Etude block. . please help!

Sarah Rittmeyer said: Sep 27, 2008
3 posts

I posted this in the parent’s corner as well- sorry for the cross post. . .still not certain how things work around here. : )
I was hoping someone would have a good idea to help me assist my boys with learning Etude- book one. My youngest (7) is learning it both on cello and violin and says the middle is tripping him up- he just can’t seem to wrap his head around it. My eldest (8) somehow managed to get through book one with only a half mastery of etude ( on the violin)—again, I think the middle is the issue. Any tips?

Coutier said: Sep 27, 2008
Coutier Rademaker58 posts

Just a few tips:

If that happens to my students I get them to practice the middle separate from the beginning for a while. That might bring some frustration as many kids hate starting somewhere in the middle of something; they prefer starting all over again when they get stuck. The problem with Etude is that it is too abstract and the beginning is too far away from the middle, so by the time they do get to the middle they get lost again and find themselves in a pattern of taking the same wrong turn.

As a child I could easily recite Roman Catholic prayers as long as I did it very quickly. When asked to do it slowly, I would go wrong. I guess kids try to see the pieces they play as one block or as a number of clearly defined blocks as in Twinkle and the Menuets, that is what their memory prefers, because it is easiest.
Etude means real work for—I guess—a different part of the brain: they have to do creative thinking rather than memorizing. And that hurts!

I am very alert about “pattern-mistakes”. If they make the same mistake more than three times I ask them to verbalize what went wrong and what should be done instead and to promise themselves to not make that mistake again. And then play it with them five times or ten times or more with a lazy and easy grin on my face, showing “see how easy this is?”

I advise my students and their parents to really take Etude seriously and work hard and with awareness. The more frustration they build up the more difficult it will be for them to focus and reach the solution. So the quicker it is tackled the better.

And sometimes you have to bow your head in defeat. If, for whatever reason, frustration is so big that they start hating their instrument and you and playing this piece only brings despair and misery, skip it for a while and come back to it somewhere in book 2.

You know, actually I have grown fond of Etude and I try to “sell” it to my students as an adventure into real violin playing.

Do you know the whacky text we have for Etude?

Henrietta Popoletta had a special friend
to play called Wilhelmina window cleaner she had brought along
her football Henrietta Popoletta picked it up and threw
it back to Wilhelmina window cleaner and it crashed right throught the window
Mother came right down the stairs and called to father
Father came right down the stairs and quickly picked up
Henrietta Popoletta picked her up and said “O my!” and sent her off to bed.

Good luck!


Sarah Rittmeyer said: Sep 27, 2008
3 posts

Thank you! you gave me some good ideas- my boys LOVE challenges. . but do suffer from the ” I hate starting in the middle syndrome” you mention- maybe if I come at it from the different angles you have suggested we will make progress- thanks again!

Sarah Rittmeyer said: Sep 27, 2008
3 posts

Wonderful! My guys are rolling on the floor laughing at the words you assigned! That’s a far cry from the frustration tears surrounded etude this AM- thanks!

Coutier said: Sep 27, 2008
Coutier Rademaker58 posts

Delighted to hear it!


said: Sep 30, 2008
 36 posts

To play Etude. 1.) He must clap the rhythm—saying the note names 2.) air finger the left hand or pizz—saying the note names 3.) air bow—saying the note names 4.) play as written

Suzuki does not teach this, but Kató Havas and other do. If you child is not reading the notes, he will not get anywhere.
I see it all the time. That’s why I teach.

Jennifer said: Oct 26, 2008
Jennifer Moberg PforteViolin, Viola
Islamabad`, Pakistan
71 posts

I used to have a really hard time teaching this (actually had one student trying for almost 4 months!!) until I saw the following patterns:

DGAB (i call this gordon… from thomas and friends- my kids love it. i use gordon because i want the kids to remember to go to G…)
DABC (i call this one arthur… also from thomas and friends)
DCBA (d down the scale or backwards d)
EDCB (e down the scale or backwards e)
GBDG (great wall of china)
DF#AA (disneyland…)

and the rest is just scales. by the time they get to etude i already have them playing a, d and g scales, with a good working knowledge of what a scale actually is. i have them play the aforementioned patterns a million times while they’re learning g major 2 octave scale/allegretto/andantino/tonalization so that when we actually get to the big bad etude, all i have to do play it while saying the patterns and they can pretty much just do it.

i know a teacher who puts those patterns on colored coordinated cards and has the kids ‘play the colors-’ same idea, just different language.

good luck!

