Moving Too Fast?

Erin & Christopher Palmer said: Nov 19, 2013
25 posts

Both of my girls, 5 years old (but especially one of them), just started violin in July. One of them is now up to Go Tell Aunt Rhody, but the other one is really flying through the pieces and she is up to May Song (new piece about every 2 weeks). They both practice a lot, so I am glad that it is paying off for them. They can play all the pieces before their current piece with the CD correctly. We do review daily, and we try to play through all the previous pieces at least once every day. So here is my question: is there any downside to not lingering on each piece longer? Should I be dedicating more time to review? What I do is 5x for the current working piece (or a particular part they were assigned ~10x), 4x for previous piece, 3x for the piece before, 2x the piece before then. Everything else 1x. Is that enough? Or is this pretty normal?

A bonus question: if the kid makes a mistake in the piece, do I let them figure it out themselves, or do I help them by telling them which notes to play? For example one always messes up when in the Song of the Wind she should play EDDDDC#C#C#C#BBB—ACE and when EDDDDC#C#C#C#BBB—A.


Laura said: Nov 19, 2013
Laura Mozena
Suzuki Association Member
Mancos, CO
106 posts

Sounds like everything you are doing is great! I wish all of my students were as dedicated as you seem to be. The speed at which they are progressing seems about right for the amount of work that you are putting in at home. It is perfectly ok to not linger on the pieces as long as the “teaching point” of that particular piece is achieved. (for example if they are playing song of the wind with no circle bows or O come without the UP bows then I would say it is necessary to slow down and remember each new piece has a new technique to learn) Some pieces will take longer and SHOULD be focused on for a longer period of time, but others will fly by very quickly.

It is ok to let them fix problems and mistakes on their own if they are aware of it and know how to fix it. There is no reason to say “ooops” every time if they are clearly aware of the mistake and know how to go back and correct it on their own. This is the perfect chance to teach good practicing techniques. Have them “play teacher” and tell themselves (and you too) what happened and how to fix it. However don’t just let them practice mistakes over and over. Practice makes “permanent” not “perfect.”

Mengwei Shen said: Nov 20, 2013
Mengwei Shen
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Cello
Jersey City, NJ
219 posts

Did your teacher assign anything specific to work on or pay attention to while playing “review pieces”? I tell my students/parents that it’s not just about playing the right notes and the right up and down bows; we are learning different ways to use the bow, LH techniques, and musical expression/phrasing. Ask yourself (or ask your teacher) what skills in older pieces need to be in place for future pieces? What skills in future pieces can be previewed in older pieces (where you already know the notes)? For example, I used to let my students “fly through” but found many of them were having a lot of trouble with (for example) O Come Little Children, so I started taking more time to lay a better foundation for O Come Little Children.

About mistakes: listen more! Almost nothing can’t be solved by listening to the recording more. Sometimes kids will realize that they just played something that didn’t sound like the recording and sometimes you might call attention to it (especially if it happens multiple times and they show no signs of noticing). I may play it for them and ask, did yours sound like mine? Or ask them to play it again, and “make sure you put 2nd finger close to 3rd finger” (high 2).

About Song of the Wind: I’ve used that specific example to talk about “question” and “answer” phrases (precursor to musical form/structure). The AC#E(circle) ending is a question and the A ending is an answer. If they’ve listened enough, they understand intuitively what sounds like a question vs. an answer and should be able to give you an example of another question and answer.

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