easily. She likes to find her own errors, if I point out that there is one. She really enjoys challenges. But she needs the goal to be her own (playing the violin) rather than the game itself, and to see that connection clearly.

Ariel said: Jan 31, 2012
Ariel Slater
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Hopkinton, NH
12 posts

Hi Leslie,

Have you shared this with your teacher?? I am so grateful when my parents provide me with insights like this; it helps me better teach their children, and in the end, means that everybody is less frustrated. You know your daughter better than anyone else, at this point—and my experience with Suzuki teachers is that most of us want to teach each of our students effectively, and welcome it when a student or parent can kindly articulate what their learning style is. Also, as teachers… we don’t get to be at home practices, so we need your feedback as to what works at home and what doesn’t!

Good luck!
Ariel

Leslie Setlock said: Feb 1, 2012
 3 posts

Hi Ariel,

Yes, I’ve been brainstorming with her teacher, too. I just wanted to cast a broader net in searching for ideas. Thanks!

This week also seems to be a little better. My daughter is a pretty driven/competitive child, and I think she finds the extended period of pre-playing (the foam violin, then multiple weeks of just holding the violin, holding the bow, etc.) frustrating. The closer we get to “real” playing, the better her motivation. I just have to help her keep that in sight.

You must log in to post comments.

A note about the discussion forum: Public discussion forum posts are viewable by anyone. Anyone can read the forums, but you must create an account with your email address to post. Private forums are viewable by anyone that is a part of that private forum's group. Discussion forum posts are the opinion of the poster and do not constitute endorsement by or official position of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, Inc.

Please do not use the discussion forums to advertise products or services