Stuck in his own idea of what sounds good


Nadia said: Jun 20, 2013
16 posts

My eight year-old used to play with pretty good tone. The irony is that he didn’t think of playing “well”, he just played the right notes to the right right rhythm, which made him sound decent enough. About three months ago, he began wanting to play “well”, like a professional violinist he sees in concert perfomance. He now lost his tone and he produces this whimpy murmuring sound with erratic rhythm. He is okay during home practice—I make him use metronome and I remind him of the importance of the tone. But he is back in his own idea of playing well when he performs for others. It’s frustrating for a parent to watch her child growing in love of music and violiin, and to see him begin to lose the foundational skills at the same time. Help! What can I do to help my son get out of this mode?

Jennifer Visick said: Jun 21, 2013
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1076 posts

Perhaps record a performance of his and play it back to him, side by side with recordings of a professional violinist in concert—so that he can hear that his tone is not like what he is trying to emulate?

Sue Hunt said: Jun 22, 2013
Sue HuntViola, Violin
403 posts

What does your teacher say about this? I’d have a talk with him or her and ask for a specific technical teaching point every week. Make this the focus of your practice.

Carol Flamm Reingold said: Jun 22, 2013
Carol Flamm ReingoldPiano, Voice
New York, NY
1 posts

I teach piano and I find that doing an amusing demo helps. For example: Say you have to hire a player and you only have to two violinists and exaggerate what you want your student to listen for and ask them what they would choose and why. Sometimes it’s not that the student is stuck on their sound it’s that they actually don’t hear the difference while they are playing, they have too much else they are thinking about and working on.

Carol Flamm Reingold

Sue Hunt said: Jun 23, 2013
Sue HuntViola, Violin
403 posts

Carol is absolutely right. Listening, though a primary skill, can be sabotaged by concentrating on the challenges of playing.

We are teaching children the art of deep focus and the sooner we start, the better.

Break things down into the smallest possible teaching points and when internalized, build them up again. This gives students a good firm platform for testing important playing skills while listening to the effect that they produce.

Laura said: Jun 24, 2013
Laura Mozena
Suzuki Association Member
Mancos, CO
107 posts

Is he possibly trying to imitate the way professionals “look” and sound when they play highly advanced material? I might ask him specifically what he sees in the performers that he is trying to match. The idea to record him is great! A video would be even better. Because he likely thinks his end result IS what he wants, but might see the difference if he can see himself. And its possible that some added expression and movement (taught in a way that maintains good technique) might satisfy his need to play “well”. Possibly try to find a professional performance of HIS pieces so that he can more accurately imitate at his level. I sometimes give recitals of Suzuki Pieces that my students attend so that they can see me play their pieces. The last one I did was A Tour through the Suzuki Violin Books. I played one piece from each book 1-8. All my students loved it. It is GREAT that he wants to play well, it just sounds like he needs some guidance to know what exactly that means.


Community Youth Orchestra Of S CA said: Jul 5, 2013
 Violin, Viola
70 posts

Sadly, I see this in students even at the high school age. I think the primary challenge is teaching them at what specifically to listen for, and encouraging them to seek out role models for tone and character early on.

The recording plus feedback is an excellent tool!

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