Ask the Experts

Last summer, focus groups at summer Institutes were asked to submit questions for a panel of “Suzuki Experts” to answer. This is the fifth installment.

How can we maintain the joy of playing guitar without weighing the student down with technique?

The better technique a student has, the more joy in making music she will experience. When a child has good technique, he can play expressively and musically without any restraint from the fingers, in the same way children use their voices. When technique is carefully presented and fully developed a child will not be weighed down, but will be free to develop their ability to the fullest. Creating a fun environment is important and we should remember Dr. Suzuki’s words, “Without hurry, without rest.”

Are there ways to familiarize students with the composers of the guitar repertoire to make the pieces more accessible?

Your teacher should be able to help with information about the composers. There are several books about the history of the classical guitar and composers. My favorite is Grunfeld’s Art and Times of the Guitar. It is out of print, but still can be found. It is worth it just for the painting of several guitarists “discussing” the nails or no nails issue.

I just Googled Mauro Giuliani and came up with the wikipedia article on him. There is a cool picture of him with an earring and an Elvis look to his hair. The Internet can be a great resource!

Is there a resource for technique tips? How do you help your kid differentiate between free stroke and rest stroke? At what point beyond learning notes and rhythms do students need to learn how to play soft/loud or slower/faster for each song’s taste (develop musicality?)

A Suzuki teacher should be able to answer any questions you have about technique and should be asked first, as he is the most knowledgeable about your child’s technical status. In the broadest sense, free strokes break up chords and are played across strings, and rest strokes are scalar and have consecutive notes on the same string. There is a great grey area in between, and I don’t generally teach children the same way for their free stroke development.

I feel that Twinkle is where students should begin to develop musically. As Dr. Suzuki taught, the point when a student can play all the notes correctly is the point where the student can work on the music.

Expert of the Week, David Madsen

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