Words to Suzuki pieces

said: Feb 15, 2008
 103 posts

Hi everyone,

This really could be asked of teachers or parents but, thought I’d ask here. Suggestions from both are quite welcome. One of my students learns her pieces best if we sing lyrics to the melodies prior to playing it. I haven’t used lyrics very often so I don’t have them for each tune. This student is currently polishing Go Tell Aunt Rhody and previewing O Come Little Children.

I’d love to have word idea’s for any of the Suzuki book 1 pieces, though at the moment I’m specifically looking for something for O Come Little Children (besides the bowing that we’ve been singing & air bowing), and May Song.

Any good words out there that you’d be willing to share? Thanks in advance!

Nobuaki said: Feb 15, 2008
Nobuaki Tanaka
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Mount Prospect, IL
115 posts

I recommend to purchase a book call
“violin verses” by Judy Gilligan & Diane Wagstaff

You may purchase it from either sharmusic or swstrings

said: Feb 15, 2008
 30 posts

Hello Twinkle Rhythms,

There are very good words for almost all pieces of book 1 in STEP by STEP, volumes 1A and 1B (Kerstin Wartberg). Children just love them.

Here are some examples:

Go tell Aunt Rhody

Go tell Aunt Rho-dy, babe is sle-e-ping. Ho-o -ly an—gels gua-ard his bed;
Heav-en-ly bless-ings with-out n-um-ber, gen-tly fal-ling on his head.
Go tell Aunt Rho-dy, babe is sle-e-ping. Ho-o -ly an—gels gua-ard his bed.

Maysong

Spring is here, the birds are so near, lis-ten to their sing-ing.
Black and yel-low, pur-ple and blue, sing their pret-ty song just for you.
Spring is here, the birds are so near, lis-ten to their sing-ing.

Allegro = Thunderstorm

Light-ning, light-ning, rain-ing, rain-ing, light-ning,
Light-ning, light-ning, rain-ing cats and dogs. (repeat)

Sun come out now, take a big bow, let us feel your wondrous warmth.

Light-ning, light-ning, rain-ing, rain-ing, light-ning,
Light-ning, light-ning, rain-ing cats and dogs.

Good luck with your young students. I agree with you: Singing is the most natural musical action and the best preparation for new pieces.

Martina

Comments about STEP by STEP, the best Suzuki publication I ever have seen, are also here:
https://suzukiassociation.org/suzukiforum/viewtopic.php?t=1789

If you want to listen to some sound tracks from the CD look into the homepage of the German Suzuki Institute: http://www.germansuzuki.de/

Coutier said: Feb 16, 2008
Coutier RademakerViolin
58 posts

A collegue from France gave me the following whacky text to Etude. I am not 100% certain about the language but it does fit, even though it might take a few tries. Just trust you’ll reach the end safely

“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 through 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 “oh my” and sent her off to bed.”

coutier

Laurel said: Feb 18, 2008
Laurel MacCullochViolin
Langley, BC
120 posts

Here’s what we learned for O Come Little Children in a Suzuki baby/toddler class. You might have to change/not use it if students from other religions might be sensitive, however.

O Come little children, o come one and all
O come to the manger in Bethlehem’s stall
Come see the dear baby asleep in the hay
The sweet little baby was born Christmas Day.

One of my parents made this up for May Song:

Now the month of May is here, all the children give cheer!
Sun is shining all around; flowers blooming on the ground;
Now the month of May is here, all the children give cheer!

Long, Long Ago:

Long long ago on a bright sunny day
I saw a frog on top a log.
Long long ago on a bright sunny day
I saw a frog on a log.
He jumped so high that I thought he could fly
He jumped so high that I thought he could fly
Long long ago on a bright sunny day
I saw a frog on a log.

Lots of variations for Allegro, but here’s one:

Head head ears ears no-ose no-ose shoulders
Waist waist legs legs feet and toes (Repeat)
Stand quite still now, stand quite still now, stand quite still and stay right theeeeeerrrrrrrre….
Head head ears ears etc.

(the “Stand quite still” part can be thrown in any time kids in a group class are getting antsy and you need to control them!)

Laurel

Jennifer said: Feb 21, 2008
Jennifer Moberg
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Dehbori Kabul, Afghanistan
71 posts

here’s one i have my choir kids sing for allegro:

monkeys monkeys swinging through the treetops
monkeys monkeys swinging through the air

monkeys monkeys swinging through the treetops
monkeys monkeys swinging through the air

mushed bananas, mushed bananas
mushed bananas in your hair!

monkeys monkeys swinging through the treetops
monkeys monkeys swinging through the air

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

www.ViolinsAndChinrest.com

Redding Farlow said: Mar 19, 2008
Redding Farlow Soderberg
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Myrtle Beach, SC
20 posts

I only use words for a few of the Book 1 pieces and they are below. I wish I knew who to give the credit to for writing these lyrics because I am not the author.

