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Suzuki Mamas Tribe - Page 7

post #121 of 459
Hi, it's been a little while, just red up on what I'v missed. insahmniak, I just wanted to say that I too went througha similar thing as a kid... every piano teacher I ever had either died, retiered, or moved away. I finaly gave up & stuck to the violin. I don't know what to tell you about continuing or not, I kept trying to continue. It just never worked out.

Anyways, I have never even herd of a "box" I have always started my students on an instrument. I started at six on a real violin, I have started kids as young as four on real 1/32 sized violins. I plan on starting my DD on a real violin as young as possible. She is already facinated, and will move her bow arm in imitation.
post #122 of 459
If you can find a decent 1/32, and the child is willing to take lessons, I think being able to work with the real violin is a way to go. (However, 1/32 is small enough, and I really don’t see a value in using or trying to find the ‘insane’ 1/64.) My DD started with 1/32, but I gave my DS the “Cherub Violin” made from cardboards to participate in a group lesson with my DD. He was not even 3 yrs. old at a time, and he was not enrolled in a class. DS used it to practice taking a bow, to learn parts of violin, resting position, etc. in the group class and at home with me.

Some teacher will help the student make the box-violin out of empty box, toilet paper core, etc which I think it is great. I ordered the Cherub Violin on the net, since it came with a wooden bow. My DS pretended to play Twinkle with it, but that was not the purpose of having the box-violin.
post #123 of 459
My mom has always started kids on boxes, and believed firmly in the practice. I always thought it was kind of contrived and mean to the kids to insist they use a pretend thing for their first dozen lessons or so, and if I used a box at all it was either just for a 2- or 3-year-old younger sibling who wanted to feel involved in the whole violin endeavour but wasn't ready for lessons, or to get started with kids who had an instrument on order.

But my mom moved to my town a few years ago and I had the privilege of watching her work with four new little beginners from the very beginning, and to follow them as they learned all the pre-Twinkle tasks. One had had a violin to play with for the previous six months and the other three started lessons afresh. All were on boxes for the first 12 lessons (they had two 45 minute lessons a week together as a small group, and their parents also got 30 minutes a week of instruction / support separately) and then moved to regular private lessons on a real violin. I'm now totally sold on the idea of starting on a box.

The kid who had had a violin at home had all the typical challenges of learning things which were awkward and unintuitive. Because her 'real violin' was so much fun to scrub around on, she had spent time doing so without first spending the requisite time mastering basic posture. So at the first lesson she was the kid whose box kept ending up in front of her shoulder, rather than atop it. She was the kid who grabbed the frog of the bow and had to be encouraged for weeks to soften her hand and not grab. She was the one whose bow arm moved side to side with a stiff elbow when she tried to "bow" the rhythms on her shoulder. These are all very typical issues with little beginners. I thought that teaching the proper way to do all these things was just the normal big challenge of teaching beginners.

But the three other kids (two of whom were very challenging personalities, I might add, so not all-round 'easy' kids) had almost none of these problems. Because the box presented no temptation to do more than what had been taught, they learned those first tasks beautifully on the first pass. They didn't try things their way and learn them wrong and then have to be taught to unlearn that way and relearn a new way ... because there wasn't the allure of scrubbing away on a real instrument to draw them forward.

So I think there is a very strong pedagogical argument for teaching a child on a box for a while at the beginning. My mom had been telling me so for years, but I had to see it in action to believe her. Particularly if it's possible to set up a situation where the child has a small cohort of peers doing the same, so that he doesn't feel like he is the only one now "allowed" a real violin, and the use of the box has feels normal to him.

RiverMama, I'm surprised you've never heard of a box. The use of a box in the early stages has been part of all the beginner level (1A) Suzuki teacher training courses I've done.

Miranda
post #124 of 459
Quote:
Originally Posted by greencat View Post
If you can find a decent 1/32, and the child is willing to take lessons, I think being able to work with the real violin is a way to go. (However, 1/32 is small enough, and I really don’t see a value in using or trying to find the ‘insane’ 1/64.)
We looked at a 1/32 violin today, my mom just had to see how long 'till it would fit my DD!

Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
So I think there is a very strong pedagogical argument for teaching a child on a box for a while at the beginning. My mom had been telling me so for years, but I had to see it in action to believe her. Particularly if it's possible to set up a situation where the child has a small cohort of peers doing the same, so that he doesn't feel like he is the only one now "allowed" a real violin, and the use of the box has feels normal to him.

