Why is Suzuki right for the advanced student-bk6 and up?

Paula said: Apr 6, 2008
 1 posts

Once a child reaches middle school it seems as if they drift away from our Suzuki School. We generally offer group through book 4 and then the children are encouraged to join chamber groups.

How does the Suzuki method apply to the older child? It has to be more than the defined Suzuki methodology because it seems that most traditional teachers teach from the Suzuki books as well as Suzuki teachers augment from traditional souces.

Do we all turn into traditional learners when group classes disappear?

What differentiates the method concerning the more advanced players?

Why is the Suzuki method better for the advanced child?

Thanks , Paula

Laura said: Apr 6, 2008
Suzuki Association Member
358 posts

Ideally, there should be a very natural transition from Suzuki to not-Suzuki, over the years. So much of it depends on the child’s age at the level they are playing the more advanced Suzuki books.

Some key factors that set traditional apart from Suzuki are:
- ability to read at the same level of the repertoire they are playing (i.e. can they learn the piece by themselves, given only the written music)
- greater range of repertoire (Suzuki sticks mostly to Baroque and Classical)
- independence in learning and home practice (Suzuki requires parent to adopt role as home teacher)

From a pure Suzuki beginning, all of these factors should eventually be acquired. The question is when, and how. It depends on the individual child. But eventually, whether or not they are Suzuki will be secondary to the fact that they are a musician.

The benefit of a Suzuki beginning is the excellent training of the ear, the technique, and the musical heart—so whether or not a piece was learned by reading or rote, or with a parents’ help at home or not, ultimately who cares as long as it’s played well and enjoyed?

So to answer your question, I would say that by a “certain” age and playing level (and that is highly individual), their ability to read music, practice independently, and play/appreciate a broader range of repertoire will mean that they no longer have to regard themselves as Suzuki students. However, the Suzuki foundation they have acquired in terms of musicianship, technique, ear training, and approach to learning will always be a part of them.

Jennifer Visick said: Apr 7, 2008
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
997 posts

Even when a student is older, moves into sight-reading, moves outside the core Suzuki repertoire, works in other genres besides Baroque, Classical, or Romantic music, joins school music programs and/or orchestras and chamber music groups, or switches to a non-Suzuki teacher, the basic Suzuki philosophy can still serve as a solid fundamental platform off of which to practice and make music.

(Everyone can learn, take things in small steps, learn at your own pace, collaborate rather than compete, review past rep for better mastery or to incorporate new skills, and always being ready to give a performance, create beautiful tone, work in groups, learn from other students as well as teachers, have a solid healthy relationship with your parents and be on the same page as your parents about your music education, learn from artists you’ve never met through frequent and purposeful listening to concerts and recordings, etc.)

said: Apr 8, 2008
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Guitar, Flute, Cello, Viola
120 posts

Great topic, and great answers! What a timely discussion for me right now.

I am going to pose the question, what if the students are not quite high school yet—but are around 12-13 yrs. old? I am struggling with this age group a bit right now. Sometimes I feel that they sort of “hit the wall” with Suzuki—they begin to hear negative things from other people (school orchestra teachers, youth orchestra, or summer camp), and they begin to resist doing review. They still come to groups, and we are always doing an “advanced” piece outside of Suzuki so that they have something challenging and different—one of Michael McLean’s pieces or Vivaldi Concerto for Four Violins. They also want to still play games at group like “hide the rosin”. I don’t play those kinds of games at their group level, but I hear the “I wish we could play hide the rosin…” from time to time, and yet I also perceive from them that they are “over” group.

It is an excellent point that Suzuki principles will stay with a student, even if they are branching out in repertoire and transitioning to less parent involvement. But in my area, school music programs are few and far between, most of my students are not in youth orchestra yet, and they have no outlet as of now for chamber music, except our advanced group pieces. So, I feel at a disadvantage in keeping them motivated at group. I’m trying to make group class musically fun for them through the challenge and the level of musicianship we are achieving, but I sense that they sometimes desire the kind of group class that’s only about socializing and games.

Jennifer Visick said: Apr 9, 2008
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
997 posts

what’s “hide the rosin”?

And why can’t it be played (at least occasionally) in a group class of 12-13 year olds?


said: Apr 9, 2008
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Guitar, Flute, Cello, Viola
120 posts

Hide the Rosin is a game we use for dynamics. One person is picked to find the rosin and leaves the room while the group (or another single person) decides where to hide the rosin.

When the first person returns to the room the group plays a song (Theme, Lightly Row, GTAR, Allegro). As the person searches for the rosin the group gives hints of whether they are “hot” or “cold” with their dynamics. If they are close to the rosin the group plays loudly, and if they are not close they play softly.

