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#2001470 - 12/18/12 11:43 PM How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki?
asenicz Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/09
Posts: 4
Hi,

I've studied the posts on the Suzuki method, and read some books, including Studying Suzuki Piano. I understand the philosophy but have a question about how students actually learn the pieces. I realize they are listening to the CD frequently, and that they should begin with hands separate. If they don't pick it up by ear on their own, does the teacher show them the parts on the piano, step by step? How are the pieces actually learned during a lesson, especially for a student who doesn't easily pick up pieces by ear? The book points out that students should learn everything in a lesson and then practice what was learned at home, so I'm wondering how much teachers demonstrate the songs on the piano for their students.

For a little background, I was trained traditionally and am teaching my 6-year-old son. We've had great success so far with traditional methods but I want to be sure his ear training is strong, as this was always a weak point for me. So we are hoping to supplement with some Suzuki, and both pick up pieces by ear. We'll continue reading music at the same time with other pieces (as is recommended in Studying Suzuki Piano)

I'd also be curious to hear what folks think of the Music Tree series referenced in that book. So far we've used Music for Little Mozarts (when younger) and are now working through Piano Adventures (Primer). My son reads well, but needs some work developing ear/pitch.

Thanks in advance for any insight!

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#2001555 - 12/19/12 04:13 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
AZNpiano Online   happy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
Instead of wasting your time with the Suzuki method, try this:

http://pianoadventures.com/popups/goldstar/index.html

These books are awesome.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2001583 - 12/19/12 06:48 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
1. Not every good parent is also a good teacher of their own child.
2. There's more ways to strengthen ear training than Suzuki. There are lots of materials for this.
3. There is a website for Suzuki teachers and I'm sure you could post there and ask about Suzuki.
4. You won't be able to teach as a Suzuki teacher teaches, just by getting some help online.

I do hope this is helpful and wish you and your son every success.
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
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#2001686 - 12/19/12 12:23 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: AZNpiano]
asenicz Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/09
Posts: 4
To AZN Piano: I will look into these, thanks. We've enjoyed the main Piano Adventures primer, this looks like an interesting supplement. One of my favorite features of MFLM was the accompanying CDs, but as my son has gotten older we want something that moves at a faster pace. So it's nice to see that this has a CD.


Edited by asenicz (12/19/12 12:32 PM)

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#2001690 - 12/19/12 12:27 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: ten left thumbs]
asenicz Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/09
Posts: 4
To 10 left thumbs:
1. I recognize this point, but it has worked out well so far and my son is really enjoying piano, so I plan to keep teaching him as long as it works for us both. I've often thought about teaching piano, and have given lessons from time to time, so it is a chance for me to explore piano teaching also. (We also homeschool so are used to the parent-as-teacher relationship.)
2. I haven't seen much of this in the materials I've looked at, but my experience is limited. If you have any recommended ear training materials, please let me know.
3. I have looked at the Suzuki website, but noticed that there a few experienced Suzuki teachers here also who might want to respond.
4. I definitely understand this point, but don't see the harm in looking for more information to see if we want to pursue this method. At this point I find I like to mix & match from a variety of sources; I don't want to do a full Suzuki program (and couldn't do that on our own anyway, as you say). I do think there are some valuable materials and ideas in Suzuki that we'd like to explore, along with other avenues.


Edited by asenicz (12/19/12 12:29 PM)

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#2001694 - 12/19/12 12:39 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Fair enough. smile My First Piano Adventures have some nice aural training games, though you need to get both the lesson book and the writing book for them. Basic ideas: listen, and say whether tune was played piano or forte; repeat a simple rhythm by clapping; play two notes (make it a large interval) and say whether the second was up or down from the first.

I know for suzuki they listen to the CD a lot, like once a day for three months, or something, but even then, I'm not sure kids are actually going to be working out pitches by ear. That's a fairly advanced skill. I'm sure some will do it, but most kids, while they sing a song just fine, they don't home in on the pitch and analyse it, not without training.

hope this helps.
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#2001930 - 12/19/12 11:18 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
piano2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 83
To learn songs by ear, students of the Suzuki method listen to the cd for as many hours per day that they can. Many of them start music lessons before they start school, so they are home more often and able to listen to the cd (in the background) for hours each day. Beginners then spend weeks or months learning the Variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. These variations consist of different rhythms played on the notes of the popular song we all know. Students learn this partially by rote, but are developing their ear, paying attention to rhythm and tone (under the direction of a teacher). The use of these rhythms allows students to play many more notes on their instruments per day; more than a traditional student would be able to able to play.
While working on the Twinkle variations, students continue to listen to the cd each day, and probably attend group lessons where they are hearing other children playing the pieces in their book.
When the child is ready to play some pieces, they continue to play the Twinkle variations, and begin learning the pieces by ear. This might involve the parent or teacher showing where the first note is, and with which finger. It might involve a bit of rote learning at first, with the home assignment including extra listening to just that piece ( as well as singing it). By the time students are half way through the book (right hand only), most are able to figure out the pieces on their own, with some assistance with fingering from the parent or teacher.
This progression takes a different amount of time for each student - sometimes a year or two, sometimes just months.

Suzuki students (in Book 1) aren't encouraged to use the book to figure out the notes. They need to use their ear.

For your child, you are already teaching him to read notes, and he is probably already dependent on it. To partially do Suzuki would not help him - he would just get the book and try to read the notes. Plus, the Suzuki Book 1 songs are way more difficult than Piano Adventures Level 1. The reason so many people don't like or understand the Suzuki method is because people who aren't qualified try to use it.

If you really want to learn more about the Suzuki method, seek out a teacher. Go and observe their teaching. Suzuki teachers are used to people observing their lessons. Read books about it. If you like what you see, get a Suzuki teacher for your son.
Best of luck!

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#2001966 - 12/20/12 02:36 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: piano2]
AZNpiano Online   happy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: piano2
Plus, the Suzuki Book 1 songs are way more difficult than Piano Adventures Level 1.

Doesn't that really make you think?

Originally Posted By: piano2
The reason so many people don't like or understand the Suzuki method is because people who aren't qualified try to use it.

That's just one of the many reasons.
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Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2002081 - 12/20/12 10:19 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1382
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
The Suzuki world is its own world - i.e., Suzuki adherents on the inside and the rest of us on the outside - but they employ fine repertoire from day one, folk and classical. For that I bless them. Anyone can buy their books and use them as one wishes, and I think our original poster is on the right track by mixing and matching materials of different methods.

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#2003455 - 12/23/12 11:05 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: AZNpiano]
asenicz Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/09
Posts: 4
We bought the first one of these books, and you are right, my son loves it. He can't get enough of the CD. I prefer the Suzuki CD, but he loves the fun songs and the words that go with the Piano Adventures music, and it is motivating him to learn these challenging pieces. Thanks for the suggestion. I will also look into the Piano Adventures workbook for ear training, which we haven't used yet. I may just keep the Suzuki to teach myself how to play by ear smile

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Instead of wasting your time with the Suzuki method, try this:

http://pianoadventures.com/popups/goldstar/index.html

These books are awesome.

