Question for German-speaking Suzuki teachers or students

Jennifer Visick said: Jul 16, 2012
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1072 posts

I have a student who sings many of the early Book 1 (Violin) songs in German, and the family tells me it is very difficult for them to play the “Suzuki” version, since the rhythm and occasionally the melody don’t match the German words or melody that they sing consistently at home.

I brought this up with a teacher trainer who suggested that it’s OK to let the students play a variation on the rhythm or melody, even in group classes, at a young age and especially when the songs seem to be a meaningful or important part of the family culture or rituals for the children.

I’m just wondering what a Suzuki program in Germany does? Are these early book 1 folk songs so commonly sung that you have trouble getting students to do the “Suzuki” version? Or, perhaps, is it more difficult for my students because singing these songs in German with their children is more meaningful (and thus harder to change) for a family that is living in a culture where (almost) no one else speaks German?

Sue Hunt said: Jul 17, 2012
Sue HuntViola, Violin
403 posts

I thought that the German words for Lightly row and Allegretto fitted the rhythm. The German speaking family I taught, had no difficulty. It’s the English speakers, who have constant trouble with Lightly Row.

Paula Bird said: Jul 17, 2012
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
404 posts

Sue is right, Song of the Wind is a German folk song.

I have some students who learned Korean, and when they sang the Korean words to “lightly row,” the words matched the rhythm as Dr. Suzuki wrote the song. No problems.

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio (blog) (podcast)

JoAnn said: Jul 17, 2012
 20 posts

The problem is more with Lightly Row, which has not only a rhythmic but a melodic discrepancy in the actual German song. I believe Song of the Wind is exactly the same in the German and Suzuki rhythm.

Despite this, I have never actually had a problem children who learned them first as German Folk Songs playing the Suzuki version—after all- they have been listening to the Suzuki CD- and I just tell them it is a different version of the song.
Also, my mother-in-law was German and my son learned all of the folk songs in German before he was 4, but never had a problem playing the pieces in the Suzuki way.

However, doing Lightly with the German rhythms and melodic change does not change any of the basic string crossings, etc. of the Suzuki version- the arpeggio still starts up bow first and down bow second. Doesn’t seem like it would be a problem to do it the German way- just makes group class harder.

Go Tell Aunt Rhody also has rhythmic differences in the American Folk Song (this is any American Song)—If the kids listen to the CD they should be able to handle it!

Mark Polesky said: Jul 18, 2012
 3 posts

Hi, if anyone is interested in seeing and hearing some of the original German folk tunes, you can find them here:

Suzuki Violin Pieces in their Original Forms

Also, I should mention that the conventional lyrics for “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” don’t fit the Suzuki version. The Suzuki version actually comes from an earlier version of the melody called “Rousseau’s Dream”. The American folk tune is almost always sung with just the first 4 measures, repeated over and over. This is all explained in the above link. Here are the conventional lyrics, you can see how they don’t fit:

Go tell Aunt Rhody,
Go tell Aunt Rhody,
Go tell Aunt Rhody,
The old gray goose is dead.

The one she’s been saving,
The one she’s been saving,
The one she’s been saving,
To make a feather bed.

She died in the mill pond,
She died in the mill pond,
She died in the mill pond,
Standing on her head.

The goslings are crying,
The goslings are crying,
The goslings are crying,
Because their mother’s dead.

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