Completing Book 1

Tags: ,

Lindsay said: Oct 21, 2008
Lindsay LogsdonViolin
55 posts

Just out of curiosity, how long does it typically take you to bring a student to the end of Book One?

Right now, I have students who have completed the book in one year, two years, and three years—I find there is great variability in how long it takes them based on their ages.

Lindsay—Violin teacher, homeschooling mama of four, small-time publisher
http://www.essextalentacademy.com
http://www.talentpress.net

Laura said: Oct 21, 2008
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
358 posts

lindsay

Right now, I have students who have completed the book in one year, two years, and three years—I find there is great variability in how long it takes them based on their ages.

I think you just answered your own question, Lindsay :)

In addition to differences in age and maturity, I would also throw in the amount and quality of practice, the amount of parental support, and the fullness of the musical home environment as direct factors that affect the rate of progress.

I can also think of some indirect factors that affect the rate of progress, and in some cases may actually appear to slow it down (but not necessarily in a bad way). These include:

  1. The degree to which a student learns by reading the musical score (e.g. for an older student) vs. purely by rote and by ear (which is entirely possible for a very young child in Book 1)

  2. The degree to which the teacher and/or parent spend time on developing good technique, tone, musicality, and ear training, particularly with the regular use of review pieces. For example, I have seen examples of students getting through a book very quickly, with very little attention having been paid to how any of it was played. I have also seen examples of the exact opposite, when more time was taken in establishing the fundamentals—so while it may seem like that student is taking longer, he or she is actually becoming a better player in the process.

Perhaps this is more than you were looking for in an answer :) But I hope it provides a little more insight as to why it’s such a hard question to answer easily!

Jennifer Visick said: Oct 24, 2008
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

with lots of disclaimers (this is very generalized, no student will match a statistic exactly, no student is “average”, times vary with age, emotional maturity, interest, parental support, your milage may vary, young beginners should probably not be encouraged to practice in the traditional sense for 2 hours straight, “Practice” in the Suzuki community includes listening time and review time, the percentage of listening practice to physical practice with the instrument is different for a beginner than it is for a more advanced student, etc, etc, and everything as stated in the post above….)

A teacher where I work gave me a chart that one of her students brought home from a summer suzuki institute in Hawaii, that indicated, roughly —

Daily Practice: 2 hours (two books per year)
Daily Practice: 1/2 to 1 hour (one book per year)
Daily Practice: 15-20 minutes: (two years per book)
Two or Three Practices per Week of 15-20 minutes (four years per book)

It has proven to be pretty accurate in my own studio.

p.s. if you want to print the attachment and are having trouble getting it to look right, try the .pdfs that are attached to a later post in this thread

Attachment: effect_of_Practice_bookchart_copy.doc

Lindsay said: Oct 25, 2008
Lindsay LogsdonViolin
55 posts

Thanks for that, RaineJen! I have a couple of students I’m feeling very frustrated with—each of them plays very well, but neither puts in enough practice time and they are moving along so slowly. It is obvious that if they would practice more, they’d be excellent violinists, and it’s hard to watch them waste their potential.

I like your disclaimers :D

Lindsay—Violin teacher, homeschooling mama of four, small-time publisher
http://www.essextalentacademy.com
http://www.talentpress.net

Jennifer said: Oct 26, 2008
Jennifer Moberg
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Dehbori Kabul, Afghanistan
71 posts

i was at the hawaii institute— the trainer was linda fiore, who is a master among masters!
my main issue is helping those extremely busy families/kids make the necessary time to actually practice….

RaineJen

with lots of disclaimers (this is very generalized, no student will match a statistic exactly, no student is “average”, times vary with age, emotional maturity, interest, parental support, your milage may vary, young beginners should probably not be encouraged to practice in the traditional sense for 2 hours straight, “Practice” in the Suzuki community includes listening time and review time, the percentage of listening practice to physical practice with the instrument is different for a beginner than it is for a more advanced student, etc, etc, and everything as stated in the post above….)

