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Stacymom's Avatar Stacymom 03:25 AM 03-06-2009
PiePie, take this for what its worth... I worked in music retail for 10 years, and there is nothing more difficult than finding good, playable tiny cellos. Little violins are much easier to come by. You can find cellos once they get to about an 1/4 size or so fairly easily, but before that, its really touch and go. Not that I don't think cello is cool, but it would be harder to start a really young child on cello. Have you observed any lessons? Do you have a teacher in mind? You might want to talk with a teacher and see what they say as well.

And Mayday, I don't have a lot of experience with Suzuki piano, but I know that its really popular here, and there's tons of little ones playing. Again, just find a good, experienced teacher, and you can be on your way!

Whistler's Avatar Whistler 11:15 PM 03-06-2009
Originally Posted by Stacymom View Post
So who all is doing institutes this summer? I just registered for ISSI in SLC Ut for the third year in a row. Its going to be a trick getting ready for it, because her teacher wanted us to push her a little bit and enroll her in a book 4 class, even though she's not yet finished with book 3. I'm ok with it because her teacher is the institute director, but I'm feeling the Seitz concerto pressure! Where's everyone going this year?
I wanted to get to either the institute in Tri-Cities or the one in BC last summer but it did not happen. This summer it may not happen either because of the new baby. But who knows??? I love to go to one, it just means traveling 4 to seven hours to get there, depending which we choose.
Bird Girl's Avatar Bird Girl 02:54 AM 03-11-2009
We decided against the Salt Lake City (Intermountain) institute this year because my DD is the only one ready for it. Next year, my son will be ready to go, too, so we think we'll start next year. (My dd will probably still be in book 4, so plenty of stuff to work on.) We've gone every year to our tiny local institute, at Crowden School in Berkeley, CA, and it's always great and amazing. There's something about working every day for four days that really takes you to the next level, or at least, that's what my DD has found.
moominmamma's Avatar moominmamma 03:23 PM 03-12-2009
We are lucky to have our very own institute right in our village (the one in BC that Whistler mentioned). My four kids will be attending; it's the fifth year for the elder ones, and the third year for my 6yo being fully enrolled. They love it, even though (or perhaps partly because) it's small and predictable and they're pretty much the most advanced kids.

We also have a traditional (non-Suzuki) music school here for two weeks afterwards and my eldest two usually do orchestra and chamber music there, everyone does a choir, and my youngest and eldest will also be doing the piano master classes.

Because we are rural and isolated from a significant musical community most of the year, summers are our chance to bring the masses to us and fill up our musical tanks. We pack as much in as we can. Last year my eldest did an additional two Suzuki institutes (Montreal and Edmonton) during July as well.

greencat's Avatar greencat 06:45 PM 03-21-2009
It's hard to leave a teacher who nurtured you, and grew under. Yet, the tough part is meeting a new teacher and finding the harmony. We are transferring this Fall to a new music school. Any advice?
Tassy's Avatar Tassy 03:31 AM 03-26-2009
Yikes. This is so much harder than finding a violin was....I am not having any fun or luck. She has her heart set on cello and I didnt realize that I am going to have to shell out $500 just to get started! She has been going to music classes with the instructor and has used the xylophone and the 1/8 that the teacher has which is too big (she just turned 4)

Does anyone have any suggestions???


DS 7.5 (3.5 yrs on the violin) DD 4, twin DDs 2
megincl's Avatar megincl 09:13 AM 03-26-2009
We rent our cello and started with a 1/10 size. We're close to Johnson Strings, who do a huge rental business. I know that they ship rentals, so you might want to check them out.

Good luck!
ebethmom's Avatar ebethmom 04:38 AM 03-29-2009
Originally Posted by Stacymom View Post
So who all is doing institutes this summer? Where's everyone going this year?
We're going to Stevens Point! I'm doing a unit of teacher training. Just found out today that I got a scholarship!! Yea!!

I think my family will join me for one week. I'm not sure how we'll work that yet. I'd like to stay for the second week and take the Practicum course, but I'm not sure we can swing that and tuition for ds. If I take the Practicum, then dh would have to go to ds's classes with dd in tow.

I added up all of the options tonight. All of them are pretty expensive, even with a scholarship. But I'm so excited about going! I went to Stevens Point four summers when I was a kid. I have great memories! Lots of my teacher friends will be there, too.

I'm also teaching at the Louisville Institute in June. That should be fun. One of my good friends is teaching there, too.