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#2003457 - 12/23/12 11:14 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
MaggieGirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 493
I have two friends who have kids playing violin with Suzuki. The teachers are very different! One moves the child ahead when a song is "good enough" and the other moves her when the song is virtually perfect. They do listen to the cd throughout the day but the biggest difference is the parent investment of time. They attend lessons and are expected to take notes and oversee practice at home. At my daughter's piano school, I think many kids are just told to practice and mom and dad don't really oversee, they are clock watchers at most. both friends say their kids play by ear better than they read music, but one is a musician herself and re-enforces reading music at home. Personally, I think Suzuki is a very "natural way" to learn. Hear, try, it's like learning a new language - with daily cd's and practice and involved parents who learn to speak the same language, you do better than being handed a textbook and a cd and having a great lesson once a week (with hands off parents who may or may not remember their child has to practice).

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#2003767 - 12/24/12 03:45 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
AZNpiano Online   happy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: asenicz
We bought the first one of these books, and you are right, my son loves it. He can't get enough of the CD. I prefer the Suzuki CD, but he loves the fun songs and the words that go with the Piano Adventures music, and it is motivating him to learn these challenging pieces.

In my experience, most kids really enjoy the Primer and Level 1 books. 2A isn't as fun (strange sequencing of pieces, some clunkers), but 2B is also wonderful.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2003794 - 12/24/12 06:57 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
AZN piano you seem to be absolutely against Suzuki... almost in a fundamentalist/extremist kind of way. I take it that you've had bad experiences with students who have come out of the Suzuki method.
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http://colouredsilence.wordpress.com/


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#2003873 - 12/24/12 10:15 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Most of us have. There are way too many people out there who read a little bit about it or attend one little workshop and think they understand Suzuki teaching principles. The method itself is not to blame, for you can get outstanding results. The teachers teaching it who have not been thoroughly trained generally don't have a clue as to how to incorporate the reading process. After several years of lessons, their students can't read at all and have little patience with the process. When they come to a traditional teacher, it's almost a lost cause unless the child and the parents have a lot of fortitude.
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#2003966 - 12/24/12 01:35 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
AZNpiano Online   happy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
AZN piano you seem to be absolutely against Suzuki... almost in a fundamentalist/extremist kind of way. I take it that you've had bad experiences with students who have come out of the Suzuki method.

Allow me to draw a parallel to teaching the recitation of poetry:

You could teach a kid to recite poems, verbally, imitating one line at a time. You can get kids to memorize very advanced and difficult poetry one line at a time, or by making them listen to a recording of the poems over and over again. The kid will speak beautifully, with all the inflections and cadences, and can probably memorize hundreds of lines of Shakespearean poetry.

But can the kid actually read written words? Of course not! You give her a poem that she has never heard before and she won't be able to recite it.

Now, flip that around. I can teach the kid phonics, sounding out every word by phonemes. Then, somewhere down the line after reading becomes fluent, I can incorporate the CD and imitation methods to make the kid a more elegant speaker.
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#2004236 - 12/25/12 08:24 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
Sure, but how about students who are three or four years of age who are very interested in playing an instrument but can't even read yet? Do we deprive them of music lessons and wait till they are older? The kids who can recite Shakespheare can't read, but they know how to interpret and they know how to perform. The Suzuki method does not exclude reading, it introduces it later... I've met recipients of the method (people from my university - musicians grown up) who seem to be mixed about it - quite a few who start early on violin and other instruments like clarinet - ones that can go out of tune quickly seem to speak very positively about the Suzuki method. Others aren't too pleased with the fact that they didn't get introduced to reading early.
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#2004247 - 12/25/12 09:37 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11847
Loc: Canada
I understand what AZN is saying. I've never seen it expressed this clearly before. I spent a number of years in close dialogue with a fellow student who had started viola in the Suzuki method and was now working at around a grade 7 or 8 level. What I remember goes hand in hand with what AZN wrote. She realized that she had learned to imitate recordings by rote, playing them back in the same way, but without understanding. As she tried to prepare advanced pieces she couldn't apply ideas like phrasing or rhythm, because she had bypassed all that. When everything is modeled for pure imitation, you don't learn to create or understand. AZN's first long paragraph describes what had happened. Of course teaching goes beyond "methodology" --- different teachers will have different input.

In terms of tuning: Suzuki sticks tapes as fake frets on the fingerboard, so that the students use their eyes instead of ears as a shortcut. If a string stretches out of tune, they will still put their fingers on the same spot, which will now be out of tune. When the tapes are removed, a lot of students are lost for a while.

Suzuki thought that this was a "language" approach, but this is not how language is learned. Children do not imitate poetry or sentences. They experiment and grow in stages. A child babbles sounds, plays with rhythms, constructs grammar like "I runned." which a parent would never model. This is closer to AZN's "Now flip that around...." paragraph.

Again in the final analysis it is about what a particular teacher does.

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#2004310 - 12/25/12 01:58 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
piano2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 83
I beg to differ about the language approach. Babies and toddlers learn to speak from listening to adults speak their language in an adult way. Of course they experiment with making sounds and say some words incorrectly. That's because they are learning - and who gently corrects toddlers when they say "runned"? Their parents or caregivers.
It's very similar when young children are learning music Suzuki style. Of course they don't sound exactly like the cd when they start to play their instrument. But the cd is there to guide them, to train their ears and provide a desired sound. Their teacher and parents help them to develop their skills over time, just as language is learned over time.

I don't see how it is very different from language acquisition. We certainly don't learn to read at the same time we learn to speak. We also rely on our parents/caregivers to guide us in language acquisition as well as Suzuki music lessons.
The pieces in Book 1 of Suzuki are folk songs, and classical songs that are appealing to children. No one is asking a 3 or 4 year old beginner to play a major concerto, just as no one makes their 3 or 4 year old memorize major works of poetry that they would not understand.
Compare the pieces in Suzuki Book 1 to the pieces in almost any primer - the Suzuki pieces are "music" where the primer pieces are merely "exercises" to get the fingers moving. Suzuki pieces get the fingers moving, while developing the ear, and introducing children to higher quality music.
Of course every teacher is different, and there have been teachers who don't put enough emphasis on note reading, in both Suzuki and regular lessons.
I believe that to really understand the Suzuki method, you need to see it in action, with an open mind. Observe a Suzuki teacher (do a bit of research and find one that is reputable).

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#2004312 - 12/25/12 02:16 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: piano2]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11847
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: piano2
I beg to differ about the language approach. Babies and toddlers learn to speak from listening to adults speak their language in an adult way. Of course they experiment with making sounds and say some words incorrectly. That's because they are learning - and who gently corrects toddlers when they say "runned"? Their parents or caregivers.

