piano accompaniment in lessons for string teachers?

Rebekah said: Jul 4, 2012
Rebekah Hanson
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
9 posts

Do any string teachers play piano to accompany their students in lessons? I can only play about book 2-3 level, but I am wondering if it might be helpful for younger students. I’m curious if others have found this to be beneficial. Thank you!

Paula Bird said: Jul 4, 2012
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

Absolutely! I use the piano as part of the polishing process. When students don’t quite have the piece learned yet and really solid, the piano will confuse them because it’s distracting. So it’s a useful way to make sure that they’re really learned the piece to be able to play it with piano. I also play the piano for my students to prepare them for recitals, and I am their accompanist at recitals, talent shows, and scholastic competitions.

Playing piano with my students also helps them learn ensemble skills and how to work with a piano accompanist.

I am a professional pianist as well as a violinist, so my experience may be very different from other teacher’s experience.

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

Phyllis Calderon said: Jul 5, 2012
Phyllis CalderonViolin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Piano
Chicago, IL
22 posts

Yes! Once my students have polished their pieces, I will accompany them on piano (up to the Book 3 level). This is a great way for them to practice for a recital, practice ear-training, and ensemble skills. I think that piano accompaniment it is a great skill and tool to bring into a group or private instruction to introduce or add to skills the students have learned.

I have even paired up my piano and violin students with each other to work on ensemble playing with each other. A great starting piece for this is the Canon in D. And at my last recital I had a family perform (the father/daughter violinists on harmony and melody, respectively, and the youngest daughter (who also plays piano),voice, performing Amazing Grace). It was beautiful!

Phyllis Calderon
Director, String Instructor
A Touch of Classical Plus, Inc.—Calderon Music Studio

Amy said: Jul 5, 2012
Suzuki Association Member
50 posts

My piano skills easily take me through book 3, but anywhere beyond requires significant practice. With my young students, we will often play a practice performance with the piano at the end of the lesson as a reward for good concentration/behavior/etc. This also gives students an opportunity to practice breathing as they play, especially in preparation for Allegro, Allegretto and Andantino, because these pieces require them to lead the pianist through certain points of repose.

A more challenging issue for me has been more advanced transfer students who stand like statues as they play. I’ve found that me hacking through piano parts as best I can is really beneficial for them in terms of learning to move appropriately with the music, but I’m not sure it’s an ideal situation.

Alissa said: Jul 5, 2012
Alissa Rieb
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
61 posts

My answer is a little different and might help Amy in the later songs. I use the daylights out of the Fun for 2 Violins books. There are duets for Happy Farmer all the way into book 7 or 8 literature. They draw from the piano feel for most of the songs. I can only accompany beginners on the piano and wish I could do more! As previous posters mentioned, I find it best to start accompaniments in the polish and review phases as it throws of kids still getting fingerings etc. in order…

Carol Gwen said: Jul 6, 2012
Carol Gwen Kiefer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Washington Crossing, PA
75 posts

I have no piano skills to speak of. I absolutely play the duet accompaniment from Fun for 2 Violins in addition to the duet book available with the Suzuki repertoire. My students know that playing along with the duet is part of the polishing process.

I do use Linda Perry’s Midi-file accompaniments on my computer. I recommend them to my students to practice along with. I set the tempo to use at home. Most students and especially parents find it very helpful to get practice time going.
Knowing and having worked with Linda I am so appreciative of these recordings as a teaching aid. The way she plays the pieces may not be every teacher’s choice, but she presents one way to practice the piece. I use them through book 6 as a challenge. She also recorded Viola Book 1! My violin students learn to play with the piano in another key and my viola students benefit from the musical experience.

In terms of movement, that’s another topic!

Jennifer Visick said: Jul 6, 2012
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

Did you know you can transpose Linda Perry’s MIDI recordings to any key? I use the book 2 violin accompaniment tracks transposed down a fifth for all my violists at that level. And for challenges to transpose to other keys—as suggested and as not suggested (in teacher training classes and in the tiny print in the violin revised books).

SmartMusic is another option (slightly different computer requirements).

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