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Suzuki Mamas Tribe - Page 2

post #21 of 459
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Miranda. I'll return the old version.
post #22 of 459
Wanted to correct what I wrote above ... the revised Book 3 is now out, as of about a month ago. The main difference is the inverted bowing in the Bach Gavotte (which is how I've been teaching the piece for years (makes much more sense) and the option of numerous shifts and ornaments in various pieces. Oh, and the note errors in the Bach Bourrée have been corrected so that the piece now matches the viola edition.

post #23 of 459
Wow how cool to see this thread! I'm a professional violinist, I began with the Suzuki method when I was 3 (actually 2 months before my 4th birthday). And now I make my living playing, so there, it can work! I also taught book 1 when I was in high school.

Good for all of you, getting your kids interested in it. It's soooo good for them. My hubby can't wait to start our son (who's 6 months, a little young yet) on something, we don't know what yet.

Oh, I also took Suzuki piano from my mom starting when I was... um... 8, maybe? That didn't work too well because I would argue with her, so she found me another piano teacher. I played for 8 years and finally quit, my focus was more on violin.

Nice to meet y'all!
post #24 of 459
Another Suzuki person here, I started violin at 3 and switched to viola in highschool.

I just started my 4 year old on violin.

I'll write more later but I wanted to say hello
post #25 of 459
Hi there. I am brand new here.

My DD is 4 and we want to start on violin lessons soon. Her grandmother made her the most beautiful violin for her birthday (which she loves to play and knows how to hold correctly). I would love recommendations on how to find a great Suzuki teacher. We're in Lexington, KY

thanks in advance!

post #26 of 459
Hi Kirsten, welcome. Do you mean her grandmother made her a real violin, or a "box violin"? Just curious.

When I grew up (30+ years ago) there was a very strong Suzuki program in Lexington. Kay Collier-Slone who was the renowned 'expert' teacher trainer at dealing with very young pre-Twinklers got her start in that program and many excellent students, including her daughters, whom I grew up playing quartets with at summer institutes, came out of it. I would imagine there's still a sizeable program in your area, though I don't know for sure.

The solution to finding a great Suzuki teacher is to go and observe lessons. All Suzuki teachers should welcome/encourage this enthusiastically as it's a cornerstone of "getting ready" for families, and no teacher worth her salt wants to take on new students who don't fully understand the commitment expected and style of teaching -- before committing. Watch your prospective teacher in individual lessons with students in their first couple of years of study, especially those who are your child's age or just a little older. Feel the chemistry in the room, look for shifts in teaching style that respond to differing needs, and pay attention to how well the children play for their level. Not how advanced they are, but how good they look and sound playing at whatever level they're learning. Attending a recital can give you a good sense of the overall results of the teaching, as well as giving you a glimpse of the flavour of the studio community.

As well, a Suzuki teacher should have SAA-approved teacher training at least up to the Unit 4 level ... and a commitment to ongoing professional development, say, by attending summer institutes and workshops with teacher trainers, etc..

post #27 of 459
Thread Starter 
Looking for ideas to help the left hand position.

We have a pretty severe case of guitar thumb going on. I'd like to see DD's had freed up more, the thumb come down a bit and straighten out, and more of a hole down there under the neck (of the violin).

Her wrist looks good and straight - not a lot of pancaking going on. But I'm guessing that her hand is supporting the violin almost completely.

I think her sponge/shoulder rest is inadequate but I don't know. I'm kind of scared to ask her to do the hands-free violin exercises because I have horrible cervial vertebra issues due to years of poor posture.

I should mention she's in a 1/10th and is using a simple gray sponge with rubber bands. I can't see how it's at all comfortable.

Any ideas?
post #28 of 459
Another "grown up" Suzuki kid here---I love seeing posts about the books and tiny violin sizes, it makes me miss playing. I started at 5, and played until I was 16. I loved it dearly, but didn't have the same discipline my peers did, and I became easily frustrated at not being "the best." We attended a Suzuki Instistute in Bristol, Virginia every summer and had such magical times. Good luck everyone who is starting out with it!
post #29 of 459

We're currently "on vacation" from suzuki lessons while the teacher is out of town and we decide where our motivations lie. I am glad to see this tribe here though, and loved seeing the suggestions in the other thread too!
post #30 of 459
I am a violist. I didn't learn with Suzuki method. I learned traditionally on viola. When I started teaching, about 12 years ago, I had to use Suzuki books and since then I've become familiar with the method, teaching lots of violin. I teach a mix of Suzuki and traditional teaching. My baby is not here yet but I definitely plan on starting her when she's 3 years old if she's ready. I'm glad to see this thread. I also think about becoming certified as a Suzuki teacher.
post #31 of 459
I'm going to take this opportunity to brag about my youngest. She broke her collarbone about 3 1/2 weeks ago and took some time off from violin (and soccer, and aikido, and most of the other things she turns her busy body to) as she recovered. Now that she's back at violin, things are really clicking for her. She's playing with much more ease, and her rudimentary vibrato has now become a decent usable beginner's vibrato -- even on 4th finger! I'm amazed with how she's progressing.