RiverMama, I'm surprised you've never heard of a box. The use of a box in the early stages has been part of all the beginner level (1A) Suzuki teacher training courses I've done.

Miranda
I have a friend who has a violin shop, he was telling my mom about boxes reciently, she had never herd of them either. I was raised suzuki, (& her allong w/ me) but we are both kind of unothodox teachers. We will use suzuki material & methods, but lots of other stuff as well, & we both teach reading & theory from the get go. Also, most of my students are older, & interested in fiddling. My mom teaches public school, & does private lessons on the side. Her main focus has been Mariachi believe it or not. (she lives in New Mexico) Most of what I play now is Celtic, but will teach anything a student is interested in, and have myself floated through just about every genra there is.
post #125 of 459
I like to start my students on 'practice violins.' It gives them a chance to master sidedness. The left and right sides have such completely different tasks. Then they can focus on making a beautiful sound when they do have a real violin.

My younger students stay on the box until they master the Twinkle rhythms with elbow action. I like to use the Foam-a-lins that Young Musician carries. They are sturdy, and are shaped like real violins.

If I have a student who is losing interest in the box, I will try to move them on to the real violin more quickly.

When I start older beginners, I use other tools to help them master 'elbow action' bow arm. I use a paper towel tube and an old Glasser bow to make a 'straight bow machine.' The student threads the bow through the tube, then puts the tube on the left shoulder. The tube shows them how to open the elbow hinge instead of sawing.

I have to say, my own kids have no interest in the practice violin. They want the real thing!
post #126 of 459
Quote:
Originally Posted by ebethmom View Post
I use a paper towel tube and an old Glasser bow to make a 'straight bow machine.' The student threads the bow through the tube, then puts the tube on the left shoulder. The tube shows them how to open the elbow hinge instead of sawing.
Hey! That's a darn good idea! I like that!
post #127 of 459
Quote:
Originally Posted by RiverMamma View Post
Hey! That's a darn good idea! I like that!
I'm trying to remember where I saw this first . . . I think my friend Peggy Crowe used it. We were grad students together at Northern Illinois.

One tip, I do use an old worn out bow since the paper towel tubes are hard on bow hair. Also, a bow with fresh horse hair makes an scritchy sound that drives me nuts. It feels a little like fingernails on a chalkboard. (shivers)

I've been trying a new trick lately for students who are "elbow-action challenged." I tried out a happynex sling a few weeks ago and liked it pretty well. It's just a stretchy piece of cloth that ties in a knot. You thread it under the tailpiece or chinrest, then put your right arm through the loop so the sling holds your instrument on your shoulder. Your head and left hand are free of any holding responsibility.

I have a few students who just struggle with the bow arm action. I've had them rig a sling like happynex (little girl tights work well!). With the sling, you can lift your head and watch your right arm without adding any left hand tension.

For my own playing, I like to use the happynex every now and then. It is freeing to play without having to hold on anywhere. But the sling makes my right shoulder a bit sore. I wouldn't want to wear it in rehearsal, since my instrument would be up on my shoulder the entire time.

Now someone needs to figure out a sling that distributes the weight more evenly, instead of just around the right shoulder. I've found that if I loop the sling around my right breast, it's more comfortable. But that look is NOT going public!! I've thought about sewing a sling into a bra, then pulling the loop through the shirt neckhole. Probably something else that I wouldn't feel comfortable using outside my own practice room.
post #128 of 459
Hi! I am new to this thread. I wish I had known about this before!!!!

Dd is 5 and has been in Suzuki violin since she was 3.5. She started on a box Then she moved on to a 1/32 violin. Our program rents the instruments out as part of the lesson cost and they have several 1/32 violins. They advocate starting kids out at age 3, so there was a need. You are all right though, the D and G strings were pretty much unresponsive. Dd has been on a 1/16th for the last several months (she is a really tiny 5yo) and it is MUCH easier on the ears. So it has been 1.5 years and she is nearing the end of Book 1 (Minuet 2 right now).

There was no "shopping around" for teachers or programs here. We only have one. Luckily, we are happy with our arrangement. Our program does begin music reading earlier than most Suzuki programs so dd is in the Reading Orchestra this year.

