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Suzuki Mamas Tribe - Page 6

post #101 of 459
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by greencat View Post
I'm so, excited (may be more than the kids.) I got the box of my oders yesterday. In it, I have the game, Musopoly. How do you or your kids like the game, if you have played it before?

The Music Mind Game is very, very interesting, but her book is intimidating, since I dont' have much of music/theory back ground. However, I saw the new, "Puppy Packet" on line.

If you buy the Puppy Packet, can you just jump in and start working with the kit without reading the book? (please, please, please, say, yes. and, say somthing like 'the book is for teachers and student who are on book 7 to get most out of the game' --or something like that; tee hee... )
We got the Puppy Packet online and have had a great deal of fun with it, without the book. There are tons of MMG videos online in case you're looking for suggestions. I think they're youtube but not remembering for sure. Do you have a university near you? I've checked the book out from our local university library to get some ideas too. But I'd say given what you can see online the book isn't absolutely necessary.
post #102 of 459
Thread Starter 

Tight spot with upcoming recital...

DD's Book 1 violin graduation recital happens in less than two weeks and we've suffered a couple losses. One is huge, the other is just logistics.

DD's dear dear piano teacher passed away very unexpectedly. DD had been taking piano lessons since earlier this year and had adored her teacher. We all did. She was steeped in Suzuki and raised seven kids in it. They even had lessons with Kataoka. She was a tremendous gift to the community and will be greatly missed.

The piano teacher had graciously offered to let us use her studio for DD's violin/piano recital week after next. We are left trying to figure out a couple of things. One, should we include the piano pieces without the teacher? This doesn't feel right to me, but I can't articulate why exactly. I do know that without the teacher to guide us in preparing these last two weeks we don't feel prepared. I feel she was essential to it happening well.

Two, should I have the recital at our home? We don't have much of a good space or nice piano for the accompanist, but it'd do and DD would probably feel much better playing here rather than someplace she's not familiar with. Then again, it could be "too" familiar and she'd have an audience (about 10 family friends) but wouldn't be in her performance shoes. KWIM? Her violin teacher would be here and that could take care of some of that, but still I worry that she'd be too casual and then not play well, play goofy, or not even play at all. I feel like that's not as likely to happen in a different/foreign venue.

Thanks for listening and any ideas. It's been a rough week here and I could use some encouragement.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the show really must go on. My mom has tickets to fly in from quite a ways off. My mother put me through 12 years of Suzuki violin, starting from age 5, and I'm ever so grateful. For her to see my daughter play this graduation is something I've been wanting to happen. So I do want it to happen. I just have to figure out how.
post #103 of 459
Quote:
Originally Posted by insahmniak View Post
We got the Puppy Packet online and have had a great deal of fun with it, without the book. There are tons of MMG videos online in case you're looking for suggestions. I think they're youtube but not remembering for sure. Do you have a university near you? I've checked the book out from our local university library to get some ideas too. But I'd say given what you can see online the book isn't absolutely necessary.
Oh! That is what I wanted to hear!! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Q: what book should I look at University library? Some titles will be helpful.
post #104 of 459
We are also planning the Book 1 recital and Twinkle graduation recital with my dd and ds. The details are not figured out yet which I am getting a bit worried.

We are very sorry for your loss. I can only imagine your sorrow and feeling of abcence. I have no experience in loosing anyone where I depended for strength; especially when "the show had to go on." Though, I can relate to the time when our first teacher, Martha left. We were absolutely in love with Martha. (I should say, "In Mental Harmony" with Martha.) After she had to go live with her sister in far away, we did grow into the next teacher who took her place. However, with up hill in many issues. We now have a different teacher who we grow under and very happy. We are still good friends with the previous teacher.

I can also relate to the situation where you have to cope with an occasion without the person who you held dear. When I was expecting my second child, I couldn't get my midwife who delivered my first to come deliver my second as I wanted. I had to find a different midwife. It was hard to accept the fact that Molly couldn't come for us, but I had to work with a midwife who had to step up to take Molly's place (they were friends.)

It took a lot of talking about many issues over our concerns to be on the same page. It all worked out at the end, but it only worked because we had a same wish: To deliver the baby at home with loving attention. And, I am very thankful for her.

So, I'll say you must to keep your focus on what is this recital for, and what do you wish your child to remember out of this glorious occasion? And, do the best to meet that wish. Deciding the details of the recital with your daughter, together may also help her in time of feeling a great loss. I think children are often more honest in telling you how they feel, and what they want, if you ask or give them an opportunity to do so. I think open-ended question is a good way to start discussions. Hope all will go well.

