Teaching Dynamics

Kristi said: Apr 20, 2015
Kristi CoughlinViolin, Piano, Cello
Knoxville, TN
1 posts

I have a concept that I am using in my personal studio to teach dynamics to first year students. I don’t know that this is an original thought. I have considered publishing my thoughts in the journal but first I’d like to survey all of you to see #1 How you teach dynamics to first year students and #2 Have you used anything similar to what I’m already doing; what I call “the block method”?

The Block Method is where I take a few measures in the Suzuki Book 1 (or 2) where dynamics are marked including crescendos and decrescendos. I then group together notes and assign a dynamic value.

For example in Suzuki Book 1 Long Long Ago, a decrescendo is marked on measure three.
The notes are “E, D, C#, B” I would assign the notes “E, D, C#) as mezzo forte and the final note “B” as piano or mezzo piano.
I use this method because some beginners struggle to understand dynamics as a continuum of degrees and need the desgnation of dynamic value.
This is only one example of the pedagogy that I’m working on but I’m interested to see my fellow teacher’s thoughts on this and any varying techniques used in lessons to teach this.

Thanks so much for your time!

Let’s make music fun-
Kristi C.

Lori Bolt said: Apr 21, 2015
Lori Bolt
Suzuki Association Member
San Clemente, CA
226 posts

Hi Kristi—this is uncanny, but I started using the same method recently! I used it to help students plan cresc/ decresc on scales. We chose a starting dynamic, piano or mp and a top note level, mf, so the student doesn’t bang out the last of the cresc. From there we planned which notes would be which dynamic, and reversed it on the descent. It may seem mechanical to some, but it’s a tool until it becomes natural. I feel it helps the student listen carefully while playing. We play slowly to be careful of the changes and tone.

I look forward to other ideas being posted here.

Lori Bolt

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