What is a very time-efficient practice regime for cello book 3?

Juliet Bashore said: Sep 8, 2012
 2 posts


I have a daughter who is presently in cello book 3. She also is studying Suzuki violin and is just finishing book 4. Because she is doing 2 instruments, we need to be very focused in our practice time—and would like suggestions which we could show to our teacher on how to structure a very tight daily routine (about 30 minutes, total). She also LOVES playing cello fiddle (a la Natalie Haas), so she is getting a lot of breadth there, music-wise—this other playing would not be included as a part of the Suzuki practice time.

I should mention that another consideration is that many of the songs in first 3 cello books are adapted from the violin repertoire. She is (understandably, I guess) a bit tired of re-doing all of her violin material. So she’d like to be able to work more tightly and efficiently as she’s eager to move past the adapted repertoire and finally into the material that is unique to cello—but of course does not want to miss any of the important teaching points. So, that’s another reson for wanting to be very efficient. She’s 9 years old.

I realize that Suzuki system is not really designed to be repeated on a second instrument and would also love to hear from others who have done this—and how they modified the program accordingly (if at all).


Barb said: Sep 13, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
678 posts

Hi Juliet,

I am a bit reluctant to reply because it sounds a bit like you’re looking for something to tell your teacher how to teach. Suzuki teachers respect each other’s autonomy in how they deal with their own students. And of course your teacher knows your child and no one here does. But of course sharing of ideas is encouraged, so in that sense, I will reply…

My only experience that is close to this is one of my students had a year of violin before switching to cello. After a year twinkling on violin, she wasn’t excited about doing the same on cello, but of course we still did. Because of her year with violin, there was some transference of skills and she moved more quickly than she would have if she had not already started on violin. I also supplemented with Cello Time Joggers which she enjoyed. But that doesn’t deal with what you are talking about—building skills on both instruments at the same time with a limited amount of practice time.

Several of my students have played both piano and cello, most of whom have been homeschoolers, so they were able to have more than 30 minutes a day. One practiced one instrument before school and one after, though his practice was not consistent and usually neither long enough or smart enough (he liked to just play through things as fast as he could).

In general, for practice efficiency, I wrote about using a timer for practice in my blog here. For some reason, when I know I have less time I practice more efficiently. I DON’T like using a timer to make sure the student practices long enough.

Does your daughter watch TV? If so, she can use the ad time to fit in bits of practice—I do that sometimes!

Maybe she could get up just 5 minutes earlier every day to add an extra 30 minutes of practice each week?

It might work to alternate review work each week. Week one pieces x,y, and z are reviewed on violin, and a,b, and c are reviewed on cello. The next week they reverse. (Though I hope she is reviewing more than 6 pieces a week—that was just an example.)

On working pieces, don’t start with playing through, but single out project spots to concentrate on for 3 minutes each. Don’t play those spots till you get them right, play them until you can’t get them wrong (who said that???). Then incorporate them into the piece and polish it for performing.

Practice in the car—well, use the car for listening time, singing the pieces, practicing vibrato, or whatever can be done away from the instrument. Even reviewing the lesson and what is needed to work on the following week in the car on the way home from the lesson (and also talking about what went well!) can help organize practice time by helping to organize thoughts.

Hope you found some of those ideas helpful.

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

Sue Hunt said: Sep 14, 2012
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
391 posts

You don’t move past old repertoire, any more than moving past using your first words, like mum, dad, dog, cat, etc. The Suzuki repertoire is carefully designed to build skill, by refining the ability to play the techniques in previously learnt pieces. It is vital to review old pieces, in order to learn new ones quickly and easily.

Music is a language, a highly potent means of communication. When your daughter was a baby, did you let her stop using words that she had learnt, in favour of moving on to new ones? What would have happened to her ability to speak?

When you devote generous time for purposeful review, in every practice, you will be amazed by the results. Your teacher will be able to guide you as to the best pieces to review to help you learn new repertoire.

Carrie said: Sep 15, 2012
Suzuki Association Member
58 posts

Beautifully said, Sue. I will be quoting you on that one. I love to put little sayings and things in my studio for students and parents to “chew on”. This is becoming one of those. Thank you!


This topic is locked. No new comments can be posted.

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