Public School Appraisers


Rachel Carlton said: Sep 29, 2014
Rachel Carlton
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Tyler, TX
1 posts

I am public school teacher incorporating Suzuki methods in my beginning orchestra class. In this particular class it was violin and viola.
It was the fourth week of school and we were practicing the twinkle variations on the open strings, saying the words, working on position, watching the bow, producing a good tone and crossing strings. One of my appraiser came in and watch for a couple of minutes and this is what he wrote. Any suggestions on a response:

With any form of Suzuki I would like to see the rhythmic materials and notes written as a visual cue to coincide with the verbal exercises that teach the rote methods of this methodology. As to not impact the ability to visually understand rhythms as well as their ability to sight read.

Rachel Carlton

Mengwei Shen said: Sep 29, 2014
Mengwei Shen
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Cello
Jersey City, NJ
221 posts

I would have to disagree with his premise that Suzuki is “by rote” (at first it is but you’re moving towards “by ear”) and that not having visual cues in the early stages will affect reading ability. Personally, I prioritize physical skills, that you “feel” music, and that it becomes “part of you” before you study how to decode symbols on a page (but I do primarily individual lessons and groups of only young children—not orchestra age).

If you have to (or are supposed to) respond, I would definitely stay away from direct discussion of methodology*, but perhaps you could objectively state the purpose of the activities that he saw and what your plans are for reading. Do you have lesson plans or year-long or multi-year overviews of your curriculum or what is to be accomplished that you can share with the school? Just because it wasn’t in the exact few minutes when he was there doesn’t mean it’s not coming.

*In my experience with older students, early over-reliance on reading can be to the detriment of other skills—for example, can’t play anything from memory, no training in “hearing the music in your head”, weak in tone and musicality, physical awkwardness in handling the instrument, etc. It would be easy for me to “get excited in defending ‘my way’”.

Johanna Rachel Brunjes said: Oct 1, 2014
Johanna Rachel BrunjesViolin
Walnut Cove, NC
4 posts

If anyone gets really confused about what form of Suzuki you are teaching (car, motorcycle, or human music student) then you could just write something on the board.


Jennifer Visick said: Oct 1, 2014
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1072 posts

If you need to respond, I second what Mengwei wrote: show the lesson plan for when & how you will introduce reading and mention that dividing the visual and aural skills at the beginning of music study enhances the children’s ability to process both skills, as they can focus on one thing at a time, and show the plan for connecting these skills at a later date. Maybe even mention that children generally learn to speak their native language by ear before learning to read, this sequence of learning works well for native speakers of any language, and you are aiming to give your students a native fluency in the language of music…

But you can’t win some battles. So if it’s a choice between throwing visuals up on the board in front of class while you continue to teach by ear separately from teaching reading, or ditching the by ear component all together, then post the rhythm you’re working on up on the board while you’re working on it.

Community Youth Orchestra Of S CA said: Oct 3, 2014
 Violin, Viola
70 posts

What grade level are the students?

If it’s 1st grade, then I can argue that the visuals are entirely secondary to the aural and physical skills. If it’s 4th grade, then I would have the rhythms on the board.

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