Too fast in moving on to the next piece?

Nadia said: Nov 8, 2009
16 posts

My son has begun his learning violin one year ago. We switched the instructor 2 months ago; since then we have moved on from Minuet 1 to Gavotte. The instructor told me that my son plays fine for a five year-old. He loves learning new pieces and seems to gain sense of achievement from that. However, I tend to want my son to really learn each piece well and have a better tone before going onto the next piece. While my son seems above average, he is not “exceptional”; i.e. not keen on details, such as playing each half note everytime. Both my son and I really like the current instructor. He is a concert master in a local orchestra and is said to be good at teaching kids/youth, and I want to trust his judgement. But what would be the reasonable expectation for five year-old in terms of mastery of each piece? Is my expectation to high on five year-old who’s been learning for a year?

Susan said: Nov 10, 2009
 16 posts

That sounds quite fast to me. In particular, there is a lot of bowing content in the Minuets & Happy Farmer that often takes a while to master. But that being said, I have not seen or heard your child, or your teacher’s style or rationale, so I not passing judgment by any means. One of the joys & challenges of teaching Suzuki is working out creative & enjoyable ways to get students more deeply into the music and the requisite skills. This can be particularly difficult in competition-driven USA. Have you considered scheduling a conference w/your new teacher (and w/o your son?) to talk about your perspective? I recently began lessons w/an 11-year-old who came from a program where memorizing instantly led to a new piece. But for this child, memorizing seems to mean struggling through w/o ever referring to a book, and with accidentals, bowings & dynamics not well in place. It is taking some effort to change a mindset here, but fortunately the parent is w/me. You may find the same with your teacher if he understands that moving through a book is not your goal.

said: Nov 19, 2009
 30 posts

The best advice I can give you is to work with the Step by Step series (book and CD).

Vol. 1B is from Perpetual Motion until Gossec and vol. 2A is from Chorus til Handel Bourrée. Here your son can play each piece in three different tempos and practice the most important exercises for new finger patterns, new bow strokes, scales etc.

If he can master these steps on a good playing level you can be quite sure that he can go on. This is a kind of test—you will find out the standard of the ability of your son without the help of his teacher.
If he is not able to play well along the pieces in different tempos of the Suzuki Violin School, he can fill his gapes with this material which is designed as a practice help for Suzuki students and parents. Good luck!

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