Anyone else find that sometimes a brief break helps consolidate learning and prepare the way for the next leap? I know that as good Suzuki parents we're supposed to make practicing as much a part of daily life as eating ... but this forced break has reminded me that much good can come of a little holiday.

post #32 of 459
Is this thread still active?
Mind if I hang around the edges of your tribe for a while? My 2 year old (nearly 26 months) is currently begging for a violin and we are pondering what to do. We're not quite sure she's ready yet but she's insistent. We are both musos but not string players so she has a keyboard set at the right height for her (weighted keys, after-touch etc), glockenspiels and every percussion instrument imaginable, a fife, tin whistles, recorder, my old "rubbish" clarinet plus a toy violin which has recently lost it's apeal. She wont settle for the fact that the sound is made by pushing a touch pad with the toy bow rather than bowing so she keeps making me get out mine (I can play anything in C, G or D that stays in first position ). Which means either I hold it & she bows or vice versa 'cause she's just too small.
WWYD? She's also asking for a trumpet but accepts the arguement that it's too heavy for her to hold right now so she'll need to wait a few years. A similar arguement doesn't work for violin because she knows they come in small sizes. I sound like I really don't want her to start playing yet, that's not true. I just want to make the "right" decision. YK?
post #33 of 459
Well, she may be too small. Playable violins smaller than 1/16th-size are pretty difficult to find. My dd started on a sorta-playable 1/32nd which we scoured the universe for, and stayed on that until she was almost 4, at which point she was big enough for a 1/16th, the smallest size normally available. So if your instinct is that she's not ready for lessons, you could quite honestly tell her (unless she's some great strapping youngster on the 99th percentile) that it turns out she'll have to be at least 3 to fit the smallest fractional violin.

As for lesson readiness, my own inclination is to wait until kids are 4 - 5. There's so much informal musical learning that can happen before that. Even structured informal learning. (Try looking into Alice Kay Kanack's "Musical Improvisation for Children" book and CD; I think it's fabulous!) Get copies of the Suzuki repertoire CDs, start listening every day, start attending group classes and lessons as observers. My favourite beginners to teach are the ones who have been attending classes as observers for up to a year beforehand. They've already learned so much, and they and their parents thoroughly understand the expectations that take root in a private lesson and group class environment.

That being said, my youngest started at not-quite-three, rather than age 4-5 as I'd intended. And she's done very well. She's incredibly focused and diligent, yet also emotionally resilient; it's a great combination for early formal instruction.

I'm meeting with a mom & daughter tomorrow about starting lessons in the fall -- the child turned four in April and while they've been observing classes on and off for 18 months, the child has only recently been able to understand that Suzuki violin expectations include not interrupting another child's lesson with questions and trying to get physically involved with the lesson, not squirming and chatting or laughing or wandering around. Nothing wrong with that sort of behaviour coming from a 3-year-old -- it's developmentally appropriate, but it's tough to run a goal-oriented private lesson or group class with a noisy preschooler moving around based on her own bio-developmental prerogative.

So you can get the best sense of her readiness by observing lessons. Not only will you be able to see what lessons are all about and develop a gut feeling about whether the structure will suit her, but by bringing her along you'll get a good sense of whether she can adapt to the behavioural expectations of a private lesson studio.

post #34 of 459
Thread Starter 
We just returned from a fabulous week at the Intermountain Suzuki Festival in Salt Lake City. It was such a wonderful experience that I thought I'd give it a plug in case anyone is considering participating in the future.

We personally had classes with four fantastic teachers from across the country - one from Sweden. My daughter was so excited to play for her teachers and with other kids during classes and en masse on stage. It was magical to see so many motivated and enthusiastic people in one place.

We're hoping to make it again next year and reunite with the friends we made.

This year was the 30th anniversary of the institute, and it seemed very well-run. We didn't experience any scheduling or logistical issues throughout the week, which is quite a lot to say considering the hundreds of participants.