Kind of a strange summer, teaching at one Institute and still doing teacher training at another. I've done that before, and it's just an odd mix. I wish I had been able to complete my training back when I wanted to. I was cooking right along, then life (kids!) got in the way.
Stacymom's Avatar Stacymom 01:30 PM 03-29-2009
Elizabeth, that's awesome! What unit are you taking? I feel ya- I did five units in one calendar year, and haven't been able to do any since. I would really like to get book 6 out of the way, and Ed Sprunger (who's one of my favorites) is doing a teacher training course this year at ISSI on group classes, which would be fantastic. The problem is, my 7 year old is doing the book 4 class, my 5 year old will be in the daycare, and my 7 month old will be 6 weeks post-op. Yeah, not the ideal year for me to be taking more teacher training courses...

Yup, institute is expensive! I'm fortunate that I do a little bit of work for ours, so I get a tuition voucher in exchange. But, we still have to pay for daycare, meals, and her extra classes. Plus, since we moved last year, we're going ot have to spend the week of Institute at my parent's house. Its going to be an interesting week!
ebethmom's Avatar ebethmom 06:25 PM 03-29-2009
Hi Stacy! I'm taking (mumble, mumble). Ah-hem, Unit 4. I feel so far behind! Especially since I'm teaching kids in Book 6!

Five units in one year! That's intense! I took three units one summer, and that was information overload. When I win the Powerball, I'll probably get a Master's in Suzuki Pedagogy just for fun.

Ed Sprunger is teaching Book 4 at Stevens Point, then he's doing the Practicum during the second week. I would love to do both! But I just don't think we can swing it.

I looked up the tuition/fees/room&board for Ottawa (Sound Encounters) this morning. It is far more reasonable. One of my friends is teaching Book 4 there. I think Ottawa might be a little bit closer, too.

I'm also trying to figure out my summer performance schedule. I'll have to give up a few weddings for Ottawa or Stevens Point. But I'd rather not give up a show!
moominmamma's Avatar moominmamma 03:23 PM 03-30-2009
Originally Posted by ebethmom View Post
Hi Stacy! I'm taking (mumble, mumble). Ah-hem, Unit 4. I feel so far behind! Especially since I'm teaching kids in Book 6!
Well, if it makes you feel any better I've taught kids up through Book 8, and have taught at institutes, and I only have Units 1A/1B.

I've taken 1A three times and 1B twice, plus Ed Sprunger's overview of Books 1-4, plus I've taught alongside and co-taught with my mom, who is an SAA teacher trainer, for the past 10 years. But we've never formalized it as a "practicum" arrangement, so my registered teacher training stops at Gossec Gavotte.

We live many many hours away from institutes that offer teacher training, and when we have managed to go I've been the solo Suzuki parent to at least two enrolled children (dh cannot ever get time off in the summer) so I cannot possibly do teacher training at the same time.

So there you go. You're far ahead of me with your units.

Mary-Beth's Avatar Mary-Beth 10:54 AM 04-05-2009
Is this thread still active??

My dd has just polished up Gavotte and has been reviewing all of book 1 (well we always do...but more so now) We are going to have a party to celebrate but I'm not sure how to do this exactly.
I don't have a piano or much space for a recital but she would like to play a few pieces.
Has anyone else had a graduation celebration after book 1?
ebethmom's Avatar ebethmom 02:09 PM 04-06-2009
Hi Mary Beth! You might see if your dd's teacher could attend and play duets.

In our program, we have Book Recitals several times a year. We usually have 4 - 8 kids who are finishing up a book. Each performer plays several pieces, then we have a short awards ceremony. Then we have cookies and punch!
Mary-Beth's Avatar Mary-Beth 03:00 PM 04-06-2009
That sounds great. I wish our teacher did that...she just leaves it up to the parents to have a party. The other kids moving onto book 2 from our group class (different teacher) aren't doing anything to celebrate. I wish there would be something for all the kids like you described.
I'm trying to find a date to have a party that our teacher can come to. If we manage that I'll see if she'll play some duets.
Thanks for the ideas!
Qbear'smama's Avatar Qbear'smama 02:40 PM 04-09-2009
Originally Posted by Tassy View Post
the 1/8 that the teacher has which is too big (she just turned 4)
Maybe try looking for a 1/10? DD got her cello last night (luckily the school has loaners) and they had a 1/8 and a 1/10 cello to choose from. The teacher said 1/16s are very hard to come by, but I don't know if a 1/10 would be easier to find and may fit your DD. DD is tall for her age (3 in 11 days) so she could have used either one but the teacher opted for the 1/8. Good luck!
Stacymom's Avatar Stacymom 04:20 AM 04-10-2009
Small cellos are such a saga!

Here's something to be aware of- violin sizes are standard. You get a 1/4 size, and they are all going to be the same size across the board. But cellos are all different. German, Korean, European cellos are all larger than their Japanese counterparts. So, if you were to get a Japanese 1/8th and a German 1/8th, they would look like different sized cellos. Depending on how picky your teacher is and how music savvy your music store is, you may change cellos more than once within the same size. In other words, you may have a Japanese 1/8th, then need to move to a European 1/8th before moving to the 1/4 size.