With Love,
post #105 of 459
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by greencat View Post
We are very sorry for your loss. I can only imagine your sorrow and feeling of abcence. I have no experience in loosing anyone where I depended for strength; especially when "the show had to go on." Though, I can relate to the time when our first teacher, Martha left. We were absolutely in love with Martha. (I should say, "In Mental Harmony" with Martha.) After she had to go live with her sister in far away, we did grow into the next teacher who took her place. However, with up hill in many issues. We now have a different teacher who we grow under and very happy. We are still good friends with the previous teacher.
...
So, I'll say you must to keep your focus on what is this recital for, and what do you wish your child to remember out of this glorious occasion? And, do the best to meet that wish. Deciding the details of the recital with your daughter, together may also help her in time of feeling a great loss. I think children are often more honest in telling you how they feel, and what they want, if you ask or give them an opportunity to do so. I think open-ended question is a good way to start discussions. Hope all will go well.

With Love,
Thank you for your kind words. We may have found a new venue and DD has determined she still wants to play a couple of the piano pieces. One piano piece will be Twinkle with Alberti bass, which I think may be a challenge for me to get through with dry eyes. But it'll be a nice tribute. We'll dedicate the recital to her and maybe say a few words.

As for whether or not to continue with piano, that's been a difficult decision. Our piano teacher's daughter has offered to take on her mother's students and has room for us, but the lessons will be held in her mother's studio and that will be hard for me - I'm not sure how it would be for my daughter. I think we could move past that after a while, but I'm sure the first few times would be difficult.

Doing the two instruments at once has proven to be challenging. One of the challenges is about having started violin so much earlier (relatively) than piano. It is definitely more difficult for her to feel as competent with piano and she becomes frustrated very easily when she practices. When we sit down to practice - of her own volition - she literally throws her hand at the piano keys, as if she just can't be bothered to try to have a good hand posture/shape. She does this very, very deliberately. I calmly and matter of factly respond with, "If you're not ready for this right now let's just come back to it later." But then she immediately cries and grabs at my clothes and tells me she wants to play. Gah. I'm pretty sure it's tied to how she feels about her playing. She's expressing a conflict, right, about wanting to play but being afraid of "trying" to play...? I feel very encouraging and try not to put pressure on her at all. I don't know how to change my approach but there's probably a lot I could be doing differently.

There are other issues at stake here, but mostly what I'm seeing is that she does seem to want to play. She does play willingly, without prompting. I'm not married to the idea of her continuing piano right now, but neither do I want to communicate to her that I don't believe in her ability to work through this steep learning curve. I feel like we're in a challenging spot, and it sure would feel so easy to just take this opportunity to end the piano lessons.
post #106 of 459
Quote:
Originally Posted by insahmniak View Post
Thank you for your kind words. We may have found a new venue and DD has determined she still wants to play a couple of the piano pieces. One piano piece will be Twinkle with Alberti bass, which I think may be a challenge for me to get through with dry eyes. But it'll be a nice tribute. We'll dedicate the recital to her and maybe say a few words.
That sounds wonderful. I did not ask for the date of your recital, but I wish you the best, and the day to be the very beautiful to remeber.

greencat
post #107 of 459
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by greencat View Post
That sounds wonderful. I did not ask for the date of your recital, but I wish you the best, and the day to be the very beautiful to remeber.

greencat
Thank you. It's in a couple of days and we're glad to be finally getting there. I have the programs written up and the flowers ordered for the teachers. We'll take the piano teacher's flowers to her studio after the recital. I've been told family will be there.

DD has put so much effort into preparing. And aside from some typical five year old stuff she's been wonderful to work with. The other day we sat down to play Lightly Row on piano and worked on R Hand, L Hand, then hands together. She did something she'd never done before: she played it all through hands together without a single hiccup or pause or missed note. It was utterly perfect and I was so stunned. This is quite an accomplishment for her and I was so proud of her that I actually teared up. At that moment I knew that however she played at the recital it wouldn't particularly matter. That one moment reminded me that from where I sit I have the best view in the house. I'm present for the day to day challenges and I witness the accomplishments as they happen. As challenging as it can be sometimes, I wouldn't trade it for the world.
post #108 of 459
Thread Starter 
Well there's been a lot of Suzuki-related drama at my place and I'm sorry - it has seemingly hijacked the thread. I feel bad about that.

How about something new?
Anyone want to talk about Halloween group lesson ideas? Have any favorites?
post #109 of 459
We have Halloween Play-In for group lesson. This will be our third year to do this. This is also a time for moms to compete for our cooking-creativity with creepy foods, since each family is bringing treats for a party afterwards. This group lesson is also open to the public. Therefore, many extended families come with camera/recording device.

