Playing with the CD

Christine said: Sep 20, 2007
22 posts

I attended a parent workshop at an institute this summer where we discussed the ability to playing a piece with the Suzuki CD. The teacher talked about the importance of the student being able to play with the CD, although she considered this something they would accomplish through review.

I talked with some other parents, and this requirement seemed to vary widely among teachers. Our teacher has never insisted that we be able to play with a CD to master or “pass” a piece, although she does assign a lot of metronome work. But some of the parents said their teachers wouldn’t even let a student move to the next piece until they could do play with the CD.

I was just curious what others on this list do. My kids play violin and are in book 4.

Gabriel Villasurda said: Sep 20, 2007
Gabriel VillasurdaViolin, Viola
81 posts

Playing successfully with the CD is a very good indication of accomplishment. When I visited Dr. Suzuki’s school in Matsumoto, I noticed teachers requiring this of children of all ages.

When a student can play with the CD, we know the following:

  1. The student is playing the right notes, in tune with both the recorded violin and with the harmonies of the piano.

  2. The student probably hears what the piano is doing.

  3. There is probably some attention of style, dynamics and articulation.

  4. The performance is up to tempo and without stops. All repeats are observed. Memorization is secure.

Listening to the CDs provides different benefits depending on where the student is in the process of mastery. At some point the child is just learning “how it goes”. At the other extreme, we pay attention to details and a sense of the whole.

I vote for MORE playing with the CD.

Gabriel Villasurda

Gabriel Villasurda
Ann Arbor MI

Jennifer Visick said: Sep 21, 2007
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
997 posts


Certain pieces on the CD are too fast and sound like cartoon music.

At least for violin, there are several different recordings. And there is a new one coming out with the revised version of the violin books this fall. Tempos might be more to your liking on a different version.

I agree that playing with live musicians is better than playing with a CD. I think the CD is there to substitute not merely for live performances and chamber music experiences which were not available in post-war japan, though. I think they are there to HELP substitute for the professional musician living in the home and teaching the child—which is not available to any child whose parents or guardians are not professional musicians.

Amy said: Feb 25, 2008
10 posts

One of my students wanted to play along with the CD but it was too fast. Her father tried playing it on his computer and figured out how to make it slower without distorting the sound. You may want to try that out to see if it works!

Jennifer Visick said: Feb 27, 2008
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
997 posts

There is a freeware program (for windows, I don’t know if it works on a mac) called Audacity, which allows you to slow down a recording without changing the pitch.

Meg said: Mar 7, 2008
Meg Lanfear
Suzuki Association Member
36 posts

This is another wonderful aspect of the Step By Step series by Kerstin Wartberg. With her recordings there are numerous opportunities to play not only pieces but spots with piano at various speeds. Kerstin has recorded the Suzuki pieces at slower tempos with both piano and violin. The medium and fast tempos are piano only as the piece is most likely in the students fingers/ear by the time they are playing at this tempo.

The violin playing is clear and musical while still simple, but not dumbed down at all. The piano playing is truly beautiful and imaginative. Would highly recommend this series as it gives more guidance and structure to both teaching and practice in addition to providing more “music making” in a students’ practice session.

In this way, playing with the CD can provide opportunities for focus on technical refinement while also preparing for performance, inspiring the child, and providing a sense of the larger picture.

said: Feb 8, 2009
 36 posts

I agree with freesia

Live is better. The CD performances are not set in stone. In fact, there is a big difference between what is written for example in Book 1 Allegretto and Andantino with the accents and staccatos. The CD does not play these at all. I think playing with the CD is a great skill, but by no means required. If there are teachers who require this then they should really be fired. Oh wait I’ve got it! Why don’t we ask to student to actually read the music! Or better yet, come up with their interpretations of dynamics. Instead of this monkey see monkey do crap. Teach the kids how to be creative for god’s sake!!

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