My only issue with the program is how intensive it is. We are unschoolers so it is not like we have a lot of other things to do every week, but it just seems a little over scheduled for a 5yo. Each week dd has a 45 minute lesson, an one hour long orchestra practice, and at least one other thing. The "other thing" is a recital, recital practice, concert, concert practice, or "playing out" at a nursing home, event, or school. Add one hour of daily practice and it seems to be a very very big commitment. I cannot imagine throwing in school or any other activities with it.

Dd LOVES it though. I never "make" her do anything, let alone an optional instrument practice, but she is eager for violin time every day and gets totally geeked about going to lessons. I play the clarinet in our local symphony orchestra and dh plays drums in a rock band so she has been surrounded by music from day one.
post #129 of 459
Welcome Yooper! How fun to hear about another "senior little one" playing in an orchestra. My 5yo just started in an orchestra this past week and is thrilled. She's been waiting to be part of orchestra for at least two years. She's only playing 3 of the shorter easier pieces of the orchestra's larger repertoire but she's working eagerly away at them.

I agree that the scheduling and structure can seem like a lot to unschoolers. It only works for us because it's really the only structured thing we do. Your dd sounds like she has even more than mine, though. Our lessons are only 30 minutes, and group class and orchestra alternate weeks. Recitals come up only once or twice a year (we have no accompanist in the region) and group ensemble performances maybe four or five times a year. So not too much extra stuff. Though she's recently started piano ... and that's adding a new layer.

Miranda
post #130 of 459

workbook review

It seems many Suzuki moms here on MDC like "I can read music."
My DD is working on its first book, and enjoys it a lot.

I purchased "Beginner Violin Theory for Children" by Melanie Smith for my DS who is 4, and its second book for my DD who is 6. This is a workbook to practice writing music symbols, etc. These workbooks are really easy, and you can zip through the whole book quickly, if you'd like. However, we are taking our time to appreciate each page.

We also have "Theory for Young Musicians, Games and Exercises to Enhance Music Skills" by Carla Ulbrich. It has many fun games that are perfect to use in a group.

I felt "All for Strings, Theory Workbook 1" by Gerald E. Anderson and Robert S. Frost is better for older children. It is written for string students, but got complicated fast; too fast for my 6.

We've had "Theory Time" for a long time, but just starting to get into it now. This workbook was hard for me to use, since I never studied piano. However, it became less intimidating, after we worked on "Naming White Keys" and "Lines and Spaces Note Speller" which are mini series of workbooks for piano students from Meil A Kjos Music Company. There are 6 thin workbooks for beginner piano students: Very easy to use, and they were perfect for us to start piano which now also helps with Theory Time and understanding key signatures. (by the way, I just ordered flash cards for key signatures from Alfred Publishing. I'll write my review on this later.)

Over the summer, I bought "Disney Solos for Violin." This music book came with a CD that you can choose a track 'with melody cue' or 'accompaniment only'. My DD does not play with the CD, since it is too fast for her, yet. However, she loves the fact that she can play her favorite Disney Princess music on her own violin now. We used this book for her to practice reading music. A bit of fun added, away from Suzuki for the summer while we had no group lessons. I chose this book because she likes Disney Princess, the music was written for violin, and came with accompaniment CD.
post #131 of 459
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
Welcome Yooper! How fun to hear about another "senior little one" playing in an orchestra. My 5yo just started in an orchestra this past week and is thrilled. She's been waiting to be part of orchestra for at least two years. She's only playing 3 of the shorter easier pieces of the orchestra's larger repertoire but she's working eagerly away at them.

I agree that the scheduling and structure can seem like a lot to unschoolers. It only works for us because it's really the only structured thing we do. Your dd sounds like she has even more than mine, though. Our lessons are only 30 minutes, and group class and orchestra alternate weeks. Recitals come up only once or twice a year (we have no accompanist in the region) and group ensemble performances maybe four or five times a year. So not too much extra stuff. Though she's recently started piano ... and that's adding a new layer.

Miranda
I am coming to grips with it. It is the only major structured activity we do. Dd is also in an ice skating class that I REALLY wish she would lose interest in. It is at a bad time for our family and I have nightmares about her turning into one of those skating divas that need to be at the cold rink at 4am: Not really a legitimate fear....but yeah.

Maybe I am just a slacker

Anyway, dd had a recital last night. It was a Halloween recital and they had to wear their costumes. Dd was a ghost and I was terrified that she would not be able to see well and trip on the way to the stage. All was fine though. She could not make eye contact with the accompanist so that was tricky, but she got through it OK. I love watching the really little ones do their Twinkles. There was also one girl that graduated from book 10 recently that did an unaccompanied Mendelson concerto that was quite impressive. They did their recital at a nursing home so there was a HUGE crowd. Good practice.