Lightly Row

AKA “The Violin Song”

This is my vi-o-lin. This is where I put my chin.
E, A, D, G are the four strings and the F-holes let them ring.
Here’s the front and here’s the back, if I drop it it might crack.
So I hold it close beside me rest position now you see.

Song of the Wind

AKA “The Crocodile Song”

Once there was a crocodile who snapped at all he saw. (CLAP!)
Snapped at all he saw. (CLAP!)
‘Til he snapped a rock and got a toothache in his jaw, jaw, jaw.
‘Til he snapped a rock and got a toothache in his jaw.
(repeat)

For the beginning of Minuet 2 with the arpeggiated pattern that ends in the down up up (going from G on Estring to two up bow Gs on Dstring) I teach:
Have you seen my purple din-o-saur? (repeat)

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” -Sir Winston Churchill

Laurel said: Mar 22, 2008
Laurel MacCullochViolin
Langley, BC
120 posts

I believe those ones are from Susan Kempter’s book, “Between Parent and Teacher”. I use them too.

I like “This is my violin” because my beginners, who are still on box violins at Christmas, have something they can perform at the December recital.

Laurel

said: Apr 13, 2008
 55 posts

Last summer I learned new words to Etude—these are more up-dated and will appeal to Harry Potter fans. One of my students learned the words at an institute, taught them to her younger brother, and the two of them sang them day and night for weeks!

Harry Potter Harry Potter had a special friend to play named
Ronald Weasly Ronald Weasly, and he brought along his quaffle
Harry Potter Harry Potter picked it up and threw it back to
Ronald Weasly Ronald Weasly, but it crashed right through the window

Dumbledore came down the stairs and called to Hagrid
Hagrid came right down the stairs and quickly picked up
Harry Potter Harry Potter, picked him up and said, “Bad boy!” and
Sent him back to class.

Jennifer said: Apr 15, 2008
Jennifer Moberg
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Dehbori Kabul, Afghanistan
71 posts

oh my gosh that harry potter one is fantastic!

i also like the lightly row version- how fun!

the original words to long long ago:

Tell me the tales that to me were so dear
Long long ago, long long ago
Sing me the songs I delighted to hear
Long long ago, long ago
Now you are come, all my grief is removed
Let me forget that so long you have roved
Let me believe that you loved as you loved
Long long ago, long ago.

Not totally relevant for little kids, but a very poignant verse that certainly makes the piece a bit more melancholy! I explained the words and have all my kids sing them before learning it; I think it helps them capture a different musical spirit than if they don’t know what it’s actually about.

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

www.ViolinsAndChinrest.com

Christine said: Apr 16, 2008
 Violin
22 posts

My book 4 and 5 kids still sing words to Allegro -

Popcorn, popcorn listen to the popcorn.
Popcorn, popcorn listen to it pop.

Popcorn, popcorn listen to the popcorn.
Popcorn, popcorn listen to it pop.

Melted butter, poured all over
Sprinkled with a bit of salt

Popcorn, popcorn listen to the popcorn.
Popcorn, popcorn listen to it pop.

Also (I think someone on this list posted these)

Did you know Allegro means to play fast? Notes with dots are short staccato notes!

Yes, I know Allegro means to play fast. Notes with dots are short staccato notes!

Dolce means to please “play sweetly”, ritardando means “slow down”…

Then a tempo means to “play the first speed”, so we end the way that we began!

Jennifer Visick said: Apr 17, 2008
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

I like that, except I always teach that Allegro means “cheerful” or “joyful” or “happy”—and only by extrapolation does that mean “fast”.

John Pennucci said: Nov 23, 2011
 1 posts

Allegro

Robot, Robot, I’m a little robot
R2 D2 He’s a robot too
Robot, Robot, I’m a little robot
R2 D2 He’s a robot too
I’m not human
Wish I were human
There’s a human girl I love
Robot, Robot, I’m a little robot
R2 D2 He’s a robot too

Tiffany Holliday said: Nov 23, 2011
Tiffany Holliday
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Eugene, OR
12 posts

Hahhahahahahah!!!!

Sent from my iPhone

Frederico Barreto Kochem said: Nov 24, 2011
Frederico Barreto KochemRecorder
Quitandinha Petropolis, RJ, Brazil
1 posts

HEhehehehe… I like Allegro Robot’s Version!

Jennifer Visick said: Nov 24, 2011
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

Has anyone mentioned “The New Pre-Twinkle Book” by Katherine Merrill & Jean Brandt? In addition to that and the words in Susan Kempter’s “Between parent & teacher”, I have in the back of my head that there’s also “Poole’s Poems”—which is, (I think?) where the Henrietta Poppoleta words come from…??

