How long in the pre-twinkle stage?

said: Sep 13, 2007
 1 posts

My 6 year old daughter has been taking lessons for 2 years. She is still working on the open strings for the pre-twinkle variations. What is the “normal” time period for these pre-twinkle days? She can play all the variations and has for some time, but if she loses count or has a crooked bow in any part of a variation, we’re given the same assignment for the next week. My older child started lessons in a different city and was done with book 1 by this time. Practices are getting to be miserable because she’s frustrated and bored.

Lynn said: Sep 14, 2007
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
173 posts

Have you spoken with her teacher, and what does the teacher say?
What exactly does your daughter need to do to show her teacher she is ready to move to the next level? What continues or will continue to hold her back? It is reasonable to ask your teacher for precise points so you and your daughter both know why she isn’t advancing and what she needs to accomplish.

A year to 18 months in the pre-Twinkle phase for a 4 year old beginner is not unusual, and it is also quite common to continue to revisit or review “pre-twinkle” material long after a student moves on. Bodies change, minds develop, awareness expands, fine motor control increases…is your teacher is looking for absolute perfection in everything before moving on to Lightly Row? (She has learned to play the notes to the Twinkles, hasn’t she?) There is no hard and fast rule, and the decision about when or whether to advance is based on a lot of factors, including the personality/temperament of the student and what level of mastery they are able to accomplish at that particular point. In general, though, teachers do need to be sensitive to situations where frustration and discouragement makes insisting on that last little bit counterproductive. As the student progresses, regular review allows the student to revisit material and achieve higher levels of mastery.

Laura said: Sep 14, 2007
Suzuki Association Member
358 posts

Without knowing anything personally about either your daughter or her teacher, I’d say that in general, that does sound like a very long time for a 6 year old to still be in the pre-twinkle stage (she started at 4, right?). And by pre-twinkle, you mean that she’s learning to bow rhythms on open strings, but hasn’t yet learned to put the fingers on the strings such that the actual Twinkle melody comes through?

I agree about asking what the teacher is looking for. I believe that a 6-year old is intellectually and emotionally mature enough both to be reponsible for working towards what’s required, and also to be sensitive (in the negative sense) to any perceptions of failure or lack of progress that come from the teacher and/or parent. So for this age, it never hurts to communicate very clearly to the students at their level, and to expect some sort of response or improvement rather than having them sulk privately at home.

Is it that she has repeatedly not followed directions about something basic like what string to play on, how to accurately bow a Twinkle rhythm, or even when to start or stop when asked? If so, is it due to lack of cooperation, or lack of understanding?

Or is the teacher demanding too high a standard? It’s hard to expect absolute perfection for Twinkles the first time around, because you can’t expect the student to have enough musical or technical experience to make it sound professional. It’s going to sound very much like they are learning Twinkles for the first time.

If they can consistently play the correct rhythm on the correct strings with the correct fingerings, with a pretty good sense of fluency, that’s more than enough to expect before progessing to Lightly Row. If they’re still struggling with keeping the bow straight or having the second finger perfectly in tune, those are things that can continue to improve even as they learn new pieces. In other words, Twinkles will continue to improve over review, since their basic playing skills will develop as they learn more pieces. (I remember reading somewhere how Dr. Suzuki could tell what book a student was studying, based on how he or she played Twinkles!)

Those are just some possibilities that came to mind for the sake of general discussion. Perhaps some of them apply in your situation, perhaps not. In any case, I’d ask the teacher for sure what she’s aiming for! Good luck.

Nobuaki said: Sep 20, 2007
Nobuaki Tanaka
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Mount Prospect, IL
115 posts

have you discussed with a teacher? seems luck of communication between you and a teacher happen right now. The best answer is to ask the teacher directly, not from others.

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