There are specific stages. Adults may do these things with children, but that is not the whole process. Are you saying this according to what is taught about language acquisition in the Suzuki approach, or as a linguist or through teaching language to children in some capacity? Yes, children hear adults speak in an adult way. But the children will focus on different things at different stages, and they experiment.

The fact of "runned" is not whether it gets corrected, but that it comes up in the first place. It means that the child is deriving grammar rules and thinking. Otherwise he would never say runned if learning language was strictly imitation.


Edited by keystring (12/25/12 03:00 PM)

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#2004337 - 12/25/12 03:49 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
piano2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 83
I am not a linguist, and perhaps the comparison of Suzuki instruction and language acquisition is too simplistic for any real linguist.
I have children and draw from my experiences with them. Of course they experimented with sound and language and had many stages. How is that different from music learning?
Plus, just as children have to process and understand the grammar of their native tongue, why isn't this possible for children learning the "grammar" of Western music? Can this not happen through the Suzuki method of learning? Of course it can.
Suzuki students aren't robots - they have to think, process and build understanding too.
There are tons of cultures that passed their music down orally - the children learned to play by ear and imitation. Is there something wrong with that?

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#2004345 - 12/25/12 04:22 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11847
Loc: Canada
I am a linguist and trained teacher who has worked in these areas and also tried various things in language teaching and learning. Since I also study music, eventually I began thinking about these things. No, experimenting with sound and language in stages is not different from music learning, and that was my point. The only thing that I was pointing out is that the model of language acquisition that is put forth is not how language is actually acquired. By the same token, the kinds of things that AZN put forth do remind me of how language is acquired. My thought is that many Suzuki teachers will do more than just have imitation happening. I know a few who use a mixture of things that work for them, according to their background and the particular student that they have.

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#2004363 - 12/25/12 06:31 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
piano2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 83
Given that I was asked if I'm a linguist, I'd like to ask how many people here
have seen a Suzuki piano lesson of a beginner student who is young (aged 3 or 4)?
Or any age at all?

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#2004376 - 12/25/12 08:37 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11847
Loc: Canada
P2, we are talking past each other. I spoke about how language is learned. That has nothing to do with whether Suzuki is good or bad for young students. I also suspect that when students do Suzuki at a young age, some of these other things are going on. You seem to have said so yourself.

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#2004379 - 12/25/12 08:40 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
AZNpiano Online   happy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
Sure, but how about students who are three or four years of age who are very interested in playing an instrument but can't even read yet? Do we deprive them of music lessons and wait till they are older?


I fail to see the relevance of these questions. There are several programs geared toward that age group. I am not familiar with them, but I don't want to get involved in them, either. Lots of kids skip preschool and kindergarten and go straight to first grade with no problem.

What is there to "deprive"?
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Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2004383 - 12/25/12 08:58 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: piano2]
AZNpiano Online   happy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: piano2
Compare the pieces in Suzuki Book 1 to the pieces in almost any primer - the Suzuki pieces are "music" where the primer pieces are merely "exercises" to get the fingers moving. Suzuki pieces get the fingers moving, while developing the ear, and introducing children to higher quality music.

cursing
Oh, please. Calling pieces in other method books "exercises" while calling Suzuki pieces "music" really shows the true colors of the Suzuki mindset.
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Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2004395 - 12/25/12 09:34 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
piano2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 83
AZN - you are so very hostile towards Suzuki, yet you specifically write that you aren't interested in programs directed towards young children. If that's the case, fine, but why put something down that you have no interest in?
It's hard to understand your hostility.
Look at the first 10-15 pieces in most primer books compared to the pieces in volume 1 of Suzuki.
What is the Suzuki mindset that you're speaking of? If it is believing that it is a good program, most of us believe that what we are teaching is a good idea, regardless of what it is.
Isn't that human nature?

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#2004429 - 12/25/12 11:28 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
AZNpiano Online   happy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
piano2--

I apologize for coming across as hostile towards Suzuki. Like I have written in several posts, there are some pedagogical ideas that I have borrowed from Suzuki and used in my own teaching. I have two close friends who are Suzuki-certified teachers (a very successful violin teacher and a piano teacher), so I definitely know that there are good Suzuki teachers out there.

The "Suzuki mindset" I alluded to refers to some bad personal experiences, which probably are not enough for me to make a broad statement against Suzuki. If I've overstepped my bounds in that regard, I apologize as well.

I realize that the method is not the problem; the teacher is. There are good methods and lousy methods. Even the "best" method books, the ones I love and use, have their own limitations. And that borrowing ideas from across different methods and approaches--adapting, personalizing, cross-referencing--is a hallmark of a good teacher in any field.

Thus, I sincerely hope you see the limitations of the Suzuki method and try not to make it sound like it's better than the other methods. To me, that comparison alone would be off-putting to most people, especially teachers who prefer to use other methods of teaching.

I appreciate your efforts at communicating and discussing this matter.
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#2004491 - 12/26/12 07:03 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: AZNpiano]
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
Sure, but how about students who are three or four years of age who are very interested in playing an instrument but can't even read yet? Do we deprive them of music lessons and wait till they are older?


I fail to see the relevance of these questions. There are several programs geared toward that age group. I am not familiar with them, but I don't want to get involved in them, either. Lots of kids skip preschool and kindergarten and go straight to first grade with no problem.

What is there to "deprive"?


Perhaps deprive was the wrong word... I just think that if kids at a very early age express a burning want to take music lessons then what is stopping them? There are several programs geared towards that age group and Suzuki is one of them. Anyway, your later post sort of says what I wanted to say (in the sense that Suzuki is not completely bad as a method, that there are good teachers who practice that method).
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#2004521 - 12/26/12 09:15 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: piano2]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: piano2
I beg to differ about the language approach. Babies and toddlers learn to speak from listening to adults speak their language in an adult way. Of course they experiment with making sounds and say some words incorrectly. That's because they are learning - and who gently corrects toddlers when they say "runned"?


Children do not need correcting on the 'runned' front. All they need is a good model to hear frequently, and they will work it out. Language acquisition is natural.

There is nothing natural about violin or piano. That's why we need teachers.
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#2004532 - 12/26/12 09:45 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
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I think I found a link between what I know about language acquisition of a child, and music. I didn't have lessons until I was close to 50, and almost nothing was taught in school. When I was a child I was given a little electric organ, a recorder, a mouth organ and later as a teen I had a piano. I did not just try to reproduce melodies with them. I explored. I might play two notes and they took off to become more notes until there was a melody. I got absorbed by how the mouth organ vibrated, and the link between a pleasant sound and a vibration. I remember getting absorbed in playing major 6ths all over the organ, and blasting out major 2nds because they were funny. If I was feeling sad there there minor thirds and minor chords. Sometimes these all came together as music. Sometimes I recognized them IN existing music.