A teacher where I work gave me a chart that one of her students brought home from a summer suzuki institute in Hawaii, that indicated, roughly —

Daily Practice: 2 hours (two books per year)
Daily Practice: 1/2 to 1 hour (one book per year)
Daily Practice: 15-20 minutes: (two years per book)
Two or Three Practices per Week of 15-20 minutes (four years per book)

It has proven to be pretty accurate in my own studio.

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

www.ViolinsAndChinrest.com

said: Oct 27, 2008
 63 posts

I usually tell my parents who are starting that each book takes about 1,000 hours to complete, which approximately falls in with the Hawaii chart given above. When I see the “whoa, wow…” look as they absorb this information, I let them know that it includes listening time. So they decide… at the piano for 1,000 hours, or listening for 1-2 hours/day with a shorter practice time….. ;-)

said: Oct 28, 2008
 1 posts

Sometimes the busy families are the ones who practice the most consistently. They are good at time management.

said: Oct 30, 2008
 48 posts

brenda

I usually tell my parents who are starting that each book takes about 1,000 hours to complete, which approximately falls in with the Hawaii chart given above.

Unless I’m misreading something, the chart seems to suggest an average of 180—360 hours per book. Of course, aside from the student-to-student differences, the averages might differ for strings vs piano.

Laura said: Oct 30, 2008
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
358 posts

I agree with you, Lisa… but only to a degree. :) I think it depends on how one defines “busy”.

Learning an instrument requires a high commitment to regular practice. There are many families who realize this, and make it a point to prioritze it accordingly and factor it into their busy schedules. Suzuki families take this a step further, and also factor in the parental availability.

Then, there are other families for whom music lessons are one of many enriching and engaging activities that they slot their kids into, with little more involvement than signing them up and chauffering them around. (I’m making a rather simplistic comparison here, I realize—but hopefully the point is clear enough.) Of course, it’s soon discovered that regular practice is required, with a certain degree of parental input (ranging from simple nagging to active home teaching) and being at home for sufficient amounts of time. That can throw a serious curve ball into things, and it’s usually the music lessons that suffer.

Quite simply put, not all parents realize that learning an instrument has closer parallels to language learnng (and everything that it entails) than to other kids’ activities such as gymboree, swimming, soccer, or ballet. Right from the beginning level, the amount of time required BETWEEN lessons is huge. Teachers need to be aware of this and communicate it acordingly BEFORE accepting new students, so that everyone knows exactly what they are getting into before they start spending the money. As much as I wholeheartedly endorse the Suzuki approach (I’m both a participant and a product of it), I also believe that we must also be willing to adjust our expectations per child, even to the point of teaching non-Suzuki (or at least knowing when to steer a family away from it) when necessary.

I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault; it’s simply a reality. Not all famlies can provide whatever is required for a “successful Suzuki life” in this day and culture. Even with the best of intentions, even long commutes and having two working parents are enough to create some serious limitations.

On the other hand, it’s often a concious choice. Many families know exactly that Suzuki is about, decide that they want it, and make it happen no matter what, with excellent results. I have seen this even with two-parent-working famlies, or even single-parent families.

There is a point to something that ddm (David) mentioned a while back, in that it can sometimes be better to wait until a child is older, decides for him/herself to take up an instrument, and has a sufficient degree of maturity and volition to learn rather independently. He is right, in many cases. However, this brings us back to the whole discussion about differences in philosophy. Someone who chooses “hard-core Suzuki” (in the positive sense, i mean—not the situations in which Suzuki is poorly applied—but that was another discussion) does so with a huge sense of foresight and personal investment, wanting to create something that simply isn’t going to be an option now because it will only benefit the child, even if he/she doesn’t realize it until later. The child may choose otherwise for himself in the future, but that is many years down the road and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. This compares very closely to similar choices such as deciding to raise a child bilingually, or within a certain faith. Such an approach results in beginning a child very young, age 2-4, on a 1/32 size violin, regardless of whether or not they appear “gifted” or “interested” in it. Because according to “hard core” Suzuki philosophy, they WILL develop ability and WILL be interested, if the adults create the proper environment and support for the child. And this goes for every child, in theory.

