relative practice days for book 1


Jennifer Visick said: Jun 24, 2010
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1076 posts

As I was going through my files, I came across a chart which claims to describe the relative number of practice days needed to learn Gossec’s Gavotte (violin/viola) compared to all the rest of the Book 1 and Early Book 2 pieces.

But it has 19 Book one pieces and there are only 17 pieces in violin Book 1. There are 19 in the viola book 1, but when I try to fit the songs to the viola pieces, the relative time needed just doesn’t seem to fit the pieces very well.

Any thoughts as to how this mystery fits? I think I got this file online, perhaps even from this forum, so if you’re familiar with it, I’d appreciate some insight!


Michelle said: Jun 24, 2010
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
25 posts

It is off the viola books if you do it this way:
1. Twinkles
2. French Folk Song (easy doesn’t take very long)
3. Lightly Row
4. Song of the Wind
5. Go tell Aunt Rhody (not sure why this is harder than Song of the Wind)
6. O Come Little Children (yeah this is harder)
7. May Song (easier)
8. Long Long Ago
9. Allegro (perhaps this is long for working on tone, not just note learning)
10. Perpetual Motion (if you’ve prepared 4, most students can do it by ear on the first go)
11. Allegretto (second longest to learn after Gavotte, hard)
12. Andantino (after Allegretto, this is really easy)
13. Bohemian Folks Song
14. Etude (another one that takes some time)
15. Minuet 1
16. Minuet 2
17. Minuet 3 (getting easier by the time you hit 3)
18. Happy Farmer
19. Gossec Gavotte

Sure, Perpetual Motion looks short compared to what you would think from looking at it. But thinking about how my students approach it, they all do learn all the notes in just one week. There are no complicated rhythms, and very little in the way of difficult string crossings. I’m also not sure why there would be more time on Allegro unless they are perfecting the ringing 3 and landing without bounce before it’s considered done with its days. Other than those 2, they mostly make sense to me.

Now available in blog form.

Sue Hunt said: Jun 24, 2010
Sue HuntViola, Violin
403 posts

Well, Gossec is HARD! It’s really 4 pieces in one. There are several new techniques to master which is going to take time. It’s up to us teachers and parents to stack the deck in favour of optimum learning.

said: Jun 28, 2010
 48 posts

RaineJen, that graph was something I posted in the Parents Forum here quite a while back. It’s a chart I made based on the time it took my own daughter to finish each piece (yes, this is for the viola version of book 1). As such, please understand that it’s just based on one child, not an average, so there may be some idiosyncratic patterns there.

In particular, it’s somewhat affected by the season in which each piece was being studied—she was learning Allegretto in the summer, when we had a couple of weeks with no lesson due to the teacher’s (and our) vacation plans, so Allegretto took longer than expected.

Likewise, the time for Gossec Gavotte was probably stretched out because (in addition to it being a really difficult piece to learn) she was preparing to play it in a recital (why?!?!?!?!) so we delayed starting book 2 longer than we might have otherwise.

Come to think of it, she was also preparing Allegro for a performance, so that probably explains why it was slightly longer than some of the other mid-book1 pieces.

I left the actual numbers off the y-axis of the graph because I wanted to keep the focus on the relative amount of time for each piece, and not feed into the questions about “Is my child progressing too slowly?” that pop up all the time in the Parents Forum.

If you have any other questions about that chart, let me know. I’m kind of curious whether anyone has ever compiled anything like that but more systematically, for a large number of students …

Sarah said: Jun 28, 2010
 11 posts

For my three boys, learning the Twinkles took the longest. My first spent about 9 months learning them. My second spent about seven months, and my third (who began shortly before his third birthday) spent about 16 months on them.

Lightly Row took my first son about 5 months. Seriously, I never thought he’d learn it. My second son took a couple of months and my third (the one who spent the longest on the Twinkles) learned Lightly Row within a couple of weeks. However, he’s still working on making it sound like a song. He plays the right notes and bowings at least.

Besides those two songs, Waltz from book 2 strikes me as one that took a long time for both my first and second son to learn. I can’t remember exatly how long, but we did take a long time with that song. The bowing, the timing and the dynamics were tough.

I don’t think we spent a significantly long time on the Gossec Gavotte, but then that might depend on what counts as time spent on a piece. Our teacher was really good about giving us small pieces of upcoming songs to work with, so we had already begun practicing certain bars of Gavotte long before we actually started the song. It could be that because they had already practiced the tricky bits once we got to the song it wasn’t as difficult.

said: Jul 3, 2010
 48 posts

Okay, just for fun I updated that through mid-book 3 (and labeled it more clearly).

Gossec Gavotte still looks like Mt Everest.

There might be some viola-centric differences in book 2. Lully Gavotte and Minuet in G both involve some high-speed shifting between first and third positions in the viola version. I don’t know if that’s the same in the violin version (I seem to recall that the violins don’t get to do shifting until later….) Anyway, that’s probably why the Beethoven Minuet in G is such an outlier.

There is obviously a lot of piece-to-piece variation, and frequently a hard piece is followed by an easier one. Overall, there is a slight but statistically significant increase in the time to learn each piece. (For the quantitatively-minded, the trend works out to about + 3% of the length of the median book 1 piece … so if a typical book 1 piece takes a month to learn, then on average each new piece will take one day longer than the previous piece).


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