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 8th installment.

What are good ways to keep students involved through Junior and Senior High?

This is such a great question. Teens are involved in so many activities that are demanding of their time—not to mention homework. Helping them keep a good attitude about their music is critical. Time encroachments mean less time to practice and when a teen feels unprepared, they can become defensive, sullen, and apathetic. I always say as long as they keep a good attitude in their lessons and are open for learning, I can deal.

Social outlets that are attached to music are invaluable. Field trips with other teens to an instrument shop complete with a tour of the repair facilities, exchanges with other programs, going en masse to a concert that involves ice cream or pizza before or after are all ways to surround them with other teens who have the same interests. In addition, playing in a small ensemble with friends or students of like age and ability builds life long friendships and long lasting motivation. Arranging sight reading “parties” at different student’s homes can be a time to expand their sight reading abilities as well as expand their social life with musician friends. Two ideas that I have put into motion which I cherish are:

  1. A holiday duet fest where my studio has gathered in someone’s home with parents attending as well. I play duets with each of my students (repertoire chosen wisely according to level) and keep rotating around different students. The parents are informally listening and the other kids are “hanging out” and eating. Oh yeah, the parents are also eating and consuming their own beverage of choice.

  2. Form duet teams and assign each team a duet to be learned and rehearsed over the summer. In the fall they each attend one another’s lesson where I coach them with the final goal of a formal concert.

Very few of these wonderful people will become professional musicians, but almost all will continue playing and enjoy music for the rest of their lives.

Expert of the Week, Teri Einfeldt

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