problem student

Rose Lander said: Dec 31, 2012
Suzuki Association Member
55 posts

i have been teaching suzuki violin successfully for over 40 years. i have never encounter these disabilities. i have a bright 6 year old who has been studying with me for several months.
1/there is a problem with sidedness. she still is unsure of violin and bow hands. when i first introduced the violin to her, i sat opposite her and she could not find the parts of the violin i showed her. i tried brain gym with her, and she could not find he opposite side.
2/she cannot reproduce the rhythms. i have introduced the first three. sometimes she can recognize them. but she does not have the concept of moving with each syllable.

she had a hard time concentrating, but has improved.

she had a hard time figuring out if 2 disparate notes were the same or different. now we are trying higher and lower.

i would appreciate any thoughts on this problem.

she has been diagnosed with sensory overload and is getting “occupational therapy”

many thanks,
rose lander

Sue Hunt said: Jan 1, 2013
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
390 posts

Considering that diagnosis, I would just focus on a couple of things and keep the lessons AND practice very short, even if this means, more than one lesson a week and more than one practice a day.

I am reminded of Dr Suzuki’s story of the child who kept confusing 2 numbers. His parents had tried everything they could think of to help him, to no avail. Suzuki wrote the 2 numbers on a die and made a game of throwing and saying whichever number came up e.g. “Three, I win!” The child learnt the difference in just a few short minutes.

Alissa said: Jan 1, 2013
Alissa Rieb
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
61 posts

I have had more than one student with this diagnosis. Repeat, repeat, repeat again. This won’t be about regular progress at least not at the beginning when the student is just starting therapy. It’s like two steps forward, two steps back and start again. This is a very broad disorder and you should talk to the Occupational Therapist for specifics on this kiddo. Ask the mom to hook you two up or for a copy of the diagnosis and recommendations. I’ve been told that music lessons are often recommended for these children as you can strengthen their ability to discern and use their perceptions more purposefully.

Anyway, I’ve had kids do lots of things with their eyes closed, or the lights low/off. Most of the lesson actually. You’re trying to keep them from getting in too many signals at once with no meaning. The other thing to try is association. Put a sticker on their violin hand, their violin and match yours. Give high notes a color and low notes a color, a card to raise perhaps? Again, it helps them focus on the task and not all the other sounds/inputs. Can the student match pitch? Can they sing the note and feel that it’s higher? You can use the keyboard and put colored tape on the keys above middle C. Often the eyes can teach the ears with LOTS of repetition. If the student is given headphones from the therapist, use them in lesson. It muffles sound so as to not be overwhelming. Then, the student is more feeling the rhythm and not having the sound corrupt the input.

Just some thoughts… You’re in for a very interesting road! Keep us posted :-)


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