So years later when I got together with my friend who had started with Suzuki, she had learned a lot of things by rote, and at an advanced stage discovered that she couldn't do anything with the music by herself. I was seeing all these elements in it, before having studied anything. I think it was from all the experimenting with things. That's not too different from the child learning language, who gets obsessed with chanting "babababa", varying rhythms and pitches. Those are the things that make for a native accept or a foreign accent. It has also struck me that a few people who began in a looser manner where they could explore seem to be especially comfortable with music.

I wrote about theory: thirds, intervals, creating melodic phrases, which came to me in experimentation as a young child. I don't think this automatically means that some traditional method that teaches formal things right away is "better". I think that any approach can ruin things, and it depends on the teacher. If those same intervals are taught as rigid workbook theory, or things to be memorized on the piano, then they become dead and empty. In fact, they could prevent the student from getting a natural feel for them, because it's dead and unpleasant. The whole thing has to do with the teacher who has a good understanding of music, playing, and teaching. Maybe the best learning includes a kind of guided exploration.


Edited by keystring (12/26/12 10:14 AM)

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#2004546 - 12/26/12 10:59 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: keystring]
malkin Online   content
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View from another linguist...

The comparison of native language learning (L1) to music learning falls apart for me when we consider the amount of input received.

L1 learners hear their native language all around them pretty much all the time accompanied by a meaningful context.

I'm not aware of any situation where anything even approaching that happens for music.
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#2004791 - 12/27/12 04:28 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
ten left thumbs Offline
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Yes, but all children say 'babababa' and not all experiment with a mouth organ.

My problem is with the Suzuki rhetoric, or what I have come across so far. If they were to say, 'look we can learn from natural language acquisition, and apply it to early instrument learning,' then I would have no problem.

It's when they equate instrument learning with language learning (can't find a quite just now, but I've definitely read that) that I get suspicious.
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#2004834 - 12/27/12 08:15 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
piano2 Offline
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When Dr. Suzuki conceived of his method, his realization was that all children could speak their mother tongue successfully. He believed, then, that all children could learn to play music as well. This is why it is called the mother tongue approach. In Japan, Suzuki would teach any child that came to him for lessons - there were no auditions or screening of children. He wanted to challenge this idea of inborn talent and show that all children could be successful in the right environment.
While there are similarities between learning language and learning music, I don't think anyone can say they are EXACTLY the same processes.
Suzuki families are encouraged to immerse themselves in music - listening to the cd a lot, practicing daily, going to concerts, enjoying music together.

Some children taking piano lessons will naturally explore and compose on their instruments. Others will not.
But if children didn't take music lessons, and were left only to explore the instruments in their home, how many would actually do that exploration? Especially nowadays, when kids aren't home as much as they used to be.

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#2004841 - 12/27/12 08:34 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: ten left thumbs]
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Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Yes, but all children say 'babababa' and not all experiment with a mouth organ.

My problem is with the Suzuki rhetoric, or what I have come across so far. If they were to say, 'look we can learn from natural language acquisition, and apply it to early instrument learning,' then I would have no problem.

It's when they equate instrument learning with language learning (can't find a quite just now, but I've definitely read that) that I get suspicious.


I agree.
But instead of suspicious, I get dismissive because their understanding of language learning may be somewhat incomplete.
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#2004876 - 12/27/12 10:24 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: piano2]
keystring Offline
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Originally Posted By: piano2
When Dr. Suzuki conceived of his method, his realization was that all children could speak their mother tongue successfully. He believed, then, that all children could learn to play music as well. This is why it is called the mother tongue approach. In Japan, Suzuki would teach any child that came to him for lessons - there were no auditions or screening of children. He wanted to challenge this idea of inborn talent and show that all children could be successful in the right environment.

Yes, I am aware of that. This was a very good thing. Now I am interested in what you wrote about "there were no auditions or screening of children", because it suggests that in the past (in Japan, maybe?) only children who passed some kind of screening were taught to play? Well, if so, then that was wrong. It would be like only letting people learn to read and write if they could pass a screening. Of course it is easy to teach someone who has a natural knack for something. It takes teaching methodology and skill to teach others - the first essentially teaches himself. So Suzuki was quite right about this.

He then looked at some aspects of how adults teach children. Every culture has nursery rhymes and pat-a-cake clapping games. We could probably do a study on how these create interaction between children and adults, and what kinds of things they teach. This is one place where children do precise imitation, and they have to listen to words, rhymes, rhythms, while using their bodies. It is excellent for teaching and social interaction.

Because Suzuki called this "mother tongue", people tend to believe that this is (the total of) how children learn their first language. That is the only thing I would like to break through. Because a fuller picture of how language is actually acquired gives us greater possibilities of how to learn or teach music. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the notions that I described in my first paragraph. I would like to open the door to additional notions. Is that more clear?

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#2004885 - 12/27/12 10:50 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: ten left thumbs]
keystring Offline
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Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Yes, but all children say 'babababa' and not all experiment with a mouth organ.

...............

It's when they equate instrument learning with language learning (can't find a quite just now, but I've definitely read that) that I get suspicious.


The "babababa" was my idea, and I think it's not thought of in Suzuki. The idea of instrument and language learning intrigues me, but not along the Suzuki lines.

Back to "bababa". My language strength is especially in the oral part. I think my newest languages are no. 6 and 7. I taught one student a foreign language, who wanted to speak fluently and without an accent. I helped another person informally who had to attend lectures given in a French Canadian accent, and had studied the international Parisian accent - she was lost. The ideas I applied came from music, and probably wouldn't be accepted by most students or mainstream teaching. It begins with "babababa". When you listen to children at that stage, there is a rhythm that starts resembling the cadences of our language. You will also observe small children experiment with what sounds they can produce, getting totally absorbed with what their bodies can do and what sounds come out. Is there anything closer to good instrument practice?

So this challenge with these two students forced me to take a closer look at how young children acquire their mother tongue. For the woman struggling with understanding Canadian French, she was given a recording of Vigneault (singer) plus lyrics, and told to immerse herself in the rhythm of his speech. Then at the next lecture, not try to understand anything, but simply become part of that rhythm and let the words come when they would. In 5 minutes she went from a wash of sound to being able to follow everything being said. My theory was that if babies babble rhythmically with inflection, they're listening for it and try to reproduce or become part of it.

With the student who wanted to learn a new language and speak it fluently and without an accent he was forbidden to read things first. He would stick his own accent into what he read. (That is also Suzuki's "listen first" idea, btw.) Sometimes I would hum the cadence of a sentence, he hummed it back, and then he inserted the words to the same cadence. The effect was remarkable. As far as he could pronounce the letters, it became accent-free. A lot of "foreign accent" comes from rhythm and inflection. --- The other part was classic: learning to hear the sound, rather than interpret what you think you should be hearing. This is also an aspect of music. Then there was physically reproducing the sound, getting muscles and breath to work in new ways. The small child delights in blowing bubbles while adults are inhibited.