You could try looking online, although please don't go the ebay route! You could try Shar or Southwest Strings- both of them are pretty reputable.
honeybee's Avatar honeybee 10:48 PM 05-03-2009
My son is 5 and just started Suzuki violin this past January. He just started playing the bunny song and is pretty excited about it. However, the first recital is in a couple weeks, and he is already telling me he doesn't want to do a performance. We did convince him to play for his aunt and uncle the other night and he did really well, and seemed pleased when they clapped and told him he did a good job. Anyone have thoughts on how to prepare him? I didn't expect him to get cold feet. He has sung with church and with his preschool class for concerts and didn't have a problem at all.
Bird Girl's Avatar Bird Girl 08:18 PM 05-09-2009
My dd was very anxious before her first couple of recitals and play-ins. We just assured her that she would be standing up with her friends, that even if she made a mistake she should just keep going, and that most likely, no one in the audience would hear or notice it. It helped her to point out mistakes in other kids' performances and notice how no one in the audience seemed to pay any attention to them. She got through the first couple of times, and then the anxiety really seemed to lessen.

Hope that helps.
honeybee's Avatar honeybee 10:15 PM 05-09-2009
Thanks! He played for his group class today and seemed to gain confidence from it. It probably helped that the other kids didn't play perfectly, either. I think he'll gain confidence each time he gets a chance to practice.
insahmniak's Avatar insahmniak 04:36 PM 05-22-2009
Pizzicato advice?

DD's just finishing up Gavotte from Mignon and is getting pretty frustrated with the pizzicato at the end. She has done it without the bow and is comfortable with the notes and chords. But when we add the bow all heck breaks loose and we're quickly into tears.

I'm watching her bow hold when she goes to pluck and am trying to figure out how to help her transition the bow. Any suggestions? Her little finger just seems so small and getting a good pluck across all those four strings is a challenge for her. She has a pretty darn good bow hold, but I'm guessing it's still not as strong as it could be. Is there a trick I'm missing or is this just going to take a lot of time and happy thoughts?
Stacymom's Avatar Stacymom 07:07 PM 05-22-2009
Does your teacher want her to anchor her bow thumb against the fingerboard or let her hand be free? If she anchors her thumb on the corner of the fingerboard, then it will give her first finger more strength to pluck. I always tell my kids that your making "pincher" fingers when you pluck, and you need to make sure to roll your frog all the way into your hand. You can practice just rolling the bow in and out, in and out until she can do it really quickly.

Another thought: make sure she is plucking over the fingerboard, at a diagonal. As she strums the last two chords, she should start at the corner of the fingerboard when on the G string, and then pluch on a diagonal away from the bridge (towards the scroll) and that will help it be more ringing.

Also, make sure she's using the fat, fleshy part of her first finger instead of the tip. Hope that helps. It's super hard to explain over the internet, so let me know if you have more questions.
insahmniak's Avatar insahmniak 09:11 PM 05-22-2009
I'm pretty sure her teacher wants her to just stick her index finger out and pluck, keeping the bow hand fairly unchanged. Seems like a tall order for a not-quite six year old, but I'm a softie like that.
moominmamma's Avatar moominmamma 02:27 PM 05-23-2009
It's a tough thing, isn't it? Fiona had to grapple with it at age 4, and she has floppy lax little-kid joints. We practiced a lot of Twinkle Theme and Perpetual Motion pizzicato. These were especially challenging on the lower strings where she really had to hyper-flex the wrist in order to allow her index finger to reach over the strings and grab the D and G.

I remember she had a surprisingly easy time tunnelling her left hand fingers in the B-flat section, leaving the 3&4 down on the A whilst playing the F-natural low-1 on the E-string in the first sixteenth notes in that section. Her big sister was newly 6 when she worked on that and it was months before she could do it properly. I remembered thinking "this is too much more a 6-year-old," but her teacher expected it, and eventually she could do it. And then Fiona did it easily at 4.

So while I think age plays into the amount of challenge these technical passages present, it's not the whole story, and a cheerful persistence and belief that it's possible goes a long way. Good luck, and good cheer!

ebethmom's Avatar ebethmom 11:01 PM 05-23-2009
Stacy and Miranda - do you teach pizzicato with the frog held in the palm? I've always taught that hold with the thumb anchored on the fingerboard, at least in the beginning. I have my students do back and forth exercises (regular bow hold to 'crab pincher' pizzicato bow hold). For me, pizz is easier with an anchored thumb.
Stacymom's Avatar Stacymom 02:18 AM 05-24-2009
I teach that section in Mignon with the frog anchored in the hand. I just figure, if I were playing it, I would roll my bow in. Especially since its at the end of the piece, and they don't have to go back to arco, they may as well anchor their thumb to get a stronger more ringing pizzicato. My daughter's teacher teaches it the opposite, however. I think its just one of those interpretation things. Regardless of which way you play it though, if you use the fat part of the finger, over the fingerboard, and strum diagonally, you'll get a better sound.

