Time it takes to practice review pieces


said: Apr 30, 2006
 2 posts

Hi I’m new here. My son (eight) started cello in November, and is now doing Song of the Wind, the fourth piece in the book. How does it work when the kids have twenty or so songs to review all the time? Do they do a rotating schedule throughout the week, or are they supposed to just go through each one once each day, or do they end up practicing longer and longer all the time? One would think that a kid under ten wouldn’t be practicing more than an hour a day? Right now he is doing about half an hour, but he is also doing the I Can Read book, and now a trio part for the June recital. I’d be interested to know how it all works. :confused:

said: Apr 30, 2006
 122 posts

I have my students play every peice in Book 1 every day until they start Book 2. It’s amazing how the student’s technique progresses rapidly by doing review. To play the violin Book 1 straight through takes 20 minutes. Add a few ’shake out’ breaks, notereading, and the new peice, and the child even at the end of the book can get through practice easily in 45 minutes.

“When love is deep, much can be accomplished.”
-Shinichi Suzuki

said: May 1, 2006
 2 posts

Thanks for the reply Junebug. I’ll try to make sure we do it that way. But what do you do if the child makes a mistake or messes up the bowing or plays out of tune on several notes? Do you make them do it again, or plough on through? I know my son will play something perfectly for a week or even two, and then there will suddenly be a lazy bow, a rushed rhythm, or he’ll be off in dreamland and put down the wrong fingers. What then? Right now we certainly go over it again, but when he has ten or so pieces to work on each day how does it work?

Jennifer Visick said: May 4, 2006
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1021 posts

If I can find it, there’s a quote from Dr. Suzuki…. well, several actually.

in 1977, at a teacher’s conference, Suzuki handed out a paper which included these statements:

“If you suceed in making every student practice at least two hours (happily), then the ability will be developed….. get the cooperation of the mothers, making sure every student practice for two hours every day. Tell mothers that this is the rule of the Suzuki Method from this year on!….. If love is deep, much can be accomplished. Therefore, be careful [take care]….”

One of my teacher trainers emphasized that what he meant was two hours of playing—reviewing is how you get this time in; obviously two hours of practicing new material is rather too much for the attention span of even most adults! Suzuki kept on saying that what a child LIKES is to play what he CAN play well—and that means the review pieces.

Melissa said: May 4, 2006
 Piano, Flute
151 posts

I do the same as junebug.

If need be, and this does happen, we go back and work on a review piece as needed until all pieces in Book 1 are at performance level.

Consistent review, making sure pieces are played well, is the whole idea of developing ability.

said: Jan 30, 2007
 3 posts


How does it work when the kids have twenty or so songs to review all the time? Do they do a rotating schedule throughout the week, or are they supposed to just go through each one once each day, or do they end up practicing longer and longer all the time?

You might ask your son’s teacher for specific requirements, but my sons’ teacher gave us a review chart that has the student practicing each review piece once a week. If you send me a private message with your email, I’ll be glad to send you the chart we have (I actually have the charts for violin, viola, and cello). It’s in an Excel spreadsheet.

said: Mar 3, 2007
 6 posts

HA! That’ll be the day. I agree with almost everything Dr. Suzuki ever said, and have been a devoted parent of a Suzuki student for five years, but two hours practice (or even joyful playing) every day is too much to ask. Little kids who don’t have as many school obligations, maybe. Perhaps Dr. Suzuki was not aware of the level of homework that would be required of middle and high school age kids in the 21st Century!

This is my biggest (and maybe only) beef with Suzuki in general. For the younger kids the method and philosophy is right on. But where is the specific help and advice from Suzuki for parents of older students, teenagers loaded with homework, who are plenty proficient on their instruments and really love to play, but are struggling with the demands and distractions of adolescence?

The time needed to improve skills and maintain review pieces just increases and increases. What are our goals here??? Do we want these teenagers to give up music because the demands are so great? Is the only choice to either give up or become a music major? Where is the middle ground?

said: Mar 3, 2007
 44 posts

I agree with you, christldc. When my kids go to middle school, it was all I could do just to get through each day with all of us in one piece. the social, emotional, and educaional demands on US kids in middle school is unbelievable. I never wanted or even considered home-schooling, as some of my friends did ,so that there would be more time for practice. In middle school, I just tried to get them to practice a few minutes—maybe just 15 minutes, every day, because daily practice is so much better than sporadic practice. I let them practice anything they wanted, but usually would suggest they do their etude or scale and something else. I just wanted my kids to love music. They all played very well. One of the 3 is majoring in music and the other two (out of college) still play. That is all I ever wanted. We were blessed with some very experienced and wise teachers who all were very understanding of the teen year angst. Despite little, slow, or no progress for months a time, they stayed positive and encouraging. All of the three eventually decided they really wanted to play and took on the responsibility of their own practice during high school. The fourth child is just starting this period now, so I know what to expect and where it will hopefully lead. I have to make my kids do so many things, I don’t want music to be a battlefield, too.

Jennifer Visick said: Mar 14, 2007
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1021 posts

I just heard Ed Kreitman speak about practicing, and his suggestion for review was to have a student review “one book behind” the song they are currently working on learning how to play. Thus, a book 3 student reviews book 2 until they are half way through book 3, then they reveiw book 3 until they are halfway through book 4, etc. The idea is that you don’t have to review EVERYTHING because a student who can consistently play book 2 (and who spent all of book 1 and half of book 2 consistently reviewing book 1) is not going to have trouble playing book 1 pieces, and all the techniques that need practice from book 1 are there, being practiced, in the next book level.

This means that the student spends about 80% of the practice time reviewing and warming up and practicing (refining) techniques they already can do; and the rest of the time consequently ends up being more efficiently used because the student ONLY has to work on the new techniques in the new piece, and doesn’t struggle with the techniques in the rest of the piece.

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