How to start public school students?


Connie Sunday said: Oct 11, 2013
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

I think one of the challenges of being a private teacher is that you regularly get a student who has never had any private instruction but has had two or three years of public school music. I start a new one like that next week.

In the initial email I recommended her getting the Suzuki bk 1 & CD but mom called me and said student had three years of public school and is not a beginner. So I let her off the hook in terms of buying Suzuki book 1, and asked her to bring all her books. Probably the Elements book(s), as that is what is normally used in the public schools here.

But it’s perhaps more difficult to start them in private lessons after several years of public school; the holding of the instrument, the sound, the articulations. Frequently such a student doesn’t really know much (or as much as they would if they have private lessons), and it’s a balancing act to sort of gently retrain them, if that is what is required.

Your ideas appreciated….


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Caitlin said: Oct 11, 2013
Caitlin HunsuckViolin
Merced, CA
41 posts

I’ve had several “public school” started students who have played for several years… and most of them struggle with the music past, well “Perpetual Motion.” I would have explained to the mom it’s not about beginner or advanced, but rather because the Suzuki Method doesn’t have etudes, she will need to learn the easy stuff so you can teach the hard stuff (think about it, Long, Long Ago is should be reviewed for 3rd position, Perpetual Motion is in Volume 2 in Eb, and also in Vol 4 for all the positions, Minute 3 is taught in Vol 1 and 3). I have had parents say that, so I say, “great, get Volume 2 while your at it and they can start listening to both CD’s.” From there I place them where I think they are, and then also have them start with Twinkle and just treat them as Etudes “with this piece we are working on ___________.” I find they actually need the bow technique that is learned with each piece, as well as creating good fingering habits. Good luck!

Amanda Marie said: Oct 13, 2013
Amanda Marie TewViolin
Saint Joseph, MI
14 posts

I’ve been wondering the same thing. So, do you have a high school student who can get through, say a Bach Brandenburg, with decent posture, okay intonation and about a book 2 bow hand, learn every Suzuki piece up to the level of a Bach Brandenburg? Half the songs? Just a few?And do you concurrently start them on a new piece at the more advanced level? I know it’s so different with each student, but I wonder what other teachers have found successful.

Rebecca said: Oct 13, 2013
Suzuki Association Member
West Valley City, UT
12 posts

I ran into the very same thing this last summer. I tried to estimate where in the Suzuki repertoire she would be and assigned her a Suzuki piece at that level—to keep her challenged and interested. 

And, because the repertoire is designed to introduce new things, I  had her start at the beginning of book one at the same time. I explained we would be using these easier pieces to fill in some holes, learn technique, and refine posture and tone.

I assigned several book one pieces at the same time. I made sure she understood what I was looking for.  We sort of treated it like sight reading first. Then we polished and memorized. 

I figure they’ll catch up to the more advanced pieces they’re working on pretty fast.  And as long as they’re doing review, everything will improve. 

Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE Device

Connie Sunday said: Oct 14, 2013
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

Yeah, you almost feel fearful when the new student starts. I would like to get a lot more advanced students, but they don’t want me to keep them to the basics. They have to be able to hold the instrument well and produce a good sound!!!

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Connie Sunday said: Oct 16, 2013
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

To follow up on this, student showed up, absolutely sweet, well mannered, professional, courteous. We decided on getting both Suzuki books 1 and 2, and for the May recital we’ll do group with the early pieces in book 1. Looks like a winner. Doesn’t always happen like that; some people are just not the right fit, I guess, or parents have so many odd ideas that aren’t workable in terms of lessons, group, and reasonable expectations. So lucky this time.

Everyone’s ideas are excellent. I love this forum; it’s so nice to talk to other teachers.

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