The “wait until they are older and will do it by themselves” approach—or even the “try them out and if they’re any good they will continue” approach—restrict musical education to those with a natural interest and aptitude. Which is fine. That’s what’s always been done. But it’s not what Dr. Suzuki was talking about when he established the idea that “every child can”—i.e. learn their mother tongue successfully, or learn an instrument successfully. It was all the same to him, in terms of what children are capable of, and very highly so. And that was the “new message” that he was trying to get out there—that it’s entirely possible to have a world full of children ALL of whom happily realize their high potential to learn and do things, and grow up with good character qualities, if they are given a chance to do so with sufficient loving investment by the adults in their lives. Such children will grow up to have only positive impact in the world. Sure, it’s an ideal and can’t always be a reality. But there is nothing wrong with ideals—they can be great motivators. And considering a lot of what we read in today’s news headlines, we might all be better off to grant a litlte more weight to Dr. Suzuki’s thinking.

So it boils down to personal choice regarding whether, why, when and how a child will take on a musical instrument. If Suzuki is chosen, the factors that lead to making it work are very clear. Whether or not these factors (e.g. high parental involvement at an early age, commitment to regular listening and practice, just to name a few obvious ones) can be achieved is a matter of individual desire and circumstance.

And to bring this back on topic, to summarize: if everything is in place, Book One can be completed relatively quickly. :) Many young children in my child’s school seem to have done it within 1 to 1.5 years, even if they are not “naturally musical”. There appear to be quite a few 6-8 year olds in Books 2 and 3. This doesn’t take into account those who only began at age 6-8, of course. Among my students, younger siblings tend to progress even more quickly—a fact which points even more clearly to the power of the environment.

Jennifer Visick said: Oct 30, 2008
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

purple_tulips

Among my students, younger siblings tend to progress even more quickly—a fact which points even more clearly to the power of the environment.

If I were researching the rate at which Suzuki students the world over complete book 1, I would hypothesize that the younger siblings who take up Suzuki style training after their older siblings would progress so much more quickly that they need to be treated as a different category than the first Suzuki trained child in any given family. They get the Suzuki home environment before beginning formal lessons, sometimes being “born into” it—whereas the first child likely did not get into it until two or three years after birth.

Lindsay said: Nov 2, 2008
Lindsay LogsdonViolin
55 posts

Wow, it seems my thread has sparked a pretty interesting discussion :D

purple_tulips, what a great reply! Of course we have all had students from both categories—the ones who make it work, and the ones who put in minimal time and effort and don’t get the results they are hoping for. I think this is where parent education becomes paramount; if the parents “get it”, they are much more likely to make it happen. (Then there are the parents who never “get it”, no matter how often you speak to them, no matter how many articles you give them to read, no matter how much you encourage them to put the CD on daily and make practice a regularly-scheduled part of the day-to-day life.) This year in my studio, I am offering free parent education classes every few months. Many of this year’s new parents are absolutely excellent, taking seriously everything I’ve said and are already seeing the results in their children’s abilities. But then there are parents, both new and returning, who have let things slip and could use a refresher on Suzuki philosophy and application. I guess the struggle is to convince them that attending the parent education classes would be in their best interest, even if their week is already looking busy.

Lindsay—Violin teacher, homeschooling mama of four, small-time publisher
http://www.essextalentacademy.com
http://www.talentpress.net

said: Nov 6, 2008
 63 posts

Getting parents to “get it”—that’s really where all of the time goes! I’m re-reading To Learn with Love and this was Suzuki’s own challenge, and I think it always will be.

This year I’m trying a suggestion out in my studio and giving a subscription to the SAA to all of my families. They all will be getting the Suzuki Journal. Hopefully that will help. My trainer said that it helps parents realize that they are part of a much bigger world than my own home studio.

Jennifer Visick said: Nov 15, 2008
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

Apparently the chart I posted previously doesn’t print properly in .doc format. Someone requested it as a .pdf, so here is the same chart as a .pdf in both its original form and a second (color) chart which may print out clearer if the first doesn’t work.

Attachment: effect_of_Practice_bookchart.pdf

Grace said: Nov 15, 2008
 Violin
110 posts

Thank you! Those work great. Can’t wait to show this to my studio… ;-)

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