“Music exists for the purpose of growing an admirable heart.”

Teri said: May 7, 2009
Teri EinfeldtTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
397 posts

In answer to the following:

<<”Suzuki does not teach this, but Kató Havas and other do. If you child is not reading the notes, he will not get anywhere. I see it all the time. That’s why I teach.>>”

Since this is a Suzuki Philosophy/Pedagogy based forum and most people who participate in this chat have had extensive training, I believe that most of us believe that Etude can be learned very successfully by ear. Reading is a separate issue.

As a professional violinist myself, I support the fact that reading is a necessary element of a musician’s path. However, as a teacher trainer, and Suzuki teacher of 37 years, I also support the fact even more that developing the ear is essential for a comprehensive musical education. Great sensitivity towards articulation, phrasing and intonation can be gained through this “ear training”. I strongly believe that ears trained through this method increase a person’s sensitivity to language and people in general through really listening to what people are saying and how they say it.

Explaining the form of the piece in “kid friendly language” and using such words as bridges, descending scales, A section, etc with the extra bonus of the child’s repeated listening to the corresponding CD makes this quite accessible to learn. In addition, skills learned in previous pieces, and musical references gradually added through out all add to the readiness for learning this piece.

Reading needs to be done with a separate book that parallels the Suzuki book but not until there is solid, well formed posture and balance in both hands and feet, and not until the ear has had a chance to blossom. This of course depends on the age of the child. Until such time as a child is ready to begin on her reading journey, there are pre-reading activities that can and should be developed.

said: Jun 2, 2009
 10 posts

I’m a teacher. I show students one thing only, that there is a pattern “once, twice, up, finish” for the groups of four eighth notes. That said, my way of getting the underlying harmony of etude into kid’s heads and hearts and thus helping them “hear” it is to show them the accompanying melody: BBBA CCCB BBBA CCCB in half notes against the backdrop of them playing the eighth notes. This is the melodic underpinning, if you will, of the running etude notes. Works every time. It’s actually a very, very simple melody. Trying to have them count notes or letter names or other such non-musical stuff can make it actually more frustrating and less musical. Use the ear!

said: Jun 16, 2009
 17 posts

I remember those lyrics from when I worked on Etude! I use them with my students, too. It’s good to tell them the lyrics at a stressful point in the lesson, because (for me at least) they forget the problem and start laughing!

Tiffany said: Jun 18, 2009
Tiffany Osborn
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
Los Angeles, CA
49 posts

We Suzuki teachers have quite a different approach to teaching than ddm, and while I believe every system of teaching has strengths and weaknesses, I personally do not want my students to memorize pieces as a series of numbers or letters, but rather a sequence of pitches that rise and fall with inflections and articulations, lest they memorize the Bach Double as “D 1 2 3 A 3 2 A…” Ear training is a separate skill that reading-only methods lack (and our kids do read- everyday, just not with Suzuki material). But I digress.

Holly22a- I love your idea of the underlying melody- I use that a lot, but I hadn’t thought of it for Etude! I’ll use that for sure!

To help kids get over the hump in the middle, I point out that it is an arpeggio that links the first and second half together: (B) G B D G and then it’s all scales. Long before this point, I start talking about arpeggios at least by May Song, and then I have them learn D major arpeggio when they do D major stuff, then just before Etude we do G major lower octave, learn the letters, and do the higher octave, and 2 octave scales and arpeggio (it’s fun to say too “GBDGBDG”).

If they are very young, I would use a song instead, but if they are old enough to understand the concept, I think learning about arpeggios- and recognize them by hearing them (not just by reciting sequences of letters!) and using them is helpful musical tool- they are everywhere!

This topic is locked. No new comments can be posted.

You must log in to post comments.

A note about the discussion forum: Public discussion forum posts are viewable by anyone. Anyone can read the forums, but you must create an account with your email address to post. Private forums are viewable by anyone that is a part of that private forum's group. Discussion forum posts are the opinion of the poster and do not constitute endorsement by or official position of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, Inc.

Please do not use the discussion forums to advertise products or services