IMO, the institute at SLC is well worth considering if you're in the western US and looking for a festival with a large draw.
post #35 of 459
Thanks for the response. We've been looking out for a 1/32 since she was about 16 months with no luck (really just to have around). I measured her chin to fingers the other day at 36cm, I think a 1/16 is around 35.5 so she's nearly big enough. That doesn't address the problem of whether I think she's ready or not, I'm just glad we wont have to really look for a 1/32 because they seemed to be as rare as hen's teeth.
My favourite beginners to teach are the ones who have been attending classes as observers for up to a year beforehand. They've already learned so much, and they and their parents thoroughly understand the expectations that take root in a private lesson and group class environment.
She's been observing me teach flute lessons & direct rehearsals since she was 12 weeks old, but that's a good point. I will ring a few Suzuki teachers and see if any would mind us observing (I'm just a bit scared it will make her even more desperate for a violin NOW despite size/maturity factors)
post #36 of 459
Originally Posted by insahmniak View Post
We just returned from a fabulous week at the Intermountain Suzuki Festival in Salt Lake City.
I've heard good things about that institute. Thanks for the report. Are the offerings for advanced students as robust as they make them out in the brochure? I'm looking ahead to 2009 for my elder two. They'll be 15 (violin) and well past the end of the Suzuki books and 12 (viola) and nearing the end of the Suzuki books. They live for chamber music, both of them.

Our own little Suzuki institute happens in early August. It's only in its 4th year -- though my mom, the director, started an institute on the other side of the country that's celebrating its 25th year now.


(thinking that at SLC for once she wouldn't be the only mom with four children registered)
post #37 of 459
I was at the instistute in SLC last week too, and I've been consistently for the past 9-10 years, sometimes taking teacher training, sometimes working, and for the past two years, taking my kiddos.

There is tons of stuff for advanced players- it really is amazing. They bring in masterclass teachers from everywhere (this year, I got to watch Jenny Oaks Baker) to teach the advanced kids. They have their own activities, and its not uncommon to see 12-13 year olds playing major concertos- Mendelson, Bruch, Lalo etc. They also recently started an intense "chamber days" program that starts a few days before the formal institute where the kids in quartets have 4 rehearsals daily with members of the Fry Street quartet, then they get to perform during insitute. I was super impressed witht he Fry Street this year, and heard a couple of their coached quartets, and for middle/high schoolers, I was impressed. I heard one student quartet do Beethoven Op 18, and one doing Dvorak's American, so the level of music is pretty high.

As far as violas go, we've had the Preucils for the past few years, and everyone has had wonderful things to say about them.

It really is well organzied and well run. There's two concerts every day, and they really are well put together. I haven't had a bad experience with a teacher yet, and I've been observing teachers for years. My dd cried at the end of institute this year, and told me she wished it would last a month!

And Miranda, you definitely wouldn't be the only one with four kids!
post #38 of 459
Are the sizes the same for all strings? DD is currently (not) using a 1/2 violin. She's decided that she would rather do cello. This would work well because I have and play cello, so maybe it would go more smoothly than violin as far as practicing goes. So should I be asking around for a 1/2 size cello?
post #39 of 459
No, the sizes are not the same, nor do all teachers 'size' kids the same way. It is my impression that overall cellists don't move up as quickly. So a child who fits a 1/2 size violin may still be too small for a 1/2 size cello.

Just as an aside, the largest double bass normally played is actually called a 3/4 bass. Violas are normally described according to their string length, although in the smaller sizes some makers use the violin sizes, except that after a 3/4, the child would then move to a 14" (the same size as a full-size violin, but not a full-size viola).

post #40 of 459
Just thought I'd update. We gave in and bought her a 1/16 violin and I've emailed a local teacher about observing group lessons. Actually it turns out there is a Suzuki festival on here right now (so I'm not expecting an immediate response to my email ) so I'm taking her to watch the finale concert on Wednesday.
IMO the 1/16 is too big as she can just grasp the scroll but can't cup it with her hand. I don't think we'll start lessons until she "fits" it properly but then again I'll see how she goes observing lessons. I'm hoping to talk to a few other teachers at the festival so we can hopefully observe more than one in the next six months or so and find someone who is a good fit for our family.
She's been so cute though, wanting to "Practice violin practice" constantly. Carefully opening the case, doing everything slowly and with great precision, then saying "Good night violin, have a nice sleep." when she puts it away again. Her practice last for about 30 seconds and consists of mainly getting it out and putting it away. If only more of my eight year old flute beginners had practised like that I wouldn't have been sending their instruments to the repair shop so often : in their first weeks.
My violin's also been restrung so I've been twinkling away
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