Natalie said: Nov 26, 2011
 2 posts

This is fantastic- thanks for posting!

Christina Morton said: Mar 11, 2012
Christina Morton
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Cello
5 posts

I’m looking for an online copy of “Poole’s Poems”. Anyone know?

Jennifer Visick said: Mar 12, 2012
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

I’ve never seen an online version. The page I have was given to me in my Violin book 1 training with Lorraine Fink, a while ago. It has words for Lightly row, Song of the Wind, Go Tell Aunt Rhody, Oh Come Little Children, May Song, Allegro, Allegretto, Andantino, and Etude.

There is a copyright notice at the bottom, so I’m not sure about typing them all out here!

André said: Mar 12, 2012
André AugensteinViolin, Piano
55 posts

Sorry,but this copy do not know,I know belong to the first Volume of
the Suzuki Method .
Greetings.
André Gomes Augenstein
Violin Teacher

Violin Student(International Suzuki Association) in Germany 1987
Violin teacher (International Suzuki Association) in Dublin 1995

Kathryn Pearson said: Mar 13, 2012
Kathryn Pearson
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
Vancouver, WA
2 posts

My son’s favorite tunes:

French Folk Song—Spiderman

Spiderman, Spiderman, climbing up walls
He’ll find the bad guys and he’ll make them fall.
Venom wears black and he has lots of TEEEETH,
Joker wears purple and likes to eat BEEEEF, (my 5-year-old made this up)
Spi-der-man is the best he-ro of all!

Allegretto (I draw the story with each child, they can color it in as they practice)

See the bear, with no hair, wearing pink underwear,
And the Goose with the Moose in a big red caboose
See the mice, eating rice, on the ice, oh how nice!
And the dog on the log, what a hog! (After reading Aesop’s fable of the dog & his reflection)
See the fish, ON THE DISH, we all wish HE’D GO SQUISH
And the Bird, that we heard, he’s a nerd, how absurd!
Back to the mice line…

Sue Hunt said: Mar 14, 2012
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
390 posts

Here are my words to French Folk Song, which I made up to introduce the relation of dynamics to the length of the bow stroke:

Start on the A string and use lots of bow.
You’ll make a sound with a very rich glow.
Quietly now as you move tippy toe,
Growing a little, ‘cause you want to show
How your big bows make the best sound you know.

I am looking for other ideas for words which help to focus a student on how to play a piece.Music in Practice

Celia Jones said: Mar 22, 2012
 Violin
72 posts

I use these words for popcorn, with a pre-school class (ages 2 and 3):

Popcorn popcorn popping popping popcorn
popcorn popcorn popping in the pan

Golden butter, yummy runny butter
Melting through the hot popcorn…

I make them popcorn so they could see it popping out of the pan, and poured melted butter into it so they could see the butter flowing, then they get to eat it. (Otherwise they would not know what we were singing about.) I have the kids jump around for the popcorn and sway gently for the butter. It is their favourite of all the songs.

And then we sing just using these sounds:

pop pop pop pop

oo-oo-oo-ooh, oo-oo-oo-ooh

This is not officially a Suzuki class, I just teach them for fun, and they love the songs so much. We have actions for all the songs, so we use Song of the Wind to teach pitch is higher or lower, and O Come Little Children to do loud and quiet, and so on.

Miranda Fedock said: May 12, 2012
Miranda FedockViolin, Viola
New York, NY
8 posts

You guys might know about these words for Allegro already but everyone uses them where I live now. I don’t know where they came from but the kids seems to love them!

Wake up shake up take off your pajamas
Eat your breakfast time to go to school
Wake up shake up take off your pajamas
Eat your breakfast time to go to school

I don’t want to I don’t want to
I just want to stay asleep

Wake up shake up take off your pajamas
Eat your breakfast time to go to school

Ginger Gordon said: Jun 11, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano, Cello
Teaneck, NJ
5 posts

Dear Miranda,

I believe I made up those words about 30 years ago and passed them on to Peter Lewy, Suzuki cello teacher, who was my son’s teacher, when he was less than three years old.

The middle section that I made up goes like this:

I don’t want to, I am tired,

Let me sleep a little more (fermata so act groggy)

It is a good way of differentiating between the two phrases.

Ginger Gordon

Miranda Fedock said: Jun 12, 2012
Miranda FedockViolin, Viola
New York, NY
8 posts

Thanks Ginger, I like those words for the middle section! Amazing how something that you came up with decades ago has now spread around the country and is constantly adapting to new locations and teachers!

Ginger Gordon said: Jun 12, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano, Cello
Teaneck, NJ
5 posts

Nice to hear from you. I think it amazing as well. It has a life of its own. Kids have a good time hamming it up.