It is a fun game and the kids love it. However, sometimes I don’t like using this game at group class for a few reasons. It does make for a lot of chaos at times, so I only choose to end class with it. Sometimes it takes longer than you’d think to find the rosin, and then that means not enough people get to take a turn being the one to find or hid the rosin. I find that the kids sometimes lose sight of really using the dynamics, because they get so excited. To be truthful, I only use this game about 2-3 times a year.

Another game we use more often is Family Feud where the kids line up into two teams. The person at the front of each team’s line steps up, and a song is chosen (off the top of my head or from a card). They are told first what book the song is in (you pick the book/song based on the level of the two students standing there), then you say the song. The first student to play the first few notes of the song wins a point for their team. It’s a good review game.

But, about Hide the Rosin—it’s hard to incorporate this game with the 12-13 yr. olds, because of the way my group classes are structured. The first group of the day is book 4 and above. The are joined throughout the morning at various other “arrival times” by students from Book 3 and Book 2. When the book 1 students arrive, everyone from Book 4 and above is allowed to leave, although they are encouraged to stay. They almost always all leave and I finish with students from Book 1-3. I’ve never done Hide the Rosin with only the students from Books 4 and above, and unless they choose to stay until the end they wouldn’t get the chance. There have been times where students have been there the entire time and we played the game. It is most fun when all the levels are involved, and to me it’s more successful as a learning tool.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see it as an age-appropriate game for the 12-13 yr olds, if it’s just their group alone, but I am curious what others think. I also know that the kids would want to play this game every week, and it would get very overused. If it’s overused I think the learning point of the game really gets lost.

Conversely, it’s hard to find “games” for 12-13 yr. olds (and I have one 15 yr. old). I do one activity where we do a sort of memory/concentration game. Everyone forms a circle and is assigned a number. Together the group does “knees, knees, clap, clap, snap, snap, 1, 2″. That is “person 1″ leading off with their number and “calling on” “person 2″. Then person 2 leads off by saying “knees, knees, clap, clap, snap, snap, 2, x” and they pick another number. If you lose the rhythm (say, if you can’t think of a number and hesitate) you must sit down. If you call a number for someone who’s “out” then you have to sit down. It becomes a game of remembering which numbers are out, while keeping the constant rhythm.

So, for all those who have used Hide the Rosin, or now that you know what it is, do you think it would be appropriate/useful for 12-15 yr olds?

A broader question that I am interested in is, what else keeps 12-15 yr olds that are in books 4-7 motivated for group and for Suzuki? For example, I have a hard time getting them to attend one workshop a year (been there, done that). They don’t see the value in it, and I don’t think the parents do either. My kids HAVE enjoyed the special pieces we do—McLean Tangos, Vivaldi Concerto for 4 violins, etc. But, they are NOT excited about doing book 5 pieces, especially the slow movements. For most of them the Vivaldi G minor is the top level for them. Maybe they will get more excited once they get to the last part of Book 5 and into book 6. They are also particularly unexcited about pieces in books 1-3, and getting them to review the pieces from the recital list is often a struggle.

I would appreciate any thoughts.

said: Apr 9, 2008
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Guitar, Flute, Cello, Viola
120 posts

I also forgot to say that as you can see from my last post we DO occasionally play Hide the Rosin with everyone. A few of my 12-13 yr. olds have asked to play Hide the Rosin, and it just surprised me that they would be interested in it, because I assumed that they were beyond that emotionally and technically.

Laurel said: Apr 11, 2008
Laurel MacCullochViolin
Langley, BC
120 posts

That age group IS beyond it, but kids do sometimes like to re-visit things from their past. Activities for younger kids won’t hold their interest for a great length of time, but it’s still familiar and kind of comforting for them.

You could use this game in a much more complex way, if you want—maybe with a song like “Waltz” that has dynamics in it already. If the “seeker” is far away, you need to play this song pp, p and mp; if the “seeker” is close by, you need to play it mf, f and ff. Could that work?


said: Jul 20, 2008
 16 posts

My book 6 child just attended an institute. She had the opportunity to play her repetoire with others her age. They “shared” other pieces outside the suzuki repetoire that my child came home “needing” to learn.

At her level, the institute recognized all the kids would be playing other pieces outside the repetoire. The clinicians worked on technique, in addition to the “working piece”. The working piece was occasionally not in the suzuki repertoire

For my daughter, I am now less concerned about “traditional” v. Suzuki. She enjoys the institutes and workshops, the peer interaction, playing together with her peers on repertoire pieces, and orchestral pieces.

If she were strictly traditional, the opportunity to meet others from across the world and immediately have the same repetoire, would be impossible. She would share time in orchestra, but everyone’s working piece would be different. Even shered pieces would could be different based on the arrangement.

Since she has younger siblings, she can attend institutes with us and have as good of a time as she did prior to book five. Suzuki enhances her opportunities to be the social person with children her age who share her interests.

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