A Poll
What do you say when you bow?

Barb said: Feb 4, 2013
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
685 posts

I know there are a lot of “variations on the bow” out there… what do you parents/teachers/students say? Do you always say the same thing? Do you evolve this to a silent bow at some point? Feel free to also share what you have heard others say, too—I want lots of ideas!

My teacher trainer, Priscilla Jones, taught “Ichi, ni, san” (1-2-3 in Japanese, and on “ni” they look at their knee).
I started using “I’m ready to learn”/ “I’m ready to teach” and “Thank you for teaching me”/”Thank you for learning” or “Thank you for letting me teach you.” I can’t recall from whom I heard these.

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

Kiyoko said: Feb 5, 2013
 95 posts

From when I was young, I remember learning “ichi-ni-san-shi”, counting from 1 to 4 in japanese with various Suzuki teachers in the US, Japan, and Canada. (In Japan, student bows deeply at the waist, lower than the teacher if the teacher bows.) We used to joke “ichi-ni” was an itchy knee in English.

I was taught to say “Thank you very much” and the Japanese equivalent at the end of every private and group Suzuki lesson. As I got older, the bow at the end of a group lesson or master class was silent depending on the teacher. Teachers often bowed back at the same time or right afterwards. For recitals and performances, it was a silent bow.

I wonder if variations are somewhat regional. My early Suzuki training was on the East Coast, followed by the Midwest and included trips to Japan and Canada.

Ruth Brons said: Feb 6, 2013
Ruth Brons
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
West Orange, NJ
150 posts

Our Pre-Twinklers enjoy celebrating accomplishment and marking the beginnings and ends of lessons/classes with a bow to the words:
“Mississippi Hot Dog, Teeth!” (to end with a smile!)

Often the bow, for younger students, follows the brief verbal interchange of:
“Are you ready to learn?”

This matures over the years into wordless bows that either mark the ends of group classes or are part of a performance, or performance preparation.

We do nurture a culture of mutual respect for the work of both the student and teacher, which is my take-away of the bowing ritual. We do this by verbally thanking the students for their work at the close of lessons or classes, and gladly accepting a “Thank you for the lesson” in return.

Sophia said: Feb 23, 2013
16 posts

I usually teach to air bow so that they get the feeling that it’s light and that the bow hold is changeable…also, to practise the passage without physically using the bow but to subdivide to ensure enough bow is used in the right place for proper bow placement.

Jennifer Visick said: Feb 23, 2013
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1072 posts

I grew up with “ichi ni san” as a way to teach how long to bow after a performance. (1 look down, 2 stay down, 3 come up and smile)

For marking the beginning of lessons and group classes, I don’t usually bow but can if it seems like a student or group of students needs a mark for the start of the lesson.

For the end of private lessons and group classes, I bow and say ‘thank you for coming today’, and I teach the students that this is their cue to bow back to the teacher and say ‘thank you for teaching me/us today’. (Actually this is the entirety of the first lesson for very young pre-school age beginners).

Eventually this shortens to ‘thank you for coming’ / ‘thank you for teaching’. Sometimes it gets down to a mere ‘thank you’ on both sides, and the bow becomes less formal and much more of a nod that happens to include shoulders.

Sometimes students are so eager to finish a lesson that they will bow to me first, before I’m done, and say “thank you for teaching me today!”. This is my wake-up call that I’ve started handing them too many assignments or too much information for one lesson! :-P

I do specifically teach that bowing and applauding for performances are ways of saying thank you to the audience for coming to listen and thank you to the performer for coming to share.

I also find that students who take certain martial arts or ballet classes in addition to suzuki music lessons tend to bow either with a leg behind (the dancers) or with eyes and head up, facing me the whole time (the martial arts students). Both of which require the explanation…. ‘this is a musical bow, not a — bow, you stand with your legs tall and straight and you must look down at the floor.’

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