Gwen McKeithen said: Jun 13, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Sonoma, CA
11 posts

FYI: When I was studying in Matsumoto from the end of 1982 to the middle of 1985, Dr. Suzuki asked us to not to sing words to the songs, especially the Twinkles. He said that it is more important to learn to hear the tone. He said that children who are singing do not learn to hear the tone. He asked us to tell other teachers when we went home.

Gwen McKeithen

Christopher Moehlenkamp said: Jun 14, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
Columbus, OH
1 posts

Hi! This is Nadine Moehlenkamp, violin, (not Chris, cello, but we share the same email address and I can’t figure out how to let the program know!) I’m interested in how other people feel about the use of words in teaching Suzuki instrumental music. I certainly know wonderful teachers who advocate steering away from words to songs and I understand the reasoning. But I feel that putting words to music on occasion in our instrumental classes can have value for several reasons. 1)words and rhythm work together. (Mississippi Hot Dog or “taka taka ta ka) Though we can feel rhythms by clapping, tapping and marching, we can also feel them by articulating them. Lyricists have always known that choosing particular words and phrases can allow rhythms to be more fully felt, understood and remembered by the listener. I’ve often found that repeating a particular word or phrase with emphasis on the desired syllable(s) can be another way of helping the advanced student fix an imperfectly executed rhythm. 2) In the same way, words, when chosen carefully, can support the understanding of desired articulation 3)The breathing and some phrasing that we want our instrumentalists to learn is natural in singing 4)Words can can help young students understand the underlying meaning of the music that contributes to our phrasing, style and our expression. I don’t teach words to Suzuki tunes to help students learn notes (my students have to listen to each piece 30 times before they begin work.) I, personally, only use words occasionally. But I think the example of the words to Allegro is great! Those words (the wake up shake up version and especially ending the second phrase with the word “more”) present articulation, phrasing, style, meaning and expression. Besides, they get the student’s attention, they’re fun, they encourage the student to practice and they make us laugh. What more can you want? Finally, since we believe that it is important to approach teaching from every possible angle and learning style, and to address individual student needs, is there truly a good reason to keep words to the songs totally out of the method? I think, when used carefully, in moderation and in conjunction with all our other tools, words can be yet another way to help the student reach the desired goal.
Any thoughts on this? Am I missing something? I know we all want to do our best and we certainly don’t want to do anything that could be damaging to a our students’ growth.

Cleo Ann Brimhall said: Jun 14, 2012
Cleo Ann BrimhallTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
West Jordan, UT
39 posts

To add to Gwen’s statement about Dr. Suzuki’s request—I have also studied with Dr. Kataoka for several years and she said the same thing. Words were a handicap to training the ear—which is paramount in Suzuki. Listening to the sound was the most important—not only for pitch recognition but to train the hear to the quality of the tone.

Cleo

Christiane said: Jun 14, 2012
Christiane Pors-Sadoff
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
New York, NY
47 posts

I agree with Dr. Suzuki!

I rarely use words to Suzuki pieces unless the child is just not getting the tune by listening (and then its usually because they’re not listening enough). If a child is not getting sequence, I play it for them in smaller and smaller bits, over and over. I try not to resort to visual or verbal aids. Although when I get desperate, I have here and there.

In my opinion, using words is another way for the students and parents to relate to the music in the way they are used to learning (verbally and visually). Its a crutch like fingering charts and using the book.

Music is its own language and can be absorbed by the ear (brain) by listening repeatedly.
The beauty of the Suzuki method is that we learn in a true musician’s way—by ear. It may take a bit longer to absorb the music, but once its in there, the muscles respond in a relaxed way to the content in the brain, and Voila!

Christiane Pors
Violinist
Mikomi Violin Studio
Kaufman Music Center
NYU Steinhardt

Celia Jones said: Jun 14, 2012
 Violin
72 posts

For me and for my daughter the words are essential. I’m intrigued and fascinated to know how other people remember tunes. If I don’t have words I have to have notes or something, there is no way for me to remember a tune by itself, I can’t find it to hear it. Like it’s lost in a bucket and I can’t grab hold of it. The word or the notes is the handle and I can then pull it out and listen.

With my daughter, she learned the first few songs that we had been singing in about six weeks. Then she got to Long long ago, which we never sang, and she struggled with it until we found some words that she liked. Allegro she loves, and played it straight off, out of her head. Perpetual Motion, which we don’t have words to, took nine agonising months and nearly wrecked her confidence. Allegretto we learned the words as Wooden Heart (with a few tweaks) and she had it in six weeks.