I also do things with music and have friends who are studying it, so these observations went back into music too. The listening for and reproducing inflections is also part of music. Listening for details of sound, ditto. In both language and music we don't just imitate. The child doesn't just repeat things: he crafts his own sentences, and has to have analyzed details on some level to do so. That's why we have "I runned." Similarly in music at some point we have to be able to come to a new piece of music and decide how we want it to sound, and we get into phrasing and interpretation. Surely that comes out of these detailed things, rather than imitation.

If this doesn't make sense - the shorter version is that the things we do in languages also seem to be things we do in music, and the other way around. The idea of "mother tongue" is exciting if we can expand it beyond imitation, and explore it to the hilt. This is a thought I've had for a number of years.

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#2005134 - 12/27/12 07:33 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
keystring Offline
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Ok, that was way too long. Note to self - don't post before morning coffee. Can't edit anymore.

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#2005136 - 12/27/12 07:37 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: keystring]
currawong Offline
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Originally Posted By: keystring
Note to self - don't post before morning coffee.
Don't do anything before morning coffee. laugh
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#2005655 - 12/28/12 04:04 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: ten left thumbs]
landorrano Offline
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Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Language acquisition is natural.

There is nothing natural about violin or piano. That's why we need teachers.


Hi. Myself, I think that there is a great deal of natural about violin and piano ... when there is a violin and a piano in the house.

On the other hand language is taught too ... isn't it? Gently at first, systematically later on by a trained and certified teacher ... and occasionally with a growl!

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#2005869 - 12/29/12 02:33 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
btb Offline
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Suzuki was a violin expert ... a violin score is easy to read, being a single note outline. Suzuki was able to teach his students to anticipate the next violin note ... however the system came unstuck when trying to switch to the keyboard.

With two staves to negotiate multiple chord combinations by two hands, Suzuki is also stumped ...
just like those sight-reading traditional notation.

There are no shortcuts to playing the piano well ...
The hard reality involves hours of dedicated practice.

PS Don’t let anybody bluff you that a violin is easy to PLAY ... that’s why (in cat gut defeat) I stick to the piano.

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#2005887 - 12/29/12 05:01 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: btb]
AZNpiano Online   happy
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Originally Posted By: btb
There are no shortcuts to playing the piano well ...
The hard reality involves hours of dedicated practice.

My goodness! I think we are actually in agreement here!!

To be fair, though, I don't think the Suzuki people ever advertised their product as a "shortcut," unlike some DVD piano course you find online.
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#2006827 - 12/31/12 01:03 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: btb]
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I do not have time for a lengthy response right now, but I have a 12 year old that started Suzuki piano at age 5. He's at the end of Suzuki book 6 (but also works on quite a bit of outside repertoire and theory at this point). He attends festivals and competitions with traditional kids and shows well. He's prepping for exams right now. He has a rigorous teacher. Kids at his music school (hundreds of suzuki piano kids) learning Suzuki piano are introduced to reading when kids typically learn to read words, like age 5-7. He was working out of reading book fom day 1. Are there teachers who don't push this enough and are there students who don't practice reading? Sure. Is that a given? No. My kid goes to Suzuki based music camp every summer and the master teachers, most who do certification training, get bent out of shape about kids that don't read well. At this point, my kid would have no problem transferring to a traditional teacher. Kid has developed perfect pitch, as an aside.

I'm happy to answer pms about Suzuki. I have online video of his last 5 years. I have a Suzuki violinist too and grew up in the Suzuki method myself. I always feel like I have to come in and do damage control on Suzuki. I really don't think it's that radical or different than a rounded traditional approach with engaged parents involved when done well.
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#2034075 - 02/16/13 02:18 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
A2mom Offline
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More damage control...
There are good Suzuki piano teachers and there are Suzuki piano teachers who are not so good; just as there are good traditional teachers and not so good traditional teachers. There is a strong integration of parental guidance as home music coaches in Suzuki (parents are participants in all home practice sessions which are supervised and not pursued by the student in isolation). This aspect of parent participation is not the usual traditional piano approach - although all teachers know that proper support of their methods by the parents in the home environment will enhance their teaching. Simply teaching using Suzuki books is missing most of the "Suzuki Method". Application of the method requires active parental involvement (parents are taught what they should be reinforcing at home regarding hand positioning, attack, technique, posture, etc.), hours of listening to the CDs (this begins to replicate the constant language exposure issue- a music immersion experience if you will) and heavy emphasis on the listening, sound/tone/rhythm replication mechanism via ear to brain to hand. The method emphasizes the younger child in the language acquisition phase of development and imitative phases of development - the younger the better. The technique works less well for adults who are developmentally beyond the language acquisition phase and whose brains are more preoccupied with the adult world activities. The child's brain at the time of intense language acquisition when they are listening with an intent to replicate the sounds of language should be the phase of development most conducive to Suzuki methods. Listen to Bach all day, really get the sounds in the brain, and then get the ear to guide the fingers in replicating the sound.

We had our kids in Suzuki piano age 3.5 to about 8 or 9. They learned to read music notation and the Suzuki teacher specifically taught this from book 2 onward. The kids sightread music fine at the transition point to "traditional" teacher. Our experience was much like KCK: we have one child with perfect pitch and the other is near perfect pitch. Both memorize music exceptionally easily. Both play by ear extremely well; they will hear a piece on the radio or in a film and start picking it out on the piano. Yesterday, one of them was sightreading a recognizable rendition of the Pathetique sonata with both hands. They will literally sightread entire music books in order to pick out the piece that they most like to "work on". We chose the Suzuki method to start at age 3 in the hopes that it would be better for the "ear" and we believe the method achieved the goal. We also recognized the strength of traditional teaching methods in theory and note reading so at the appropriate point, once the ear was "trained", the notation/theory were duly integrated. We are happy with the results and so are the kids.

There is such a negative presentation of Suzuki piano kids that I have to advance a couple of links for the 10-piano Suzuki concerts. These concerts are unique to Suzuki piano, but keep in mind, the kids playing in these concerts are not headed to conservatory or music careers. Suzuki piano teachers believe that ALL their students can achieve at the levels these kids are performing at. By and large, these are our "average" neighborhood kids and I've known many of these kids who played with my own in these 10 piano concerts. None of the kids in the links below are competition circuit piano prodigies, but real examples of what can be accomplished with Suzuki piano methods for typical kids with supportive parents:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2t2ewgiOkg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQTRzAM2Cdg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTg8St59xVg
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#2034079 - 02/16/13 02:46 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
Nikolas Offline
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On the second video they do NOT play the same thing, but for the first and third video I think they play the same. This, for me, means that they are playing like robots. They have to coordinate with another 9 people on works which REQUIRE individuality and personality. Solo piano works, are not orchestral parts I think!

