Some structure to our practices

said: Jul 10, 2007
 13 posts

I’d just like to share something that has given a little more structure and focus to our practices.

My son is four years old, during our first year my focus for practices has just been that it happens every day. He has chosen what to play, often he just plays a little on each string and sings one of his favorite songs.

Recently I introduced a list of things to practice. They all involve the first Twinkle rhythm, I felt he was ready for it now. I was thinking of using a dice to select which one to practice first, but my son mostly wants to do them in order.

The points on our list are:
1. The bow (bow the rhythm in the air)
2. Water break
3. The violin (pick it up, and try to hold it with only the chin)
4. Play the rhythm on the A-string
5. Cookie break
6. Play the rhythm on the E-string
7. Play the rhythm on the D-string

Recently we also added:
8. Clap the rhythm
9. Pretend the bow is a match and pretend we light a candle with it.

I let my son select how many times we practice each thing—it seems 11 is a favorite number right now, but sometimes he chooses 1 or 3 or 8 :D

We don’t always follow this exactly, but it has really improved the quality of our practices. We (I) now more see the goal, and my son knows what to expect. He likes to do the same thing every day.

said: Sep 30, 2008
 36 posts

This is madness. What is the kid learning? Very little.

Jennifer Visick said: Oct 1, 2008
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
997 posts

keep in mind that this list applies to a four year old beginner. These sound like they could be appropriate, attainable goals for a beginner of that age. The skills that can be learned from these things include rhythmic training, healthy posture, endurance training, control of the bow, a good basic bow hold, strengthening of right hand fingers, establishing a daily practice habit, learning to take appropriate breaks during the daily practice time, a disciplined work ethic, etc. This is a good foundation for lifelong study.

Laura said: Oct 1, 2008
Suzuki Association Member
358 posts

I should also add that this same kid might very well be playing Vivaldi concerti by the time he is eight. Don’t underestimate the exponential learning curve of a young beginner. It starts off as “baby talk” but quickly escalates to a lot of learning.

My child spent 6 months on Twinkles at age 3, building a very solid foundation of—well, everything that RaineJen said. Affer that, everything took off, and that foundation allowed learning almost a new piece every 1-2 weeks after that. Although this is a personal experience, please don’t regard it as “bragging”—I only mean to illustrate how things can be, and I would hardly call my child a prodigy. I certainly know many other children whose situation is entirely similar. It doesn’t have to happen like that—children learn at difference paces. But Suzuki philosophy both acknowledges and facilitates this. Whatever the pace happens to be, they are supposed to be able to learn, learn it well, and have something to speak of that builds their confidence in themselves and their love of music.

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