Getting kids to take more ownership [Self-Scoring Card]

Edward said: Oct 16, 2019
Edward Obermueller
Suzuki Association Member
Morris Plains, NJ
73 posts

I’ve noticed that many students play something and then stand there waiting to be told what to do next. When I see this, I ask them to score themselves. “How was your tone on a scale of 1—10″? Then we work together to see how to make, say, a 5 into a 6, increasing awareness and attention to what is coming out of their playing.

I go into more detail in my latest practice tip article: Check Your Vitals. There is a free Self-scoring Card resource there as well, for beginner and intermediate levels.

If you have feedback about this topic or the self-scoring tool, I would love to hear it!

Happy practicing,

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Kurt Meisenbach said: Oct 26, 2019
Kurt Meisenbach
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
Plano, TX
45 posts

What you are doing make perfect sense, and it is consistent with what scientists and educators tell us about the psychology of learning. When a child answers a question, they remember their answer better than when someone else (the teacher) tells them the same thing.

Science tells us more. When we make a prediction about what we are going to learn when we study something, it opens our brain up to absorb more knowledge. It causes us to learn and remember more than just studying without having asked a question or made a prediction.

I apply this principle (the same one that you describe) in various ways, and I explain these in detail in a book I have written to teach parents how to practice successfully with their children. Here are two examples:

  1. I once had a 6 year-old who was playing the Twinkle variations. I asked him what he would do to make it sound better. He said he would play with a straighter bow. I said “Let’s do that.” After he did it I asked him if it sounded better (it did). He said yes. I then asked him what else he would do to make it sound better. He said he would flatten the bow and play between the bridge and fingerboard. He then did that and it sounded even better. He was teaching himself and becoming more self-aware. Both of these are essential to good practice. They are also characteristics of successful executives. Another example how music prepares us for a richer and more successful life.

  2. I ask a student “If we play this passage 5 times slowly and carefully, what do you think is going to happen?” Sometimes the student gives a thoughtful answer, sometimes not. I don’t fuss over their answer. The important thing is that they are asking questions and becoming curious about the relationship between thoughtful practice and progress. Over time the questions go deeper and so does the learning.

Where possible, I try to teach by asking questions rather than telling. Once a student has been told something, they are ready to respond positively to questions. This is a fascinating area in learning psychology and child psychology. I salute you for doing it.

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