? Is the above true ? I do not have any experience with the suziki method, being in Greece and all that...
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#2034214 - 02/16/13 11:05 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
ten left thumbs Offline
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Nothing could put me off a method more than to see 10 pianos on a stage with all pianists playing in unison.
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#2034273 - 02/16/13 01:42 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: A2mom]
AZNpiano Online   happy
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Originally Posted By: A2mom
There is such a negative presentation of Suzuki piano kids that I have to advance a couple of links for the 10-piano Suzuki concerts.

These videos do not prove anything. The uninformed public might be intrigued by such musical stunts, but to put up such links here for real piano teachers is sheer insult.

In lieu of damage control, your revival of a month-old thread made things worse. Your post gives Suzuki opponents more reasons to believe that Suzuki parents have been thoroughly brainwashed.
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#2034312 - 02/16/13 03:38 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
A2mom Offline
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I am not a Suzuki teacher, just a former Suzuki piano parent who perceives both strengths and weaknesses to both Suzuki pedagogical and "traditional" pedagogical methods. I agree that the student pianist should develop individual expression, interpretation and technical mastery. However, you must take into account that these kids as I said were not kids destined to be piano teachers, conservatory students, professional pianists or musicians. These are the ordinary kids on your block who were statistically most likely destined to stop taking piano lessons before they could even play Mozart K545. So, if Suzuki piano can use a 10 piano concert to successfully inspire these kids to play at this level, even if piano high achievers on Pianoworld think it is "robotic", wouldn't it be a good thing? It's a bit of the dancing bear is it not: it's not whether the bear dances well or to your standards, it is amazing that a bear dances at all. I'm sure that these kids don't meet "standards", but which of our kids should be attempting to play the piano - only those capable of being professional musicians/teachers? Somehow I doubt that all traditionally trained piano students play K545 at a high interpretative level. The Suzuki philosophy is everyone can play music (okay, you think it is robot music, but what about the many kids who can't play at all?) and they'd like to help all kids give it a go.

Uniformly, these Suzuki kids play solo recitals striving for all the things that students of traditional piano teaching methods strive for - nuance, interpretation, expression, technique mastery. However, 10 pianos playing at once is a special Suzuki feature. This concert is highly motivating to the students because it is less fearful, especially for the younger ones, than playing solo. They are playing WITH their friends - if they don't know these kids on day one, the multiple practice sessions bonds these kids to become friends. They look forward to playing the concerts just to see their piano friends. More than one kid (including mine) was extremely dubious about agreeing to play in their first 10 piano concert (age 5). Immediately after the concert my child said "Oh Mommy, I want to do this again!". Repeatedly, they were eager to do 10 piano concerts much more than solo recital. This converted a solo, isolating and potentially scary experience (the recital in a professional concert hall) into a community, shared experience with friends (a dress up piano party? social piano?). Imagine the camaraderie of the orchestral experience enabled for the solo piano child (children being a very social group).

With regard to the robotic aspects, should we dismiss all ten violins in a symphony as playing robots? I don't think this experience precludes development of the violin soloist. Expression as part of a violin section where many seek to create a beautiful "one" is something to strive for. I think this is foreign to most piano students who never make it to chamber music/concerto level. If you talk to the kids, they pretty much say that it is much harder for them to play in a 10 piano Suzuki concert because they have to listen so hard to the other pianists in order to coordinate than it is to play the same piece in their solo recitals despite the increased interpretive freedom. The kids always start out by playing all over the map and everyone thinks "how can they pull this together without a disaster". The kids are highly motivated not to be the weakest player on the team - this is peer pressure for good. Everyone on their team knows the piece and can hear who is making a mistake or off tempo. Everyone is going home to practice hard individually because they want the team to do well. They don't want to let their friends down. This is not about individual expression in interpretation; this is about harnessing the strengths of social/community/shared experiences in learning piano and motivating large numbers of kids to go beyond where they might have gone isolated and alone. None of these kids would have gone home to practice every evening to bring their pieces to this "robotic" 10 piano concert level if these were just their solo recitals. As a group, they often did better than they could as individuals and the children derived a great sense of achievement as being part of something greater than their small piano selves. The sum became greater than the individual parts. These concerts are a piano community (there are 200 kids, ages 4-18 or 20, plus parents and sibs meeting multiple times for the rehearsals to pull one of these concerts off) - a piano participation community where no one is an isolated, weird kid playing classical pieces all by themselves and where the philosophy is that all the kids will be able to play K545 even they are not destined to be van Cliburn. I think these concerts need to be judged within their context in the piano teaching methodology, not as great performances or measures of achievement/quality in pianistic playing. These 10 piano concerts are not being advanced as the best outcomes of the Suzuki methods, but as an aspect which differentiates the pedagogical approach which I personally saw as a positive motivator for many ordinary kids. I freely acknowledge that some Suzuki practices may be overly rigid, but there are some very good aspects which students can benefit from. Just my thoughts based on my personal experience...and no, I am not promoting Suzuki methodology over traditional or alternative methods. I just believe that in our own situation, we have been able to benefit both from Suzuki and traditional methods at appropriate points to keep the enjoyment of piano playing alive in our kids.
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#2034343 - 02/16/13 04:34 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
piano2 Offline
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AZN - I'm not clear how putting the multi-piano concert links on here is an insult. Why and to whom?

Piano is such a solitary instrument to play/practise/perform - most children/teenagers would take a great delight in being a part of this.

Also - for kids involved in this type of concert: this is only part of their instruction. Don't worry - they are still learning to read music, play solos with expression, etc, etc, etc

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#2034354 - 02/16/13 05:03 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: piano2]
AZNpiano Online   happy
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Originally Posted By: piano2
AZN - I'm not clear how putting the multi-piano concert links on here is an insult. Why and to whom?

The links were made as if to prove that Suzuki is good. It doesn't. In fact, as a few other posters have pointed out, the outcome is rather less than stellar. I agree with the thought that the performance is rather robotic.

I hope my students will never do that, play in unison with 9 other people on stage. What a vast waste of resources (the $$$ involved to get 10 grands on stage!), rehearsal time, and artistry? If the purpose is ensemble playing, then perform music written for or arranged for multiple pianos. But to have ten kids play solo repertoire together is really not the point of learning piano.

It's a stunt. Nothing more, nothing less.
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#2034382 - 02/16/13 05:39 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: A2mom]
ten left thumbs Offline
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Originally Posted By: A2mom
... These are the ordinary kids on your block who were statistically most likely destined to stop taking piano lessons before they could even play Mozart K545.


Each and every player plays well. smile Suzuki students often do, especially the ones who end up on youtube. However, they are not 'ordinary kids on the block' - they are lucky to have parents wealthy enough to have a place for a piano, a piano that's kept in order, and to pay for regular lessons. The parents invest a lot of energy into their success.

