How many times a song needs to be practised?

Rav Prk said: Sep 19, 2014
 1 posts

I have a 4.5 years old who is currently learning Andantino in Book 1. He is a quick learner and practices for about 20-30 mins daily. At home, his practice session goes like: choose any of the 6 songs and play each one 1 time; work upon newly taught songs. Though he knows all his songs, he can’t play them without making mistakes. Am I aiming too high that he should practice each song until it becomes automatic? How should I structure my practice sessions at home? Should I ask him to practice each song 50/100 times until he masters it?

Mengwei said: Sep 19, 2014
Mengwei Shen
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Cello
Jersey City, NJ
120 posts

What does your teacher recommend? It’s hard to say without knowing your or your teacher’s goals and expectations. Are all the pieces being played with good posture and good tone? If the mistake is in the notes (pitch, rhythm, bowings), the mistake part should be isolated and practiced by itself, then you gradually add back what comes before, until the fixed part is reattached to the rest of the piece. I tell my students that once they know the notes, now we work on musical aspects—such as dynamics, phrasing, etc.

I use Andantino to work on bowing technique (how much and what part of the bow to use for different parts, changing bow style, accented up bow, etc.). There are also two places, plus the beginning, where they can learn to cue the pianist, or anyone else playing with them, to start together (this is actually not new—the first time is in Allegro). It really depends on your teacher…

Heather Figi said: Sep 21, 2014
Heather FigiViolin
Eugene, OR
97 posts

Thanks for asking —the nature of your question shows your commitment.

I wanted to respond that the purpose of practicing is to make something easy. Once it is easy, we can develop our technique and expression. The way to make anything easy is to use repetition. Repetition is the mother of skill—there is no way around this, it is the only way.

That being said, I would recommend singing pieces before playing. The inner song needs to first be correct for the outer song (violin playing) to be accurate. Stop, and fix things in the singing when needed.

Secondly, I would like to see you and your child doing the same piece multiple times instead of playing them thru just once. You indicated that your son still makes some mistakes in his play-thrus. If the inner song is correct, then do the same piece a few times. Your son will gain direct experience in how multiple play-thrus make something easier.

Now, the fun part—get some little rubber animals. Trust me, tiny animals are like gold to young children. The tiniest ones made by Safari LTD (https://safariltd.com/) are incredible. Place one on your child’s instrument every time he plays thru the piece to keep him motivated and provide a rewards. This will lift his spirit while you do the necessary work to gain ample repetitions for mastery of each piece.

Lastly, listen, listen, listen!!!

We are learning music like we learn a language. The reason why it is so easy to learn our native tongue is because we are immersed in it. Do this with your child’s Suzuki CD—immerse his ears in these pieces for an optimal learning experience. Download the CD on your computer, burn a copy for the car and a couple extras in case you ever loose the original.

Remember, children have a much higher capacity for repetition than we do as adults.

Stay positive and check out this article for added support:

https://www.khanacademy.org/about/blog/post/95208400815/the-learning-myth-why-ill-never-tell-my-son-hes

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