And Miranda, I know what you mean- I am astounded at what my little gir can do. I dreaded Mignon, and we conquered it in two weeks with minimal fuss. I've been dreading the Bach Bouree, but we're almost done with that, and she's playing it brilliantly. I love the way the Suzuki method works when all the pieces are in place. I can't believe how easily and smoothly she learns.
honeybee's Avatar honeybee 06:12 PM 05-28-2009
Originally Posted by honeybee View Post
Thanks! He played for his group class today and seemed to gain confidence from it. It probably helped that the other kids didn't play perfectly, either. I think he'll gain confidence each time he gets a chance to practice.
Just a little update. My son's recital went very well. He is very proud of himself, and now he wants to perform for everyone he can. He has also had another spurt of wanting to practice a lot. Things seem to be coming together more. He was getting really reluctant to practice before his recital, but now he's asking to play again.
insahmniak's Avatar insahmniak 10:00 PM 05-28-2009
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

So while I think age plays into the amount of challenge these technical passages present, it's not the whole story, and a cheerful persistence and belief that it's possible goes a long way. Good luck, and good cheer!

She did it! Well, I mean she's doing it. We backed up and she practiced the pizzicato part without the bow until she had it down absolutely cold. Then she started with the bow hold - index finger extended. Now she's doing it quite well and it's honestly quite an impressive ending.

She's been practicing the accidental and key-change parts very slowly, over and over, for intonation. So now when she plays the whole piece we have some tempo issues. Our next step is to continue the intonation work but work toward an even tempo throughout.

Two weeks! That does seem astounding! Mignon has been one of the slogging pieces for us with all those fingers moving near and far. I'm looking ahead to the rest of book 2 with trepidation on the inside and a cheerful "I think I can" on the outside.

I'm happy for you that son seems to have turned a corner with his interest in performance and play. I'm a huge fan of regular recitals and performance. I think it worked wonders for me as a young violinist - so I tend to give it lots of credit. We moved to a new home with a fairly undeveloped backyard, and I'm considering building a small stage/amphitheater in one corner, with power and light to it. Wouldn't that be fun?!
honeybee's Avatar honeybee 12:29 AM 05-29-2009
Oooh, outdoor concerts at home sound great!

I've been evesdropping on all your technical conversations, and I admit it's making me feel a little intimidated! But I figure, we'll just take it one step at a time.
Stacymom's Avatar Stacymom 01:19 AM 05-29-2009
Originally Posted by insahmniak View Post
Two weeks! That does seem astounding! Mignon has been one of the slogging pieces for us with all those fingers moving near and far. I'm looking ahead to the rest of book 2 with trepidation on the inside and a cheerful "I think I can" on the outside.
You know, Mignon went surprisingly fast, but we spent a long time on the Minuets at the end of Book 2. Then the first couple of book 3's were quick, and we spent f.o.r.e.v.e.r. on Humoresque. Part of the problem was that we trasferred to a new teacher during that time, and after Abby had completely learned and memorized it, we had to re-learn it with all the revised edition shifts. Then I had a baby and fell off the face of the earth for a month, and we had to learn a whole bunch of Christmas songs for her new studio. So we were stuck. For months. I still cringe hearing it. But then I was dreading Becker Gavotte, and it was nothing. I dunno. Sometimes, especially as a teacher, I dread pieces that are upcoming because students have struggled on it, but Abby will blow by it like its nothing.

Are you headed to to ISSI this year? She'll probably hear the Minuets so much at institute that she'll blow past them without any trouble.
ebethmom's Avatar ebethmom 01:49 AM 05-29-2009
I just got my first-draft schedule for my week of Institute teaching, and my big groups are Twinklers and PreTwinklers. I had the year off from teaching little bitties (my first in many years!) so now I have to dust off my "bag o'many tricks"! Teaching big groups of wigglers is part music lesson, part magic show.

Here is my list of activities so far :

Gummy lifesavers on the tip (bow control)
The Rocket Song
Tall Violin parade
Bow Hold parade
"What's in the case" game
"What is this" scale singing for parts of violin and bow
Magnetic fishing game (each fish has a variation with illustrations)
Memory Match (with simple activities like "Clap tucka tucka stop stop")
Hide the Turtle (hot and cold game)
Reading Zin, Zin, Zin a Violin (or not, depending on the group!)
Name that Tune

Hopefully the PreTwinklers will all know the Monkey Song and the Flower Song.

And of course playing what they know with activities for ensemble. I don't need any refresher for those! I just need to remember what kind of bunnies I have in my hat.
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