Quote:

Imagine the camaraderie of the orchestral experience enabled for the solo piano child (children being a very social group).


For an orchestral experience, you need an orchestra. Give any of these kids a concerto, put them in a chamber group or a rock band, have them play lieder with a singer, and I'll be happy. Even a duet, a piano duet.

Quote:

With regard to the robotic aspects, should we dismiss all ten violins in a symphony as playing robots?


A violin is a violin, a piano is a piano. 10 violins sound good together.

Really, I'm very open to much that is good in Suzuki. But those videos give me the creeps.
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#2034413 - 02/16/13 06:31 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: A2mom]
Nikolas Offline
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Originally Posted By: A2mom
(okay, you think it is robot music, but what about the many kids who can't play at all?) and they'd like to help all kids give it a go.
Because I think this is referring to me, first of all I was asking.

But the thing is that I didn't say it was robot music, I said that they play like robots, having to sync with another 9 pianists, on works which are SOLO works.

BTW, I can't dance. I don't mind it and I have decided that even if I was to be decent at that, I don't care. I've got my music... So... not everything is for everyone.

Quote:
With regard to the robotic aspects, should we dismiss all ten violins in a symphony as playing robots? I don't think this experience precludes development of the violin soloist. Expression as part of a violin section where many seek to create a beautiful "one" is something to strive for.

To be honest a soloist violinist has a rather different training, after a certain level than that of the orchestral violinist and this is included in all the university/college/conservatory programs that I know off.

But again, I will repeat (and as a composer who recently wrote quite a few works for more than 1 pianists) that here we have solo works treated a ten-ets (duetsx5?)...

Quote:
I just believe that in our own situation, we have been able to benefit both from Suzuki and traditional methods at appropriate points to keep the enjoyment of piano playing alive in our kids.
Whatever works is great regardless of the above. More over the point is to have the kids to love music. so we're very much in agreement with that...
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#2034592 - 02/17/13 04:55 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
A2mom Offline
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Apparently, I was wrong. 10 piano concerts are not unique to Suzuki methods. See the following links:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzjX5PtKWmY
http://pamta.org/?page_id=80
http://usu.edu/ycpiano/htm/monster-concert-2013
Are these concerts produced by traditional piano teachers also wrongly misusing solo repertoire for multiple pianos? Are the students regrettably encouraged (enticed? duped? tricked?) into enthusiastic participation in year after year of piano lessons and practicing for these stunts? Can we put up with the stunt/event if it is fun for the kids, helps to build a love of piano playing and can give teachers a shot at keeping their students playing/taking lessons long enough to reach the goal of playing solo pieces with expression? It looks like many folks appear to be doing "monster concerts" so the question goes well beyond whether this is a stunt proving Suzuki methods deficient.

I did not post the Suzuki 10 piano links to prove anything about quality of performance or to insult anyone's musical sensibilities, least of all our teachers. I am sorry if use of solo repertoire for multiple pianos is painful to our teachers and composers. Would Chopin, Mozart, Bach or Liszt all be disappointed that 10 kids had a blast playing their piece together and loved sharing that music with 200 other kids and 1500 in the audience? Classical compositions have been turned into rock music, musical theater, solos turned into two piano pieces (five pianos by the Five Browns), orchestral pieces transcribed to solo piano or "dumbed down" for beginner duets, pieces originally written for harpsichord played on piano or flute, Mozart played as ragtime. None of these permutations may be our cup of tea, but the 10 piano Suzuki concerts were simply mentioned to indicate my observations of their use in Suzuki piano in some areas as part of their teaching methods since the OP inquired about how Suzuki songs are learned and seemed to want to know what was involved.

Since we have not been with a Suzuki piano teacher for several years, I don't think my comments indicate any brainwashing. I'm not trying to prove the worth of Suzuki methods. Theory and notation are not the strong suit of Suzuki piano, but traditional methods have their weaknesses as well. I recognize the potential and probable reality of misapplication of Suzuki methods in producing pianists or violinists who are deficient in theory and notation/sightreading because they rely so strongly on their ear. But this is in part "operator" error and not a predetermined outcome of Suzuki methods. Similarly, I'd guess not all traditionally trained 10 year old piano transfer students are stunning sightreaders ready to analyze the chord structure of a Bach fugue in five seconds and play anything by ear. I am not brainwashed to think either Suzuki methods or traditional training methods are always used well or appropriate for all circumstances. Personally I think some traditional teachers are equally guilty as Suzuki teachers for being slaves to reproducing Bach as "written in the book" rather than allowing/encouraging and teaching improvisational ornamentation. I don't think it is brainwashing to give credit where credit is due, however, and the listening skills plus the sensitivity to musicality derived from training the ear at such a young age is really a positive aspect of Suzuki method emphasis on tone. I just think for my kids at a young age, our particular Suzuki piano experience, including the 10 piano concerts, was a positive experience which led to kids who have a reasonable ear, can play songs by ear by their own arrangement, sightread music notation as well as any purely traditionally taught piano student (MTAC CM theory level 8 honors, last year, age 12), like composition, and, most importantly, love playing piano. Are we flukes who luckily failed Suzuki immersion or victims of 6-7 years of Suzuki piano?
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#2034593 - 02/17/13 05:02 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
Nikolas Offline
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A2mom I think you're getting defensive for little to no reason... As I said I was asking in the first place.

Now you're providing a second example of this, again. Yes, for me it feels like a stunt (like a flash mob) and not much else. People enjoy it by all means and I won't be there outside the door protesting to the destruction of classical music! grin But the administrative costs, arrangements, etc seem to be explosive in such a case and I don't care to be a part of that. Heck as a composer I try to compose things that can be performed, played, enjoyed, etc. Not a monster work for 20 pianos. I just wouldn't know what to do with 20 pianos! Simple as that... Perhaps it's my poor imagination, or my limited view of things, I can't tell!

As I said whatever works to everyone, for me. I don't have experience with the suzuki method, but I do mind the idea 'everyone can do anything', since it's not true. Plain and simple. I already said I don't dance and don't plan on learning how to. If my kids decide to be wrestlers or musicians, or lawyers it's up to them, and I'm pretty sure that there will be areas where they won't be brilliant. So be it... Big deal!
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#2034831 - 02/17/13 03:47 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: Nikolas]
A2mom Offline
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Dear Nikolas, Apologies if I wasn't clear that I was just participating in a discussion. I wasn't replying to your post at all. I posted in reply to this post by AZN:

"These videos do not prove anything. The uninformed public might be intrigued by such musical stunts, but to put up such links here for real piano teachers is sheer insult.

In lieu of damage control, your revival of a month-old thread made things worse. Your post gives Suzuki opponents more reasons to believe that Suzuki parents have been thoroughly brainwashed."

