ADD student who finds repeats difficult

Katharine Cinelli said: May 14, 2013
Katharine CinelliViolin, Viola
Erlanger, KY
5 posts

I have a student who clearly has ADD (not a misdiagnosis as can be common these days). He has a lot of trouble with repeats. He is working at the end of book 2 and into book 3, where this can really be an issue with the Minuets and Martini Gavotte.

He listens to his cd every day, as well as 6 times his current piece, the piece behind, the piece ahead. We have had him face one wall for the first time, and then turn around to face another way. We have stepped on cards depending on which part he is playing. It helps some at that moment, but the results are not long lasting.

His mother has identified this to him as his challenge, and I almost think he always looks defeated when we go to work on this. I remain pretty relaxed about it in the lesson and support him in what he can do and make it clear that I am not worried about it. His mother says the are looking to go to a traditional method after the summer.

He learns really fast by ear and has no problems otherwise. He doesn’t forget bowings, always plays the right notes, his technique is moving along, etc….

Any suggestions? What am I missing?

Christine said: May 15, 2013
Christine Goodner
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
Hillsboro, OR
68 posts

Does he have trouble remembering that the repeat is supposed to happen or does it feel like torture to him to actually follow through and do the repeat? (this was me as a kid!!) I think how you approach the issue might be different depending on the answer to that question.

I think you are on the right track having him do something different the second time through. On the repeat I would do something dramatic & fun . . . march around the room to the beat, alternate standing on one foot at a time, hold the bow upside down. Stand on tip toes for loud sections, crouch down for piano.

In the lesson you could do the repeat as a duet, the first time through as a solo etc.
Those are just a few ideas that may help the monotony of all those repeats.

As a person who struggled (and still do) with ADD my brain was working a mile a minute and doing something again that I had already done well once felt almost physically painful it so went against the way my brain worked.

Violin was so, so good for me in so many ways—for one it helped me learn to follow through on what needed to get done (while working with myself instead of against myself).

Christine Goodner

Studio Website: Brookside Suzuki Strings

Blog: The Suzuki Triangle

“When Love is Deep, Much can be Accomplished” ~ Suzuki

Katharine Cinelli said: May 15, 2013
Katharine CinelliViolin, Viola
Erlanger, KY
5 posts

Thanks Christine. He just forgets to do them, or plays the part 3 times instead of just two. He can’t remember what he has played to know what to do next.

Christine said: May 15, 2013
Christine Goodner
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
Hillsboro, OR
68 posts

Depending on how much the student is interacting with the actual music:
I would figure out how he memorizes (does he see a picture of the music in his head, can he hear the music in his head (how it sounds & what should come next), or is he going by muscle memory).

Talking about that might clue you in to what he is not doing/thinking of and help you come up with a plan of what to work on next.

If you are not using the printed music yet—assigning a block of colored paper to each section of the piece and lining them up on the floor so the student can see how many times each section is played might help with the pattern.

Section One is the color yellow and is repeated—so set out two squares of yellow paper. Section two is the color green and not repeated so set out one square of green paper. The student may do better seeing it visually like that.

That’s where I would start!

Christine Goodner

Studio Website: Brookside Suzuki Strings

Blog: The Suzuki Triangle

“When Love is Deep, Much can be Accomplished” ~ Suzuki

Rose Lander said: May 15, 2013
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
55 posts

i think you re doing fabulously well if your student is making good progress, playing the right notes and bowings and listening so much. why is his mom complaining? she is very, very fortunate and so is her child to be in such a caring and expert environment.
i am a great fan of simplicity. and also of the child giving himself directions verbally. at the end of each section, he should say “stop”, and call out repeat” if that is warranted. i have had very good success with this technique when children repeatedly make mistakes. good luck!
rose lander

Janece Milos said: May 16, 2013
Janece Milos
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Amsterdam 1078 VA, Netherlands
5 posts

Thank you Rose Lander! One of my most musical students has the same struggle with repeats. Your suggestion on simplicity sounds wonderful. I’m going to try asking him to give himself verbal direction within the piece.
Kind regards, Janece Milos

Janece Milos
www.soundseasy.nl

Karen said: May 16, 2013
Karen Walls
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Indianapolis, IN
15 posts

Hi Katharine,
What I have found works well that I learned at an institute with Linda Steig is making the form of a piece into a sandwich. You’ve probably heard that with Twinkles: Bread, Cheese, Cheese, Bread. I do that for most songs in book 1 up to the Minuets.

Once into book 2 and 3, I do this with A, A1, B, etc. We label the start of each section and also write out the order right next to the title. E.g. for Martini Gavotte, we label each section A, B, A, C, A, D, A, C1, etc. But I also have them write out those letters next to the title so they can see the order of the song. I do this with Waltz, Lully, Mignon. Any song that can get confusing. I think it’s fun to make sandwiches even into book 2 and 3, if a song order gets confusing. I don’t do this unless it deems necessary, but when I do, I find they get it!

For the sandwich idea, I have play food in a bag in my teaching room and when just learning a new piece, I will let the students ‘write’ out the form of the song on the floor using the food items. I have lots of bread slices, doubles of bacon, cheese, peanut butter, hamburger, cookies, ice cream, etc. They love making the sandwich. Some make it the silliest they can, but they remember! Then I will have them play sections of the song as I hold up a particular food item. I also mix up the sandwich they just made and have them put it back in the correct order. Sometimes I play the sections while they do this so they can really hear the order. I have the students label in their books (book 1) the order of the form (sandwich) by labeling the parts.

Have a great day!
Karen

Karen Walls
Indianapolis Suzuki Academy
Instructor of Violin

Edmund Sprunger said: May 16, 2013
Edmund SprungerTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Saint Louis, MO
99 posts

Kate—I like that you mentioned the listening. It’s always good to rule out “is there a listening deficiency” in cases like this.

I think you’re onto something with ideas like having him walk through the piece by stepping on cards, and having him face one wall then the other. I might also expand it into “Play this section for this window, then walk over there and play the exact same thing for that window.”

Two other things I would consider in working with a child like this:

  1. The walking through the piece (or the other physical things you’re doing with him) may need to be repeated many, many times. Perhaps 10,000. I wouldn’t think of it as a problem, just something to do many times.

  2. Once you’ve established a way of practicing the repeats and the order, I’d just let him do that every day and check in on it every couple of lessons or so. I wouldn’t sweat it. (It sounds like you’re doing this pretty much when you write that you “remain pretty relaxed about it”).

The worrisome part of your post is “His mother says they are looking to go to a traditional method after the summer.” The cutting edge of this case is working with the parent, who, it sounds like, is hoping that a traditional method (whatever that is) will somehow magically make it so that her child no longer struggles with something that bothers her so much. The place I would be looking/thinking is “Why does this bother the mother so much?” “What meaning does she assign to the fact that her child is struggling with the repeats?” “Why is she resorting to a magical solution?” Things like that.

Edmund Sprunger
sprungerstudio.com
yespublishing.com

Barb said: May 16, 2013
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

I have this problem sometimes. In performance a good accompanist will follow and the audience usually doesn’t notice. A little different when you’re not a soloist, though. Traditional training didn’t seem to help me. Is this really why the mother is looking to change approaches?

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

Paula Bird said: May 16, 2013
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

I’m sorry if I missed this, but how old is this child? Certain growth and developmental phases add more complexity to this attention issue, even when the child isn’t ADD.

Bet the mon thinks traditional approach will be less work for her.

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com (blog)
http://teachsuzuki.com (podcast)

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