A funny thing, she always loved Twinkle theme, describing it as “beautiful” and playing it lovely legato. Then at school she learnt some funny words to Twinkle which she sings a bit staccato, and sometimes when she plays I can tell which words she is singing in her head. Importantly, the tone is lovely either way: lovely gorgeous legato or lovely funny juicy staccato—the violin becomes her voice.

Barb said: Jun 15, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Hmm. Well, they won’t be learning to hear the tone if they always sing along with the recording, or if they sing while they are playing. But my first instinct is to think like Nadine that this is one more tool…

Except for a few occasions, I’ve only used words for distinguishing Twinkle rhythms. I haven’t had any super young students—don’t know how much of that is a factor. I did send a brand new 5 year old student home one time with the assignment of learning to sing “Hot Crossed Buns” so that we could use it. Oh, I have also suggested that parents teach O Come Little Children words after they have learned to play it. We use the words I learned from Abigail McHugh’s video “Up long, short short …” to help us learn the bowing (off the instrument) before we start it.

I am guessing that the brain uses different pathways when learning a TUNE vs. learning words and melody together in a song. Probably there are some brains like Celia’s where the one way works better. But should we not try to develop the other? I would guess that if started young enough those pathways could be built without too much difficulty. But I think singing is an important part of musical education, too. (Not that we need to have words to our instrumental pieces, though.)

Before beginning a new piece, I have my students sing it using “La La La” just so I know they have listened to it and are familiar enough with it.

Probably the student who has used words the most is one of my adult beginner students who has difficulty with feeling and reading rhythm. The words help her remember the Happy Farmer dotted rhythm, at least… Minuet in C they didn’t help so much.

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Charlotte Dinwiddie said: Jun 15, 2012
Charlotte Dinwiddie
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Poughkeepsie, NY
10 posts

Generally, I don’t use words for songs. However I do have one student with many, many learning issues. At the suggestion of her speech therapist, we began using words to solidify learning the pitch and rhythm patterns. In her case, however, I have had to tailor the words to her needs. I cannot use different words for the same pitch pattern; a pitch pattern that is repeated MUST have the same word sequence. It means re-writing the words and often the results are not nearly as interesting or clever but it gets the job done.

Celia Jones said: Jun 15, 2012
 Violin
72 posts

Barb, the Suzuki principle of Every Child Can means that those who would be rejected by other music teachers as untalented or even “tone deaf” can learn to play. However, it often seems to me that a purist approach that rejects “crutches” of any kind allows elitism to creep in as those who progress slowly or stall become discouraged and quit, leaving only the most able. If words help, let’s use them without losing sight of the goal of listening to the tone.

Christina Morton said: Jun 15, 2012
Christina Morton
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Cello
5 posts

I have enjoyed the feedback from this question I posed after a workshop we had here in Virginia where I was having kids sing in an elective class and it was fun to do some words. We all know the words to Twinkle. Funny that Nadine who just responded was one of the clinicians at that workshop. (Hey Nadine!!). I only use words in teaching when I need something to help someone who is stuck. I have found them helpful and there are always those pieces that drive certain students (and their parents) crazy because they have so much trouble grabbing them, for whatever reason. Some of the reasons might be important for the students to find a way to work through but in some cases the student’s motivation level might need more of a boost than the patience to learn the piece is able to endure. For me, the words for Allegretto and Etude have been helpful as well as for Long Long Ago (the dinosaur words are lots of fun, especially for little boys) but after that I don’t use words at all and I do not use them for every student.
There are a lot of words out there and it looks like a fun exercise to use the Suzuki songs this way, but it can be overdone. Creativity is great, but we do not want to lose sight of learning the music as instrumentalists. We can be Suzuki singers if we want to be doing a lot of singing. Thank you all for your feedback on this subject. I never did find Poole’s Poems online—I just have a copy from an old journal that was published by “LearningOne” that was in Athens, Ohio.

Paula Bird said: Jun 15, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

It seems to me, that the comments are making assumptions that one way is being used to the exclusion of the other. I endeavor to approach my students from all directions all the time, and I use all different tools as well. We listen to songs, we sing songs, we sing songs with and without words, we close our eyes and play the rhythm by feel and listening, etc. In my experience, my best aural students were also students who participated in singing activities outside of the Suzuki lessons, such as church or school choirs.

I say, let’s make this one of the tools but not to the exclusion of other tools.

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com (blog)
http://teachsuzuki.com (podcast)

Christiane said: Jun 15, 2012
Christiane Pors-Sadoff
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
New York, NY
47 posts

Celia, I was just curious how much daily listening was done during your daughter’s period of trying to learn Perpetual Motion without words?

