losing focus in piece and forgetting what comes next


Donna said: Jan 25, 2017
Donna Granda
Suzuki Association Member
Jackson, NJ
7 posts

I have a student that practices regularly, has a mom that is very involved(she plays the violin too) and works on what I ask them too.
My student is 5 and mostly forgets where she is in the song while she is playing. She can usually play one line of a song from memory but after that she forgets what comes next. Long long ago was very tough for her and also allegro. I started her on note reading but she is also having trouble with that. She is in kindergarten and her mom says sometimes she can read words just fine and other times she can’t. The same thing happens with violin, sometimes she can play the songs fine at home but mostly she forgets what comes next. I have a feeling she has some kind of learning issue but I’m afraid to mention it. I could use some ideas on how to work with her.

Sue Hunt said: Jan 26, 2017
Sue HuntViola, Violin
403 posts

She’s still very little. I would just take it easy and the necessary focus will come with time. It could be a slight case of overwhelm causing everything to shut down, especially if she is worried about getting it wrong.

How much listening do they do? My most successful beginners had the Suzuki repertoire on all day in the kitchen at a low volume. They mostly listened to book 1, but also listened to later books and other favourite pieces for motivation.

Can I recommend “Study Listening” which I heard about from Mark Mutter. Basically, you follow the music, pointing to the notes in the score, while listening to a slowed down recording.

You could make up a story to go with the music. This will be specially useful for pieces like Etude. There are lots of lyrics for the Book 1 pieces.

Probably all that is needed is a very light touch and praise for working at it, not for getting it perfect.

Laura Burgess said: Jan 26, 2017
Laura Burgess
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
34 posts

Hi Donna,

Have them learn words or even better make up words to the piece and sing it together. The singing and the words help the student sequence the piece. I would also talk about the form, so in Long Long Ago, two lines are identical and one is similar to them and one is different. I call them A, A1 and B. I would temporarily prompt or ask which section is next, then stop when not needed. Are they in group class?

Laura Burgess

Heather Reichgott said: Jan 26, 2017
Heather ReichgottPiano
South Hadley, MA
102 posts

If she can sing a short song like Mary Had a Little Lamb without getting lost, it’s not a learning issue. See if she can do that.
Some students just take a little longer with sequencing by ear. These students do like reading once they get up to speed. Until then, words and singing help. I also like lining up a parade of little toys and moving one toy down the “street” during each phrase. I also have the student move a toy for each phrase while I play.

Edward said: Jan 31, 2017
Edward Obermueller
Suzuki Association Member
Morris Plains, NJ
73 posts

Finger charts have worked wonders for my youngest students with focus issues. What i find is that with just that extra bit of cueing from the finger numbers they don’t lose focus as easily and can even start learning and memorizing on their own. (One of my 6-year-olds used them to rocket from Twinkle to Allegro in almost no time, I almost couldn’t believe it.)

I also put together a lyrics packet for all the first-half book one songs. Kids love them. Usually they gravitate toward either lyrics or the finger charts, but some kids use both.

I have created a special page for fellow teachers where all of these resources are free:


The password is suzuki.

The finger charts also come with instructions on how to use them. Let me know if you find something helpful there!

Happy practicing,

Free Guide: Mom, Dad, Can I Practice?
Free Game: Leprechaun Practice System --> Works for online teaching!

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