Last year, we decorated our recital hall with giant spiders made from black garbage bags and red plastic cups, skeletons made from empty milk jugs, black light bulbs, gauze and webs hanging from ceiling, etc.

I don't think we'll have anything elaborate this year, though: Just the costume and junk food party afterwards.
post #110 of 459
If we happen to have a group class on or right before Hallowe'en, we usually do a couple of special things to celebrate. We play "Witches' Dance" of course, but we usually do the "dance", which involves kicking legs in can-can style on the accented notes, spinning a circle on the cadential triplets and a few other silly things. And then we usually do "spooky Twinkles" ... for example, playing simultaneous versions of Twinkle a half-step apart, play sul ponto or a weird technique that I'm not sure what it's called where you play close to the frog using more of a fist bow-hold and move the bow with lots of pressure parallel to the strings rather than perpendicular.

Miranda
post #111 of 459
Quote:
Originally Posted by insahmniak View Post
Anyone want to talk about Halloween group lesson ideas? Have any favorites?
My Book 1 group likes to play "Spooky Rhody". (Aunt Rhody in a minor) And we like to mess around with spooky sounds. Sometimes we do spooky sounds in the dark! I like to have them play Twinkle with spooky sounds during the half notes, or with tremolo or riccoche bows.

I have a few families that don't celebrate Halloween, so we don't do any full-blown Halloween party.
post #112 of 459
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
a weird technique that I'm not sure what it's called where you play close to the frog using more of a fist bow-hold and move the bow with lots of pressure parallel to the strings rather than perpendicular.
I don't know if that has a real name - we always called it "cow tones".
post #113 of 459

Question : New Suzuki Student

I hope it's okay if I ask a question outside the current topic of discussion.

Our DD started Suzuki viola about 6 weeks ago. I feel like we started her too late, or maybe just at the wrong time.

At 2 and 3 years old DD was focused. She'd sit through a two hour concert or ballet no problem. She watched everything and took it all in. Her fine motor skills were great. She held a pencil correctly at 14 months. She could peel an orange before she was three. She did best in one-on-one and small group activities. DH's family is very musical. I thought a stringed instrument would be a good thing for her to try.

However, we didn't actually get her started with Suzuki until she was 4. And lately she's been generally frigidity, wiggly, unfocused and silly. I admit that this annoys me and DH. We know that it's normal for 4 year olds, but she wasn't like this three months ago. DH does the lessons with her. He has more musical background than I do. He says that her teacher is patient, and not put off by her lack of concentration at times. The teacher says that both DD and DH are doing well, but I'm still wondering if we missed our window of opportunity on this, or if it just isn't a good fit for her.

She's still using the practise/butterbox instrument that her and DH made. She is improving with the exercises, but slowly. We have heard her hum the tunes, and incorporate the musical phrasing from the songs on the CD into songs she makes up... though not a lot. I was encouraged last weekend when she spontaneously started singing the song her teacher sings to DS at the bus stop.

She never protests going to her lesson. She often wants to draw pictures or make things for her teacher. It's no problem to get her to practice the exercises for a few minutes at a time provided we pick the RIGHT time to do it. I feel like this would have gone a lot better with her at 2.5 or 3 though.

I don't know what I'm looking for exactly with this post. Maybe some insight into what we should expect from a 4 year old Suzuki student. How long do we give this? How do we know if we should continue? Do all teachers start kids with a butterbox? How long do they typically practice before they move on to the real thing?
post #114 of 459
I gently chuckled at your post, and not because of anything you wrote, but because all of the behaviors your dd are exhibiting are completely normal and expected for a four year old in music lessons. I don't think that you've missed your window at all! There is always an adjustment period whena child starts formal lessons, imo, especially when they are young. Young children usually have never been in a situation where they work one one one with another adult before, and something as formal and structured as a music lesson is a brand new experience.

Its quite possible that she's still trying to figure out how the whole lesson thing works- trying to learn what's acceptable behavior and what's not, and how she's expected to act at lessons. Plus, what might seem like silly excercises to you or your dh are actually going to be quite involved for her physically and motor-skill wise, and sometimes young music students get rustrated and act silly or flat out refuse if they think its something that they might not be able to do.

Really though, your 4 year old sounds quite normal. I don't expect more than 5 or so minutes of practice daily for the first 5-6 months or so, depending on how fast the child moves. The first year of lessons for a young child is more about learning about lessons, learning to interact with the teacher, and learning to preactice everyday than it is about getting actual music out of the instrument. (And you will get music the first year- I promise!) I had a teacher trainer tell me that the first year is all about putting things into the child, and it isn't until late in the first year or early in the second that you start seeing results.