Christiane Pors
Violinist
Mikomi Violin Studio
Kaufman Music Center
NYU Steinhardt

Barb said: Jun 15, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Celia, I was just exploring a thought (or query) about brain development. What I was thinking was that maybe if we didn’t use words from the start a young child who might not be naturally wired that way might develop the wires and then have an easier time with different types of learning. I never learned to play by ear when I was young and this is a real difficulty for me now. I still try it sometimes, but I think if I had started when young and my brain was more plastic it would be easier. Of course if there is a difficulty I agree with you—not to be rejecting any truly needed helps. I did agree that it could be a tool if needed. One reason I love teaching is because every person learns differently and I enjoy learning how to best coax each blossom to bloom.

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Ginger Gordon said: Jun 15, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano, Cello
Teaneck, NJ
5 posts

Ginger asks:

Who has considered the difference between Suzuki String instruction and Suzuki Piano instruction. The learning involved in making music is sooo different. By the time the child is studying Cuckoo we are into melody with accompaniment. We need to hear two different things at once, playing two sounds at once and so forth. It is both easier and harder indifferent ways. Since I also play the cello I am very interested how teaching each instrument is different, even with respect to whether or not to use lyrics.

I appreciate the thoughtful responses I have been getting!

Sue Hunt said: Jun 16, 2012
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
390 posts

Perhaps we need to have a comment from a Suzuki Voice teacher. My students love singing and those who can’t soon learn.

I think it was the Elizabethan composer William Byrd who said,
“Since singing is so good a thing,
I wish all men would learn to sing.”

Celia Jones said: Jun 16, 2012
 Violin
72 posts

Christiane, we have listened to the Suzuki Book One CD almost every day, sometimes twice a day, since my daughter was 3 years old, when she started learning. By the time she got to Perpetual Motion, she had heard the tune over 500 times—and a further couple of hundred by the time she had got it. Are we listening wrong? There is a little girl who has a lesson before us who learns a tune every week. I’m intrigued to know how she does it.

Cleo Ann Brimhall said: Jun 16, 2012
Cleo Ann BrimhallTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
West Jordan, UT
39 posts

Singing is an important part of learning the musicality of the phrase, of breathing, of shape. My experience has been that children love to sing solfeg (do re mi) if introduced in the beginning with a fixed do. In piano you also sing the accompaniment do sol me sol etc.
Caroline Fraser has wonderful writings and experience with using solfeg. Words to the songs are a fun treat and game thing AFTER the piece is learned. Singing is definitely important (as is moving to the music) but not as a tool to replace the ear.

Cleo

Ginger Gordon said: Jun 16, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano, Cello
Teaneck, NJ
5 posts

Another way to look at it—

The voice is our first instrument—singing is a small window into how we hear. A child who does not sing in tune has a lot of listening to do. Also tuning, if this child is a string player. What if the child is beginning on the piano. The piano can hide the fact that a child cannot really differentiate pitch—singing is most revealing that way. It has its place.

Ginger Gordon said: Jun 16, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano, Cello
Teaneck, NJ
5 posts

Suzuki voice is new to me— but makes a lot of sense. How challenging to come up with a suitable repertoire! I am not the only one to regard the voice as the first instrument so I am all for singing— it can reveal what the ear hears and can help improve upon it.

Wendy Caron Zohar said: Jun 16, 2012
Wendy Caron Zohar
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Ann Arbor, MI
94 posts

I agree that singing is the key to all musicality. It starts with parents when a baby is born, as he listens to his mother and father talking and singing to him and to each other. When singing starts that early, melody and pitch are implanted in a child’s mind, ear and heart. Then it is natural to recreate it on an instrument, so long as a child is ready neurologically. Singing can continue to enrich us for all our years! What a gift to give a child!

Learning melodies by memory therefore is an activity that comes as naturally as learning to speak. Words shouldn’t be relied on as crutches in learning a tune, but as an enjoyable game after the tune is learned.

I tend to sing the solfege (using movable, functional doh), right from the start when beginning with a child. At first we sing a simple doh-re tune that uses only two notes. The open string is doh, first finger is re. I don’t sing solfege for Twinkle, not at first (that comes later). And we sing the original words to the Twinkle theme. I use other tools (than Suz. materials) to teach and sing solfege and my students learn it easily. It’s a great mental organizer of music. Get those brains trained early! I highly recommend it!

Wendy Caron Zohar

Christiane said: Jun 17, 2012
Christiane Pors-Sadoff
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
New York, NY
47 posts

Celia,
It’s just possible that the Suzuki CD just became a sort of wallpaper or a general backdrop for your daughter, and she may have needed more of other types of listening, like slow, repeated listening of smaller sections of the music, played just by the violin itself without the piano accompaniment. Maybe her brain just missed the details as the music flew by?

Christiane Pors
Violinist
Mikomi Violin Studio
Kaufman Music Center
NYU Steinhardt

Christiane said: Jun 17, 2012
Christiane Pors-Sadoff
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
New York, NY
47 posts

Has anyone encountered students that cannot sing a simple melody in tune, yet can (with effort) play even advanced pieces quite well in tune? I’ve had several.

