Posts Tagged suzuki book 1

Landing Airplanes and Shooting Arrows | One Thing at a Time, Please

Song of The Wind & Arrows: Here’s The Set Up

    • “Song of The Wind.”
    • LOOP
    • ITEM 1: “Okay, find the fuzzy spot with your ring finger.” (bow hand).
    • “Keep you thumb bent.” (bow hand).
    • “Keep your eyes on the finger board, focus on your tapes.” (finger board).
    • “Rocket wrist… keep your violin hand nice and long. It looks like you’re trying to deliver a pizza.”
    • “Honey, we need to pick a tempo and stay with it.”
    • GO TO ITEM 1
    • END LOOP

        That’s an abbreviated version of my monologue during yesterday’s practice. For crying out loud, you’d think I was trying to land an airplane. The look in wee-man’s eye said he was ready to throw me into the nearest lion’s den. It’s no wonder so many of us “type A” parents want to start popping valium when we help our kids practice.

        I take copious notes at my son’s lessons, which is a blessing and a curse. It’s important because I would otherwise forget important points. (Are we supposed to be playing fast-fast-slow or slow-slow-fast? Was the thumb supposed to be pointing toward the first finger or the pinkie?) But it’s disastrous when I try to accomplish every point on my list simultaneously.

        Choose one arrow at a time, and make sure the target’s fairly close.” – Edmund Sprunger

        In his book, Helping Parents Practice: Ideas for Making It Easier, Suzuki teacher trainer Ed Sprunger explains that children can really only work on thing at a time.  He advises parents to stop and re-prioritize when they find themselves giving their child more than one thing to pay attention to. Sprunger points out that trying to “shoot more than one arrow at a time” will overwhelm the child and make the parent feel incompetent. (Or desperate for valium.)

        Ed’s book is brilliant, and I would recommend it to any Suzuki parent feeling a little lost, frustrated or overwhelmed with practice.



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        Twinkle with Harmony or Everyone Look Happy for the Camera

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        Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star with Harmony Take 1 (in 1 Take).

        Suzuki parents (and students) back me up here: listening to / playing the Twinkle Variations gets OLD. Sure they’re good for you, like Brussels Sprout, and you might even like eating them… the first 9,999 days. But, and I’m pretty sure there’s a book about this on my to-read list, after day 10,000 who wants to eat that again? It doesn’t even smell like something edible, let’s be honest. Finding creative ways to break up the monotony is your only hope. You add some melted cheese on those sprouts, or a Hollandaise sauce.

        That’s why I was so excited to get my copy of Trio Book: Suzuki Violin Arranged for Three Violins yesterday. It has harmony parts to the Suzuki Books 1-3 repertoire. Today the boy and I tried out the Twinkles and some Folk Songs. In the video above we tackle Twinkle Twinkle Little Star à la Mein Trio-Buch.

        I promise to read Suzuki Parent’s Diary: Or How I Survived My First 10,000 Twinkles and cook up some more fun things to try. In the meantime, what tips can you share for keeping things interesting in the early days of practice? Are you a 10,000 Twinkles survivor? I want to hear about it.

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        I’m Never Going to be Famous, and Other Musical Motivation

        Why do you (and/or your child(ren)) play a stringed instrument (or take any music education for that matter)?

        My reasons for playing an instrument have varied wildly; everything from enjoying the sound of beautiful music to simply not wanting to disappoint my teacher. Sometimes it’s the freedom of letting everything else go while I concentrate on a piece. Sometimes it’s the rush of adrenaline from performing. Other times its the comradeship of playing in groups. But sometimes my only motivation is not being a ‘quitter’. Even lackluster motivation like that will work (for very short periods). While I’ve had many motivational shifts and swings, fame has never entered into the equation. So hearing about it from my son this morning was as baffling as it was comical.

        Today my son’s practice started off as many of our less-than-pleasant practices do. There was his slog of a journey down the staircase after my third appeal. There was breath-holding and bobble-heading while I summarized our goals for the morning. There was the instrument power-struggle as we attempted Monkey Song on the D string. Finally, there was a kind of warp-speed galloping through review pieces. Somewhere between Go Tell Aunt Rhody and May Song, I made the mistake of mentioning our need to be at school in two minutes; putting both of us in full-scale panic mode. The result was a mell-of-a-hess-of-a-folk-song rushed, less than ideal piece of music.

        As I became aware of our growing unease, I tried to comfort and reassure my son with affection. It began an awkward sort of tug-of-war with his bow, but after a moment he acquiesced and let me hold him. Then he began to sob and out came the statement: “I’m never going to be famous.” (Huh?)

        His ambitions for *fame* never occurred me. I’d always considered his music lessons an educational pursuit; not something to bring notoriety. While I don’t want to squash my son’s ambition, the thought of having fame as our goal would make daily practice on folk songs feel a little like trying to climb Mt. Everest in Uggs and Spandex shorts.

        A plan to focus on the more immediate benefits of music education seems much more helpful. In fact, Carolyn Phillips of the Norwalk Youth Symphony has compiled a great list of them: The 12 Benefits of Music Education. Staying motivated is easier when purpose is clear… when we really *feel* why we’re doing something. So here’s a question for *parents* of string players – Why is your child(ren) are learning play a stringed instrument? Are the reasons yours, theirs or both and… are those reasons the same?


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