Pairing up advanced students


said: Sep 15, 2010
 63 posts

I have a transfer family that took Suzuki, but did not participate in the tradition of being paired with another family for lessons. And, unfortunately, they do not see any benefit in being with students who are below their level. Unfortunately, I have a fairly new studio and they will be almost the most advanced level students (in only book 3).

I often have a difficult time explaining how both students and parents can benefit from the subtle things that spur them on to practice; a different style, a camraderie, and sometimes (if they’re lucky), someone more ambitious than they are (e.g. a “fire in the basement”).

Does anyone have any suggestions, or, more preferably, can point me to an article that helps with this?

Ruth Brons said: Sep 15, 2010
Ruth Brons
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Livingston, NJ
148 posts

When I teach masterclasses at a Suzuki Institute I make it a point to involve the students —and parents —in each other’s lessons, whether counting repetitions, policing technique, re-telling music history stories, remembering teaching points or rules, awarding praise, joining in on common exercises, etc. As long as they are engaged in observing, occasionally called into action, the lesson will be enjoyed by all.

Years ago, when starting a Suzuki violin program from scratch with just two, then four students I believe I did what you are doing, like mini masterclasses. But as soon as I had enough for a regular group classes, I moved to half-hour private lessons—mostly to fit more students into my available time.

said: Sep 15, 2010
 63 posts

Hmm, that sounds interesting—I just assumed that most Suzuki teachers had lesson partnerships, in addition to masterclasses. In the past, I’ve found that playing in front of other students weekly was a tremendous benefit to all of my students as far as confidence goes. Plus I only have a monthly masterclass, instead of a weekly one.

I do try to engage students and parents in each other’s lesson, but it sound like it would be more fun to do even more, thanks for the ideas!

I currently have one Mom pleading with me to be re-partnered with someone (more advanced). They went through a year by themselves due to scheduling and their progress definitely slowed. So being with someone more advanced is an obvious benefit if you’re the less-advanced one.

Any other thoughts on pairing partnerships? I do try to pair them if they are relatively close in level.

Barb said: Sep 21, 2010
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
678 posts

I am not Suzuki trained, and hadn’t heard of this kind of pairing in lessons before! I can see some benefits.

Would it work to overlap lessons part-time? So perhaps if the lessons are 30 minutes long the first 15 minutes might be private, then the other student/parent arrives and there are 15 minutes together, then the first student/parent leave? Or, the first 15 minutes paired with one student (perhaps a less advanced student), and then they leave and a different (more advanced?) student arrives. Sounds like a lot of coming and going… but a thought.

If I were pairing for the entire lesson, if schedules allowed it, I might try to change pairs half-way through the year.

Perhaps using the more advanced student to help teach the other student (demonstrations) would be an advantage to them—we all know we learn best by teaching, don’t we? :) I was a helper in the fourth grade beginner violin class in our school program when I was in fifth grade—made me feel pretty good to be able to help keep the wrists down, etc. Or the more advanced one might learn the harmony parts to play along? I enjoyed doing that, too.

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said: Sep 22, 2010
 63 posts

Thanks Barb, that’s basically what I currently do; it’s just difficult explaining the advantage of pairing with younger students which are not so obvious.

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