Christiane Pors
Violinist
Mikomi Violin Studio
Kaufman Music Center
NYU Steinhardt

Celia Jones said: Jun 17, 2012
 Violin
72 posts

Christiane, Yes, I do think that is part of the explanation, that my daughter is no longer paying attention to the music. This thread made me re-examine the way we learn new pieces. My daughter is very spirited and generally finds all the notes herself. When she is learning the tune to a song she will sing it to check the tune. She finds many melodies just for fun, not only the Suzuki tunes but all sorts of songs that she knows. But if I sit down and say “listen, then copy, then stop”, and play a short phrase, she finds it really hard to direct her attention.

I should say she is only just turned five, and directing attention is still in development at this age. To some extent, learning to listen is all about directing attention.

Is there any research that compares the results of children who learned pieces they knew words to with those who learned pieces they didn’t know words for?

Christina Morton said: Jun 17, 2012
Christina Morton
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Cello
5 posts

I don’t know of any research, but from my experience scale passages are easier to figure out aurally because they fit a pattern that is easily recognizable but Allegretto has so many skips that until the ear and the finger have a really close association, those intervals are harder to find. i think teaching note patterns is really helpful so the ear and the finger recognize the patterns and then the student can use that recognition when they occur in the pieces. Even though we want students to listen and copy, we also want them to be able to organize the patterns for themselves. I think teaching independence in learning is important and the more you can make that part of the process the faster tunes come in the end.
A lot of tunes are good for fun but Suzuki tunes should be in a different category because they teach specific skills, not just one note after the next.
This is a great discussion. I am really enjoying this. I taught both of my own children who are 21 and 22. Suzuki training helped them in ways I cannot begin to tell you.

Wendy Teller-Elsberg said: Oct 13, 2012
 1 posts

I am always wary of rigidity in didactic theory; in my experience as a mother, a teacher, and a speech-language pathologist, it is human nature to create rules which then need to be bent or broken according to the individual needs, goals and learning styles of each student. For myself, words have been instrumental (ha ha!) not only in my and my 5-year-old daughter’s learning of the Suzuki tunes, but also as a source of tremendous enjoyment and enhancement of the violin experience. I come from a singing family, and since my children were in utero I have always sung to them and then with them. When my daughter started violin at age 3-1/2, it was perfectly natural for us to start singing “Twinkle, Twinkle” everywhere we went. The singing of it meant that we reviewed the melody, the rhythm, the phrasing and the emotionality dozens of times each day, even when the violin was not available. When the next song came along, there was no question that I wanted to have lyrics to put to it, so I wrote some—and had a delightful time doing so! The song was “Lightly Row,” and I asked around and looked for lyrics to it, but then adapted what I found to my own sense of the linguistic level of my daughter and the phrasing and feeling of the song. I began singing with my daughter,

Lightly row,
Lightly row,
Lilting on the waves below

Lightly rowing
Lightly rowing
Low and high my oars will go

Let the winds and waters be
Mingled with my melody

Lightly rowing
Lightly rowing
Low and high my oars will go

I did not write the words of the bridge; I found them and loved them, so I used them. In choosing words, I made an effort to give identically played melodies identical words, when possible. I proceeded as my daughter progressed through Book 1 to write words to each song in advance of her learning it on the violin, so we could sing it together many times (not to the exclusion of listening to the CD many times, but in addition) and so that in many cases the words could give her cues as to the fingering.* I don’t consider this a ‘crutch’—a word that has a negative connotation—but as a strategy, a learning tool, and most importantly, a delight. Why do we make music if not for joy? She loves to sing the songs as much as she loves to play them, and if she loves what she is doing, I feel that we are succeeding.

*An example of how I used lyrics to cue violin or bow movements can be found in the lyrics I wrote to Perpetual Motion, the first song in Book 1 to use the pinky finger. In my words, the first syllable of the word “pinky” always corresponds to a note played with the pinky. When the word “pinky” is not heard, the same note is played on an open string. Here they are:

Who’s that rhyming while she’s climbing?
Mrs. Pinky, how’s your timing?

Who’s that rhyming while she’s climbing?
Mrs. Pinky, how’s your timing.

Down the mountain, to a fountain,
Take a dip and keep on countin’.

Down the mountain, to a fountain,
Take a dip and keep on countin’.

Up, down, hop, hop.
Up, down, hop, hop.
Pinky climbs up to the top, top.

Up, down, hop, hop.
Up, down, hop, hop.
Pinky climbs up to the top, top.

Who’s that rhyming while she’s climbing?
Mrs. Pinky, how’s your timing?