I have to take dd to my own orchestra practice next week because dh will be out of town on business and we could not find a sitter. It might be fun for her to sit in the wind section and see what it is like to be in a big orchestra.
post #132 of 459
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
They did their recital at a nursing home so there was a HUGE crowd. Good practice.
Great idea!
post #133 of 459
It is actually a perfect option. Most nursing homes have a large dining room (or other large room) with plenty of chairs, a tuned piano, a very appreciative audience, and the space is free

We have about half of our events in nursing homes.
post #134 of 459
Thread Starter 
I agree - what a great idea for a recital venue! I'm going to mention that to our teacher.

I'm currently dealing with the issue of learning bowing. DD can pick things up very very quickly by ear. As a result, she stars playing pieces of pieces that are down the road - sometimes much further down the road. It's been cute and fun and I've enjoyed hearing her, but we've had some issues with having to "relearn" the bowing parts of pieces. It's tough! She already knows the notes and frankly doesn't seem to care one whit about the bowing.

It's gotten to the point that I'm not playing the upcoming recorded pieces for her because I'm afraid she's going to jump ahead while I'm doing dishes or something and I won't get a chance to help her with the bowing.

To be honest this "fixing the bow" part exhausts me!
post #135 of 459
Is it possible to look at the bowings ahead of time and play singing games with them? Dd likes to singing the songs either the the notes or the bowings in the tune. Like in Minuet I she sings "D D D" or "down up-up down....." It sounds complicated but it gets catchy after awhile. "Jingle Bells" and "Carole of the Bells" are especially fun when singing the bowings.....can you tell we are working on the Holiday concert music? I catch myself doing it and I am not a string player.....
post #136 of 459
How do you like the "Suzuki Journal," the bi-monthly mag from SAA?
post #137 of 459
There are always great articles in the SAA quarterly journal. I wish all of my students' parents would read it!

There have been times when I had to let my SAA membership lapse. Just couldn't fit it in the budget! I really missed getting the journal during those times. It helps me stay connected with the rest of the Suzuki community.
post #138 of 459
Hello everyone,

I'm not a true Suzuki mama but I'm hoping someone here can maybe help me. My 9yo dd started piano in September this year with a teacher who is very Suzuki inspired in her methods.

She's been playing Cuckoo and Lightly Row with both hands for the last few weeks and the thing we're working on this week is playing the right hand louder than the left one. So far, she's having no luck managing that and I'm wondering if any of you have tips on how to break it down. I've been having her playing both hands lightly thinking it's probably easier to increase the intensity on one side than decrease it on one side but I don't play myself so I don't know if it's a good approach or if there is a better way to get where we want to go.

Any tips?
post #139 of 459
Quote:
Originally Posted by Malva View Post
the thing we're working on this week is playing the right hand louder than the left one. So far, she's having no luck managing that and I'm wondering if any of you have tips on how to break it down.
My dd (5) has been doing piano for a couple of months. My 14yo has been doing piano for almost 9 years but her beginnings were so long ago that I forget how this was introduced. My 5yo's teacher has had her practice just two notes (say, middle C with 3rd finger LH and treble C one octave up with 3rd finger RH) at the same time. The aim at first was to have one C speak and the other C key move a little but not speak. That took a week of solid work to get it consistent. Once she could do this reliably with all finger combinations and then again with the opposite C speaking, she was to make one C speak and the other C 'whisper'. She's still working on that, although she's keen on this whole skill and is also trying to get the same effect into a basic hands-in-parallel five-finger exercise, with partial success.

Miranda
post #140 of 459
Hi!
I just wanted to drop a note to say that we've finally come out of our rut! All it took was a Thanksgiving concert on the table after dinner and Jingle Bells. We may struggle with Lightly Row forever, but at least he's having fun, and sounding good again. Oh, and we went to see a great bluegrass band with a crazy fiddle player who just happened to teach Suzuki and was able to inspire him during the break. She gave me some great advice and said that we're kidding ourselves if we think the child believes that Lightly Row is great music. We've got to play them great music and explain that they need to get THROUGH LR to get to the good stuff. That approach really resonated with Gus. We've ordered the second CD for expanded listening and I hope to add 3 and 4 as well.
Hope to hear more from others, its inspiring and fun.
Shana:
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