Student fumbles, can’t recover place in piece

Lori Bolt said: Jun 9, 2016
Lori Bolt
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
San Clemente, CA
226 posts

One of my Bk. 2 students struggles with being able to pick herself up in a piece when she makes a mistake. This is happening in review pieces at home, not as much at lessons—though I do hear review at lessons. Her mom and I talked about it, and are thinking the girl is on auto-pilot until a mistake happens, then isn’t able to remember what she’s to play. The girl admits she sometimes daydreams while playing.
Any helpful ideas for her and for preventing this in other students?

She has about 10 review pieces to retain from Bk 1 and is about five pieces into Bk 2. TIA :)

Lori Bolt

Edmund Sprunger said: Jun 9, 2016
Edmund SprungerTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Saint Louis, MO
99 posts

My YouTube video—”Playing in Sentences”—describes what I take all of my students through, so that that they can learn how to divide up their pieces and stop themselves.

Edmund Sprunger
sprungerstudio.com
yespublishing.com

Paula Bird said: Jun 9, 2016
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

How about playing her review pieces with the parts out of order? Or just the 3rd parts one day, last parts, etc. Or play really slowly at turtle speed, or standing on 1 foot, or eyes closed and tongue sticking out. She has to pay attention now. My more advanced students have to play by memory at half and 3/4 speed to strengthen memory.

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

Sue Hunt said: Jun 10, 2016
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
389 posts

Does she do her listening? Has she tried listening while following the music and pointing to the notes?

Lori Bolt said: Jun 10, 2016
Lori Bolt
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
San Clemente, CA
226 posts

Thanks for the great suggestions so far :)
I want to add that I assign phrases, then sections on all new pieces for all my students (as they learn it), so they learn to start anywhere (hopefully!). I create a daily review schedule when the number of pieces to review grows too large to play every piece daily. They end up with about 4 groups that rotate daily, each piece coming up once or twice weekly. There are maybe 5pieces in a group.

I know this family listens a good deal. She makes good progress, can hum the melodies if asked. The problem described by mom was review takes too long due to so much forgetting, unable to play older pieces through, stopping/restarting, etc.
She did have a 7 month break, returning 5 months ago to lessons. She is 8 or 9 years old.

Lori Bolt

Paula Bird said: Jun 10, 2016
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

Well that’s probably it, she’s 8 or 9 years old. I’ll bet her mother will tell you there are lots of instances of “huh?” and “what?” going on. I ask parents if it seems as if aliens have come in the middle of the night and sucked her brain cells. Parents know what I mean. There is a fogginess. This is a time period of huge growth in the child physically, and when this happens, the brain synapses pull apart for a time. You can have them briefly reconnect by asking the child questions that require verbal answers (”use your words” I have to tell them). For a brief few seconds, you will see the eyes clear up, and then the task is completed, and then the eyes glaze over again.

Seems to happen every two years, but the periods of time at age 9 and 13 are the worst. These phases pass. I use the questioning and verbal answer technique and a lot of patience to get through these phases.

I always liked Laurie Scott’s answer when asked why a 7 year old kept forgetting their songs and other things: “He’s 7!” That about sums it up here: “She’s 9! That’s what they do.”

Hang in there. The mom must see this elsewhere in their daily lives, I’m sure.

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

Phankao said: Jun 16, 2016
Phankao WanPiano, Viola, Violin
128 posts

We do the “Practise in Parts” plus jumbling up the parts to practise often. My 7yo has been doing that since he was real little—just starting out , so much so that he studies the scores and splits it up into parts himself now. It’s only later when I watch him practising that I might further split some parts for further target work.

In any case, stumbling in practising at home? I wouldn’t worry so much about it unless the child is in the last stages of training for a recital or something?

But yeah, I also do have to remind mine not to daydream after the mid point of the piece too. Thankfully it’s a rare day that he has memory lapses.

Carolyn Smith said: Jun 17, 2016
 Cello
6 posts

It helps for the child to make a story for each piece and then name the sections something evocative that has to do with that story. Then you could just say to the child, “start at the “foggy night” section or the “fist shaking” section. It also helps to have the child recreate the piece with something visual such as playdoh—make each section different shapes or colors and then have them lay their “piece” on the floor and then play it and alternate where they start and finish./—

Heather Reichgott said: Jun 17, 2016
Heather ReichgottPiano
South Hadley, MA
94 posts

If she’s able to play the review pieces well during lessons, then I wouldn’t worry.

Lori Bolt said: Jun 18, 2016
Lori Bolt
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
San Clemente, CA
226 posts

Edmund’s video was helpful. Usually, I don’t see this problem in the lesson. It seems that at home, if she misses a note she can’t always recover and she gets angry. I did learn after talking more to her and mom this week that the B section (or that “different” phrase) is often the problem. I then learned that she believes she can’t start in the middle of her Bk 1 pieces in order to practice that part. I think she can, especially if her memory is jogged by consulting the score. She reads well enough to figure it out.

We’re going to try more listening to Review, and playing “B” this week.
I really think she gets to “B” and her mind wanders.

Lori Bolt

Paula Bird said: Jun 18, 2016
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

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