Suzuki Book 4

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Rebecca said: Feb 3, 2016
 19 posts

I’ve noticed a trend that about the time my students get into the Seitz Concertos in book 4, they lose their enthusiasm for playing violin, and start thinking about quitting. I don’t know if it’s because of the age (usually it’s my 12-16 yr.olds that reach this), the repertoire, or anything else. So far, I’ve managed to keep most of them by supplementing their pieces like crazy, but I don’t know if this is the best solution.

Does anyone else have this problem? How do you deal with it?

Christine said: Feb 3, 2016
Christine Goodner
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
Hillsboro, OR
68 posts

I used to run into this alot—I think what has helped is a combination of a number of things.
- My students are more often getting to these pieces at a younger age and find them exciting
-My approach to Book 3 has totally shifted—we spend lots of time on 3 octave scales ,rhythmic training, and Josephine Trotts Book “Melodious Double Stops” in addition to the Suzuki Material. I think all of that means they are working a little bit on complex things each practice so when we hit the Seitz Concertos they are better prepared.
- I started doing Book Graduations where each student goes through a process to further polish and then check off with me each piece in a prior book . . . this has helped me fill in technical and music gaps (usually culminating while we are on the 1st or 2nd book of the next piece).

It’s not an easy fix for the students there now—but might help out with future ones!

Christine Goodner

Studio Website: Brookside Suzuki Strings

Blog: The Suzuki Triangle

“When Love is Deep, Much can be Accomplished” ~ Suzuki

Paula Bird said: Feb 3, 2016
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

Yes I also find the same problem occurs about middle school. I’ve wondered if students are getting distracted by all the changes that middle school presents. For many students, this is the first time they have multiple teachers—a teacher for every class. Lots of new activity exposure, lots of exciting new things, lots of choices, maybe little guidance or direction about choices perhaps.

Things that help are finding opportunities to highlight how advanced the student’s skill is: talent shows, special performances at school or for special school events, or special community or church performances. Also, enrolling in youth orchestra or school orchestra programs helps the student feel that he or she is a part of a larger club or community. These things help.

My dad helped me foster my interest in orchestra music at this age by buying violin parts to favorite symphonies. I loved learning these even though the music was way beyond my ability! He also left sheet music lying on the piano rack for musicals we watched in the movies or theater or for pop songs we heard on the radio. Some parents have resurrected their interest in playing an instrument by pulling out the trombone from the attic closet and forming a family “band.” Whatever works!

I think many parents get tired of the practice struggle by this point. Maybe we should think of ways to keep the parents interested and engaged?

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com (blog)
http://teachsuzuki.com (podcast)

Kirsten said: Feb 3, 2016
 Violin
103 posts

I share your struggle. I wonder if for some students book 4 feels like they are getting more work and less fun. There is suddenly so much technique required.

My thinking over the past years is that it is really important to consider sight reading at every lesson for students in book 2 and 3. I also want my students to perform together and to learn harmony parts, so I set up occasional lessons and recitals for this purpose. We don’t have a youth orchestra in my area. I like what Christine says about scales and technique too.

If you are keeping most of your students by supplementing like crazy, I think you have the answer. Are you like me and you don’t have enough students in book IV to have regular group lessons? What are you using for supplementary music that works?

Kirsten

Paula Bird said: Feb 3, 2016
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

I didn’t think it was because of book 4, because it seemed to happen at this age no matter what book they were in—4, 5, 6 or even 3. They just got interested in sports and other things they hadn’t been interested in previously. The book 4 didn’t seem to slow them down; the added extracurricular activities and interests drew their attention away. At least in my area of the country.

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com (blog)
http://teachsuzuki.com (podcast)

Rebecca said: Feb 4, 2016
 19 posts

These responses do help put it into prospective! Thanks! Right now I have 3 students in book 4, and a 4th one that just started book 4 is “taking a break” and I’m not sure when this one will return. We do get together as a group, but because of the distance some of them have to travel, it is not on a regular basis.

I try to supplement with “practical music”- things they can use in the community on their own (fiddle tunes, popular music, church music, etc.) and we are now working on Pachabel’s Canon in D for 4 violins as a group. They are all proficient in reading music. I’m starting to find that at lesson times though, they admit to only practice the supplemental pieces and not Suzuki!

Friederike said: Feb 4, 2016
Friederike Lehrbass
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Plano, TX
71 posts

Interesting you say this. It seems like there is so much homework and sports, that they often don’t have much time to practice. But I don’t think that’s all. My daughter is 13 and in book 4 and says at times she wants to quit( mostly when I ask her to practice or when there is a violin event scheduled at the same time she wants to do something fun.( Though in her case part of it might also be that her own mom is a violin teacher, what doesn’t apply to many others. She also told me that group class( she is in since January) is not as much fun and more work then the non Suzuki orchestra and group she was in for a short while 1 year ago. The quality is better at the group class though. I’m not letting her quit though. When we were children my sister wanted to quit piano at that age. Seems like it is a common thing happening at this age. But many ,who’s parents let them quit feel sorry afterwards.

Praise the Lord with the stringed instrument

Kirsten said: Feb 4, 2016
 Violin
103 posts

Rebecca: It seems like you are doing a really good job. You are recognizing what your students really need and giving them appropriate music to play that they are willing to practice. You know when they say “I only practiced Old Joe Clark,” at least they are telling you they are practicing. The group lessons are important, and it is great that the parents are willing to do some extra travel to keep them going. Tell the parents you really appreciate their effort in this regard and tell them that the group playing really helps with the motivation.

The one student that is taking a break is probably just exploring new interests, but it doesn’t mean the others will also leave. Just keep up the good work.

Kirsten

Vasuhi Klinker said: Feb 4, 2016
Vasuhi Klinker
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
12 posts

Very interesting topic. Generally by the time students get into Book 4, I have them also join our local Youth orchestra. This way they are really fired up as one of my students gushed “Oh Mrs.K the sound is out of this world. The winds, strings and brass playing Beethoven’s symphony is incredible. Please help me with the music so I can really play it well.” That’s the general response, I get from middle schoolers. Plus they are meeting other kids their age in the orchestra.
By the time my students are in Book 3, scales, Wohlfahrt (reading notes), Barbara Barbers books are required learning. So it helps prepare them to gain confidence reading and playing while at the same time keeping up their Suzuki memory learning in the Suzuki books.

Rebecca said: Feb 5, 2016
 19 posts

Thanks! Lots of things to give me a different perspective! I do wish we had a youth orchestra around here, but it won’t be in the near future.

Vasuhi Klinker said: Feb 6, 2016
Vasuhi Klinker
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
12 posts

Rebecca, I’d start a String ensemble. That’s what I did with a cello teacher and we used simple Suzuki repertoire and gradually added other short fun pieces when there wasn’t a Youth orchestra in town.

Diane said: Feb 7, 2016
 Violin, Viola
14 posts

I have heard many adults state that they are very sorry that they were allowed to quit their music lessons, mostly happening when in their teen years.

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