Listening problems


Sara said: Dec 29, 2009
191 posts

Hi out there! Do any of you have any great ideas on how to get parents to understand the importance and idea of listening?
I tell them all at the very first meeting, at the first lesson, and remind at each lesson, but somehow it is getting missed and week after week I am hearing excuses that they lost the CD, the player broke, the forgot, etc. I have heard it all. What can I do to get them to see the vision of it? I just feel like if they really and truly understood the value of listening, they would make it a greater priority. Some of them “get it” and do it, but a few I tell and tell and they just don’t “get it”.

Thanks in advance for your ideas/suggestions.

“What is man’s ultimate direction in life? It is to look for love, truth, virtue, and beauty.” Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

Laura said: Dec 29, 2009
Suzuki Association Member
358 posts

Be very blunt. (As diplomatically as possible, of course :) )
Sometimes people only “get it” after very direct language is used.

Some phrases I have used in the past, both spoken and written, are:

  • Without listening, there is no Suzuki method. If you expect Suzuki, there must be a large listening component. If you don’t listen, the student has nothing to go with and they will NOT learn unless I begin teaching them how to read music. This, of course, is not Suzuki—but please let me know if this is what you prefer and I will advise you accordingly (switch teaching approaches, change to another teacher, etc.).

  • Listening accounts for between 50-75% of the learning process at least until Book 2 or age 9, whichever comes first. (Just a rough estimate on my part—I’m sure the numbers can vary.) But in general, the earlier the learning stage, the more the learning curve is directly impacted by listening.

  • I notice that your son/daughter’s learning experience seems pretty tortuous right now. That is because he/she has no point of reference regarding this music—he/she is learning in the dark. This would all change once the CD is played more regularly.

  • Imagine expecting him/her to learn how to speak if you never spoke at home.

Charts also help—give them out with the expectation that they will be filled in (how many days of listening in a row, etc.) with some sort of reward system.

Unfortunately, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. Good luck though!

Jennifer Visick said: Dec 30, 2009
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

occasionally I will make the student listen for the full lesson if they truly don’t seem to get it.

In other words, “if you don’t do your listening homework at home, then it happens at the lesson”. Which means that there isn’t any teaching from you, EXCEPT teaching how to listen.

And so I teach what to listen for, I teach how to tally the listening, I teach how to find alternate recordings of the same song, I teach listening with eyes closed, with a towel or blanket over the head for the youngest ones who can’t keep their eyes closed for a whole song, with eyes open, with eyes on the music, with fingers tapping along, with air bowing, with dancing, while lying down, while swaying back and forth, while conducting to the beat, while listening for dynamics, for articulations, while singing note names, while tapping the rhythms, while listening for accompaniment lines only, while listening for mood or character or emotion, while making up a “scene” as if this were movie music, I teach listening while watching the performer (video or live) for good posture, etc., I teach listening for the form of the piece (sometimes having the student move to different parts of the room when each section of the piece changes), I teach listening for pitch (every time you hear note X, hop once on your right foot, or something), I teach background listening,

I teach how to use earphones, and sometimes I teach how to program a cd player to repeat 1 or to repeat a certain group of tracks,

I assign listening to the radio for texture & timbre & “period” sounds, I assign them to check out certain cds from the local library and bring them to the next lesson and ‘review’ them for me;

sometimes I even forbid practicing on the instrument for a week and have the student only play for classes & lessons and use the normal “practice” time for listening assignments only.

said: Dec 30, 2009
 89 posts

RaineJen, I wish I’d seen your Listening 101 post years ago! That one’s going in the keeper file right now.

One of my college age kids is learning a fairly high level concerto right now—hasn’t had a chance to pick up the instrument and work through the notes of the second and third movements until recently, but has been listening to various recordings … and lo and behold! It’s falling into place like magic. Maybe if the OP mentions stories like this to the parents, they’ll begin to realize that it’s not just “baby stuff.”

Sara said: Jan 4, 2010
191 posts

Wow! Thanks all of you for your excellent thoughts on the matter. I wish I would have posted this question sooner! Very good ideas. Thank you!

“What is man’s ultimate direction in life? It is to look for love, truth, virtue, and beauty.” Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

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