to high expectations?

Pia said: May 11, 2013
34 posts

I’m quite uncertain if my expectations are appropriate or not. I would be grateful for your opinions: a student, 8 y.o, lessons since 2 1/2 years, book 2, parent always taking detailed notes in lesson, disciplined,constant practicing at home, good progress on all areas (except the listening-issue!). Due to cancellations on my and her part (concert tour, sickness,work etc.) the lessons in the last two months could only happen sporadic. To compensate for this, I made a teaching video, specially for this boy. I recorded his new piece and “custom tailored” it all for him and his needs. On this video, I demonstrated every note and explained every fingering/bowpattern etc. Sadly, they did not make use of this aid, they had not even tried to learn one single note by themselves (by watching the video)! I have to mention, normally, during lesson, I help with every note—explain wich bow part, bowdivision, bow speed, when to do what fingerpreparation and so on (parent takes notes and they practice exactly everything like I say). I was so disappointed over this, I thought, after 2 1/2 years it would be possible to, single-handedly, start a new piece (at least try..) without me guiding them through every note. Do I have to high expectations? Maybe it isn’t appropriate to ask student (after “only” 2 1/2 y. lesson) to try to learn the next piece on their own?

Barb said: May 11, 2013
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
678 posts

“…except the listening-issue!” says it all! It sound like rather than learning by ear this student is learning by rote.

Having learned a lot from reading what other teachers here do, as well as reading great books like Ed Kreitman’s Teaching from the Balance Point and watching all the great Parents as Partners Online videos over the last few years…

I make sure my students can hum the tune before they start to learn to play it. If they don’t listen enough, I know, because they mix up notes or rhythms. If they have listened enough, the tune inside them will correct these kinds of errors—no need for parent or teacher to tell them if they play a wrong note, especially. I then can work on bowing and fingering with them, etc. The kids amaze me in their ability to learn by ear and I’m even getting better at it myself.

It does boggle the mind, though, that your family has good habits everywhere else, and when lessons had to be missed they didn’t take advantage of your generous gift of the video lesson! I suppose it misses the warmth of interaction to a point, and doesn’t give the feedback you would in a lesson, but still…

If you haven’t read the above mentioned book, I highly recommend it for teachers and parents. It is especially for violin, but much applies also to other instruments.

Ed has his students work out the tunes on their violins on their own before he begins to teach it in the lessons! I have found students memorizing the wrong bowing and having a hard time correcting it when they go “ahead” of me like that, so I just make sure they have it in their head, then let them work it out in the lesson. I don’t have to help with finding the notes, usually, but guide their bowing, etc.

Edit to add: I didn’t start my kids off this way, exactly, so to help get into it, I gave them another simple tune they could already sing to try on their instrument at home, eg Frere Jacques, Happy Birthday.

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