So, the real point of this very long winded post is to not give up yet! She's normal in every way, you haven't missed the boat on anything. I bet you'll graduate to a real instrument very soon, and that will provide a lot of enthusiasm and motivation to you and your dd. Good luck!
post #115 of 459
ChetMC I second everything Stacymom has said. Totally normal. If you'd started at 2 1/2 or 3, you'd likely still be dealing with some of these "4-year-old" issues now. Kids grow and change and new wiggles and distractions and motivation humps come up as they do. It's totally normal.

I start any kid under 9 on a box. How long they stay on it depends on numerous factors -- age, focus, care, progress with posture tasks, the presence or absence of a cohort of other box-playing peers, whether there are older siblings already on 'real instruments,' etc. etc.. Ideally I susually aim to keep a 4-year-old on a box for about 12 lessons. Our current group of three beginners is getting twice-weekly master-class-like lessons, so those 12 lessons are almost done. These kids (aged 4, 5 and 6) now have their real bows and are using their real violins under teacher guidance at lessons, but won't be taking the actual instruments home to practice on until probably the end of next week (two more lessons). But every teacher is different.

I'm always thrilled to hear about little viola beginners! What size / type of 'real' viola will your dd be using? Have you figured that part out yet?

Miranda
post #116 of 459
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
I'm always thrilled to hear about little viola beginners! What size / type of 'real' viola will your dd be using? Have you figured that part out yet?
Stacymom & Miranda, thank you both for your quick responses.

DH said that the teacher sized DD at her last lesson. He said that she would need a 1/64th size to start. That's sounds really small to me though. Maybe he meant 1/16th? He said that the instrument was insanely small!

When I mentioned to DH that I'd heard it could be hard to track down small instruments for beginners, and that I'd seen posts from parents scrambling to get tiny instruments, he told me that this particular teacher does it for the parents since she's the one who is connected with the community and can find what is needed the most easily. That's all we know at this point though.
post #117 of 459

String Orchestra

Does your music school have a program like a String Orchestra for the advanced students who are able to read music? For an example, a friend of mine who attend different school from my kids belongs to the String Quartet. Their school have different string orchestra groups according to the level of skill. For an instance, a group of students who had completed at least the book one, and can read music will be invited to a group of “Young Discovery Orchestra.” This is separate from their group class. They are students of various age (and instruments) who play together as orchestra; not necessary from Suzuki book (most often not.) They come to the school for their private lesson, group lesson, and this orchestra meet (which means three times a week for some students.) My school currently does not have one. If you do, I would like to hear about it. Thanks.
post #118 of 459
Our "music school" is basically just me and my mom and our tiny cohort of students, but we do have ensemble components to what we do.

On group class nights, we have all the kids together for 20 minutes or so. They range in age from 4-16, and in level from pre-Twinkle to post-Book-10. We have them together for reasons of supportive community-building, even though it's a huge stretch to make the time relevent to both extremes. After that 20-minute get-together, the group of 7 advanced violinists and violists retreat to another room for an ensemble rehearsal. They're all Book 6+ and they're called "Summit Strings" and have matching golf shirts for performances -- they have grown a strong sense of ensemble identity and loyalty over the past year. They work on arrangements of various music, from folk tunes to Vivaldi to Dvorak, usually 3-4 part arrangements. We don't have an accompanist, so multi-part arrangements are a necessity, but also an opportunity for growth. The kids are often 1 or 2 to a part.

We also have a community string orchestra that is about two dozen people, including all of our Book 3+ students, adult amateurs and the three local string teachers. We don't have enough people to make orchestras at different levels, so we just have repertoire that spans different levels of difficulty, with the less advanced students leaving after we've rehearsed the easier stuff.

We also have one kid-quartet, made up of kids 12-14 who are quite evenly matched for ability and motivation. They're Book 6-7 level, though they started playing together whent they were finishing Book 4. We used to have two kid-quartets, but our older group's cellist and violist grew up and moved on. We have enough violinists for at least two more quartets, but don't have the cellists and violists to fill things out.

Miranda
post #119 of 459
I think we just found another teacher for our program! I teach in a smallish city (14,000), and the other violin teacher left this past summer. She was tired of the 3 hours round trip. I added a teaching day and had room for most of her students to my studio.

We had placed an ad in the SAA journal and got a few responses, but our program is small and we don't have enough students to have a teacher relocate. Then last week I got a call out of the blue from a college student who just moved to the town where I teach. She hasn't had any formal Suzuki training, but she is familiar with the method. She is so excited about teaching! And she's interested in Early Childhood classes, which is next on our list of things to add to our program.

I met with her today. Now we just need to rustle up some students for her.
post #120 of 459
That's great news Elizabeth. Hope everything works out well.

Miranda
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