Sight reading and Suzuki

Karin said: Mar 8, 2012
 Violin, Bass
6 posts

Hello everyone!

I’ve had much enjoyment reading from this forum. Now it’s time to write a question of my own!

I am the mother of a 6 year old girl that is doing Suzuki violin. We are still at the pre-twinkle stage even though I think she has enough skills to start learn book one repertoire. It’s just that we have a lot of pre-twinkle material to cover. :)

I have come to realize she is probably what you call a “visual learner”. She is not really fond of experimenting to learn a new song (she prefers to use that method to make her own songs). And she definitely does not like listening what I play and repeat it (even if she can if she tries) or follow any spoken instruction from me. But she can immediately play a new song if I write it down 0 1 2 3 4 4 4 4, etc. (Of course, she has heard the song on our CD a lot of times before that.)

I can relate to this myself. I am bad at picking up spoken instructions and prefer to read instead. So now I have started considering to teach her sight reading, and let her pick up the tunes on her own. Then once she has learned the notes, we do the “by heart”-practice. My question is, would this be bad according to the Suzuki way?

Best Regards

Swedish Mom

Paula Bird said: Mar 8, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

I think you would do your daughter a better service if you strengthened her other learning skills and not let your daughter just slip into the easy visual mode (easy for her). I have spent a great deal of time in recent weeks describing the ear training process for students who favor the visual mode.

link

This listening skill is important in many other areas of your child’s life, not just in the Suzuki lessons.

Make a game out of it. Put a blindfold on her. This is a great opportunity for you to build up your listening and ear training skills as well. I always ask my parents to beware of “imprinting” their particular learning style on their child.

Music is an art that draws on all our sensory capabilities, but most notably on our auditory capability. It is absolutely crucial that your daughter strengthen this type of learning style and develop a good ability to hear and play music well.

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com (blog)
http://teachsuzuki.com (podcast)

Paula Bird said: Mar 8, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

I’ve also blogged a lot about teaching to particular learning styles. You may have to search the blog for the different articles about styles.

link

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com (blog)
http://teachsuzuki.com (podcast)

Ariel said: Mar 9, 2012
Ariel Slater
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Hopkinton, NH
12 posts

Hi Swedish Mom,

I’ve had some students who are pretty resistant to learning in the way we encourage—by picking out the notes—but I agree with Paula, that strengthening her listening skills is especially important in a student who doesn’t come by them “naturally.”

I have a few questions for you:
1. Have you talked to your teacher about it, and found out when she expects your daughter to start figuring out songs instead of learning by rote? I honestly don’t expect it until at least Go Tell Aunt Rhody—that’s usually when my kids are comfortable enough with hearing patterns and imitating them on their violin to recreate them without my help. (Then again, I’ve just been blessed with a bunch of Twinklers who figured Lightly Row out without me.) Your teacher may also have some suggestions on how to work through this.
2. Some of my students who’ve wanted to rely on written things are nervous about making mistakes. Is your daughter a perfectionist?
3. As a child, I hated needing help with things. I wouldn’t let teachers touch me, or my mom help me at home. Is your daughter especially independent? This could be why she doesn’t like being shown things…?
4. If she’s self-conscious and independent… why not give her 5 minutes of “alone time” in a room where no one can hear her, to try out a new song with the CD? If it’s frustrating, that’s okay. Have a cookie, and try again tomorrow :-)

Cheers!
Ariel

Lori Bolt said: Mar 10, 2012
Lori Bolt
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
San Clemente, CA
229 posts

I’ve recently discovered that having my students demonstrate that they can sing the melody is a great aid to them learning how to play it. It serves as a aural guide and proves that the child knows how the song sounds. Using words is great, but so is “La La”. Maybe having your daughter try this will give her confidence to play without seeing something in front of her. Even if this is unnatural to her, your daughter will benefit greatly in developing her ear training. Music is, after all, not visual but auditory.

Remember, too, that Suzuki is about learning the language of music in the same manner as the mother-tongue: repeated exposure to the sound, much repetition and encouragement, and finally reading.

Lori Bolt

Karin said: Mar 12, 2012
 Violin, Bass
6 posts

Hello everyone and thanks Paula, Ariel and Lori for the great answers.

I’ve read your blog a lot Paula but now I got the chance to do it again. I had manage to miss there was a search field, so it helped out a lot in finding your specific posts. :)

Answers to Ariel’s questions:

  1. No I haven’t asked our teacher. That was a good suggestion! He does a lot of mimic games during the lessons so I’m sure he thinks it’s important to train the ear. But we have only group lessons here, so he never helps out with picking out new tunes. It’s up to us parents to teach new tunes (or let the kids do it themselves).
  2. Yes I think my daughter is perfectionist. She can get very upset if she does a mistake. I think I mistakenly strengthened trait that during our first year at Suzuki since I wanted to help her too much. No I have backed down a lot.
  3. Yes, she is very independent. :) Other people has noticed it, too, for example when trying to show how to progress in a computer game. The dear daughter can even ask for help, but then refuse to listen to the explanation. So it’s not only a mom and daughter thing even if that fact sure makes it worse.
  4. This is a great suggestion! Thanks a lot!

I tried to play a little mimic game with her yesterday. The first response was “I don’t want to do that”. I told her no problem if there was an error and she would get many chances. Then she said “I don’t want to try many times”. We then negotiated how many times she should try and settled on 3. She managed to pick out the first measure on the last third try.

Then we had a little rest and played some easy songs. Then I wanted her to try the second measure, but now she was too tired and said “That only sounds like blah blah in my head” and “my head gets all spinny”. So I probably picked too difficult things… Didn’t manage to negotiate any tries on that one.

Karin said: Mar 14, 2012
 Violin, Bass
6 posts

One challenge is balancing how much focus we at home on things such as ear training, tone and technique versus the dear daughter’s enjoyment of the group class. She is a bit behind in her group and I don’t want to have her feel bad about it all the time. It seems like she has more fun when she can at least play along with the tunes.

Kim said: Mar 14, 2012
 39 posts

My daughter is 7 and almost done with book 2. She wasn’t really able to imitate passages really well by ear until the end of book 1. I totally see how easy it would be to use a visual tool that she likes but I would keep working at it. I often used finger numbers out loud (”ok now play AA-EE-11-E” while singing how it would sound). Once it clicks it will be SO worth it because at her age she’ll zoom through repertoire. :-) Both my kids are visual/spatial learners. It helped us a bunch to have lyrics for book one pieces (sometimes we still make up lyrics for our book 2 stuff). Listen as much as you can tolerate. Good luck!

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