Using self-videos to help our practices progress….good idea or not?

Paul said: Aug 28, 2013
 11 posts

My first post! I am always keen on adding to my mental book of ideas and strategies to help with practicing Suzuki violin with my 7 year old daughter Emily. I thought of using my smartphone to take videos of our practices so that we can immediately after playing through a single song for example like O Come Little Children we can check that my Emily is doing the right things like “up bow” on each sentence, bowing on the Krysler highway and so on. I tried the concept on myself for a few days first and noticed things like my violin hand could be straighter at the wrist plus my bowing was not consistently parallel to the bridge. I have found it is good feedback for myself plus that it is actually positive and helps me be easier on myself. But my concern is, how to approach using this concept of video taping and then immediately letting my daughter look at the video. Certainly we should not focus on a bunch of things and it is best to just tackle 1 or 2 items of concern at this age but could I get any feedback from anyone that has tried this? Any things to watch out for or recommendations?

Carrie said: Aug 29, 2013
 60 posts

I teach piano and recently got an iPad. I love taking videos of the kids playing, then showing them how it looks from my perspective. I also like to take a video of a student who is doing the thing correctly that I am trying to teach other students so they have a back to back comparison. My students love seeing/hearing themselves play and have been quick to catch on, sometimes after months of trying to get them to fix it. I haven’t had any problems with doing this. I don’t do it often.


Paul said: Aug 29, 2013
 11 posts

Thank you Carrie for your reply. Can I ask, what do you say to the child when you look at the video or do you stay quiet and let them come to their own conclusions? Emily is just 7.5 years old but when her teacher waits and let’s her reply, Emily makes excellent commentary and observations on her own about her own playing. But with her dad (me), it is harder I find….teachers have it easier in some ways I feel.

Merietta Oviatt said: Aug 29, 2013
Merietta OviattViolin, Suzuki in the Schools, Cello, Viola
Stevens Point, WI
107 posts

I do use recordings of students in my teaching. However, I don’t use them too frequently and have very specific reasons for using them. With that being said, if your child loves seeing herself play—and this encourages her to practice—go for it! I would just be cautious that she isn’t only looking for and seeing the bad. Make sure that some of the recordings are focusing on nothing but what is amazing about her playing. If, however, she isn’t just thrilled by recording her playing—be sure to pick and choose when and why you would use them. It can be hard to watch yourself play and is easy to fall into finding everything that is wrong about it. It is with this information in mind that when you do record her, before starting, set guidelines as to why you are making the recording. Are you watching for hand position? Posture? How great her dynamics are? You could do a couple where there are no set guidelines and she can come-up with her own conclusions. I would also recommend talking to the teacher about this and see how they feel and would instruct you on this. Hope this helps!

Dr. Merietta Oviatt
Suzuki Specialist
Viola/Violin Instructor
Aber Suzuki Center, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
[javascript protected email address]

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

One time I had an adult student who didn’t believe what I was telling him about his bow arm—had to record and let him watch.

It can also be beneficial to watch a recording of oneself (as well as professionals) with no sound. It’s interesting how that changes our observations! I initially did this on accident (forgot to turn on the speakers), but have also done it on purpose since then.

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Sue Hunt said: Sep 5, 2013
Sue HuntViola, Violin
403 posts

This is a great idea Barb. My Grandfather used to be a very enthusiastic madrigal singer till he heard his voice on a recording. Sadly, he never sang again.

When we are practicing or performing, we automatically tune in with great sensitivity to the sound we are making. I have found that this can interfere with the other senses, causing all sorts of tensions. Turning down one sense, automatically enhances the others.

I’ve also used this principal with children who are having trouble with bowing technique. I substitute a box, with a bow spot drawn on it, for the instrument and challenge them to keep the bow on a mark.

Erin & Christopher Palmer said: Sep 26, 2013
25 posts

I have found that my daughters LOVE to watch themselves play. So whatever gets them to practice more, I am all for it! :)

Anne said: Nov 23, 2013
9 posts

I think recording your child during practice is a great idea, however be very careful not to use it as a tool to criticize. Young children have such fragile egos and it doesn’t take much to shatter them. I also think that it’s easier for a child to take criticism from a teacher than it is their own parent. A suggestion would be to record the session, then play it back for your daughter, and ask her what she thinks about her session. You may be surprised to find that children are quite good at pointing out their own flaws and what they need to work on. Make sure to point out all of the positive things she does and she will probably be comfortable with being recorded. Good luck!

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