Who’s that rhyming while she’s climbing?
Mrs. Pinky, how’s your timing.

Corrina Barrett said: Nov 10, 2013
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Spokane, WA
1 posts

Hello Wendy,
I also like to use moveable doh at the beginning, and I would like to do more of it. I think it is a wonderful way to help children understand what they are hearing. They also learn the actual structure of music for future improvisation or composing. Do you have any specific resources that you use for teaching solfege? I began with my son learning solfege a few years ago, but we haven’t been using it for a while now. He surprised me the other day, as he was working on reading a piece of music. I asked him “What note is this?” He is quite familiar with the letter names, but his immediate response was: “oh, it’s a so”.

Phankao said: Nov 11, 2013
Phankao WanPiano, Viola, Violin
128 posts

After reading all the lyrics I found online last time, I adapted the Popcorn one for Allegro. I like them as simple as possible(because mine was a 3yo only then), and to relate to the dynamics of the piece as far as possible.

So my version became:

Pop-ping Popcorn, Popping in the Big Pot
Pop-ping Popcorn, Can you hear it Pop?
(2X)—(matches the staccato feel)

Melting Butter, With some Honey, Sloooow-ly slooow-ly leeeet it driiip (slow down) Pause.

Pop-ping Popcorn, Popping in the Big Pot
Pop-ping Popcorn, Can you hear it Pop?
(2X)

Deirdre Motherway said: Nov 12, 2013
Deirdre MotherwaySuzuki in the Schools, Violin
5 posts

My little boy started when he was 3. No words for the first year and a half and progress was slow but steady and his technique was great. Then we switched to using words and he couldn’t get enough of them. It’s like it all made sense to him. We still listen to the CD non stop, he’s constantly humming the tunes, even when he doesn’t realise it. We’re moving on to Happy Farmer now, he’s definitely moving more towards using his ear solely now but we still throw in a word with a bit he’s struggling with.
I would absolutely recommend using words for a pre-school child but gradually ween them away from them as they progress through the second year of school. And just hum or ‘la la’ the tune when learning instead.
Another trick I use when he’s figuring out a tune for the first time is to hold up my fingers to tell him what note to play, (only when we’re working on small chunks of a new song). I make a fist for an open string. I’ll do this for the section we’re working on to give him some confidence, maybe 3/4 times. Then I’ll ask him to do it by himself.

He learned Allegro when he was 4 and was crazy about the cartoon Ben10, so here are our words for that:

Here comes Ben10 driving his cool sports car, chasing Vilgax through the universe
Here comes Ben10 driving his cool sports car, chasing Vilgax through the universe
Where is Ke-vin, Where is Gw-en, Where is Grandpa Max toooo-day…..
Here comes Ben10 driving his cool sports car, chasing Vilgax through the universe

When ever you practise, try making it a really fun part of the day, toys, props, funny words—what ever it takes with small kids. I learnt this the hard way.

Phankao said: Nov 17, 2013
Phankao WanPiano, Viola, Violin
128 posts

Well, we had the Ferraris & Lamborghini, Porsche, etc all in our Lyrics! ;D

Lauren said: Nov 18, 2013
Lauren Lamont
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Edmonds, WA
33 posts

Wow, what a great discussion and comments! I do tend to use words, particularly in keeping with the “Fun” part of learning and practicing.
Hey There Mouse, is my favorite Lightly Row words:
(taken from—I forget the name of the little book—I’ve had it for years)
Hey there mouse, in your house
better stay inside your house

Hey there mousie in your housie,
Someone’s waiting just for you

Pretty kitty loves you so
Thinks you’re just so tasty Oh!

Hey there mousie in your housie
someone’s waiting just for you
(I assure them the mouse just barely escapes the cat’s mouth and they keep playing the game!)

Susan Hallinan said: Dec 11, 2013
 
Suzuki Association Member
1 posts

Hello, I am looking for lyrics to Brahms Waltz in Suzuki Book 2. In particular, I am hoping for something that will help students sort out the different endings and transitions.
Thanks!

Sue Hunt said: Dec 12, 2013
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
390 posts

Singing is great, but I prefer not to use it for whole songs after Etude in bk 1. However, there’s absolutely no substitute for listening:
1 Study listening following the music with a finger on the score. Highlight the endings in different colours.
2 Listening while doing the fingering/bowing at each highlighted passage.
3 Listening and doing something specific for each passage like sitting for one turning to the right for the next etc. Your choreography will help to set the sequence of endings.

Anne Brennand said: Dec 13, 2013
Anne Brennand
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
Boulder, CO
37 posts

Hi all. Words, no words, it doesn’t matter; it’s that ability to sing, even if out of tune, the music to be played, that is the key to the ability to play the given material! —Anne

Anne Brennand, cellist and cello teacher

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