I would agree that not everybody can, needs to, or will play the piano (dance, paint) successfully. This is life as we both know. However, if the Suzuki folks want to start with the precept/hope that "any child can", I think it really is a positive beginning stance as personally I don't see many 3.5 year old kids that look to be Mozart and when we start teaching, we cannot know the outcome. Bless the teacher who took on the blind student (didn't one win the Van Cliburn), the teacher of a child who was in a competition/recital with a vestigial finger and some arm developmental problem (didn't win a trophy, but won our hearts, astounded us with her playing, and won a life of music. I don't remember the winner, but I do remember this child), and the teacher who took on the autistic or ADHD child because of their precept (hope? dogma? unrealistic belief?) that any child can. I don't think anyone is contending that everyone will and it may be better to say that the Suzuki folks think any child putting forth the required effort with support of parents and teacher can, but really the key is that someone is willing to start teaching without defining kids as not being able even as we recognize, some kids won't do/make it.
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#2034835 - 02/17/13 03:53 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
Nikolas Offline
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A2mom:

I see... I also got confused because of your references to robots, etc, which was something that I said.

In any case I will repeat that an idea of "any child can" is false, due to real life limitations. More over it produces very tender children that feel that they really can accomplish anything. There's images of "FAMOUS FAILURES" all over facebook: "Just look at Einstein, who failed math, just look at that person who failed that, etc... Yet the strove to be best and they are. Don't give up." And so on. There's no mention of the millions of people who failed math and are NOT Einstein!

We do need to teach our children that failing is a part of life. That we are not super humans, not super parents, not super teachers, no matter how much we fancy being one. Failing is not letting them down of course! We will still love them, care for them, cherish their every moment in life! And we will also fail as parents, or teachers, or professionals. What's wrong with that anyhow?

As for the examples you mention, I'd say that they are hugely different cases than what we're talking about.
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#2034847 - 02/17/13 04:01 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: Nikolas]
Barb860 Offline
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FWIW there is a good book, written by Dr. Suzuki himself, titled, "Nurtured by Love", which discusses the method in depth if there is any interest in reading more about suzuki method.
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#2035172 - 02/18/13 09:27 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: Nikolas]
malkin Online   content
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Registered: 04/18/09
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Originally Posted By: Nikolas
A2mom:

I see... I also got confused because of your references to robots, etc, which was something that I said.

In any case I will repeat that an idea of "any child can" is false, due to real life limitations. More over it produces very tender children that feel that they really can accomplish anything. There's images of "FAMOUS FAILURES" all over facebook: "Just look at Einstein, who failed math, just look at that person who failed that, etc... Yet the strove to be best and they are. Don't give up." And so on. There's no mention of the millions of people who failed math and are NOT Einstein!

We do need to teach our children that failing is a part of life. That we are not super humans, not super parents, not super teachers, no matter how much we fancy being one. Failing is not letting them down of course! We will still love them, care for them, cherish their every moment in life! And we will also fail as parents, or teachers, or professionals. What's wrong with that anyhow?

As for the examples you mention, I'd say that they are hugely different cases than what we're talking about.


Thanks for that Nikolas.
It's true not just about failing, but also just being normal or average. Someone has to fill out the middle of the normal curve, and in most areas it is most of us.
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#2035185 - 02/18/13 10:02 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
piano2 Offline
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Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 83
If a teacher doesn't believe that every child can learn music, how does he or she approach new students? Is there a screening process to decide who has a "natural" talent, or who has a good ear? Should teachers work only with those students who show musical aptitude?

Nikolas - I think the attitude that "every child can" is very positive. Learning an instrument teaches children so many life skills. It is an activity that takes patience and time to progress, and all children progress at a different rate.
Dr. Suzuki did find that all children could learn to play violin, with the nurturing help of their parents and teachers. He did not hand pick the children and many of the parents had no musical training. Suzuki also was gifted at working with children, and was their advocate.

If failing is part of life, then how do we learn from a failure? Give up and stop trying? Should we only do the things that we are "good" at? If something is challenging to us, should we switch to something that is easier? Of course it is okay to be average at something - but even that takes effort and desire. To be "average" at music takes a lot of work. Does being average at something mean you have failed? I don't think so.
Is it okay to fail? Sure! It is the next steps that are most important - reflection, future plans, goal setting for next time.

At a lecture for piano parents, the topic was "Let them be good at something." All of those kids in the multi-piano concerts are good at piano. They aren't prodigies, and probably will not become concert pianists. But they are good at piano and will be able play music for the rest of their lives, if they wish.

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#2035253 - 02/18/13 12:08 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: piano2]
Nikolas Offline
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Registered: 11/26/07
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Originally Posted By: piano2
If a teacher doesn't believe that every child can learn music, how does he or she approach new students? Is there a screening process to decide who has a "natural" talent, or who has a good ear? Should teachers work only with those students who show musical aptitude?
If you could define 'learn' then we could discuss a bit further this issue.

I have yet to turn down any student in terms of 'talent' or 'musicality' or 'studying or not studying'. I have turned down a few students (adults) who simply sucked as personalities!

Some students will try and try and try and yet won't make it. Others will make it at one certain point, and some 0.0001% will make it hugely. Everything can happen.

The rest after your next quote.

Quote:
Nikolas - I think the attitude that "every child can" is very positive. Learning an instrument teaches children so many life skills. It is an activity that takes patience and time to progress, and all children progress at a different rate.
Dr. Suzuki did find that all children could learn to play violin, with the nurturing help of their parents and teachers. He did not hand pick the children and many of the parents had no musical training. Suzuki also was gifted at working with children, and was their advocate.
First of all, we need to remind ourselves that the personality of a teacher is ALSO crucial. So what Dr. Suzuki could be doing others perhaps couldn't. I mean not everyone fits in every diet! laugh So... grin

Quote:
If failing is part of life, then how do we learn from a failure? Give up and stop trying? Should we only do the things that we are "good" at? If something is challenging to us, should we switch to something that is easier? Of course it is okay to be average at something - but even that takes effort and desire. To be "average" at music takes a lot of work. Does being average at something mean you have failed? I don't think so.
No, being "average" certainly does not mean failure (and failure is a very strong word...). The reason I used the word "fail" again and again was to counter this extremely positive vibe I kept getting with this "Every child can"...

There's failing and failing and failing. Some failures makes us try harder and make future plans, goal settings, etc. Some failures makes us so embarrassed that we end up with psychological issues, some failures just makes us realize that some things are not meant for us and this IS fine. That's the point of all this discussion for me.

We are not cut out for everything! Heck if we were to keep trying at everything we wouldn't have time to eat, drink, sleep or live! I mean even chasing all the women/men we loved (if we were not to give up) would have devastating effects if you think about it! grin

If I was to paraphrase this phrase I'd put it as follows: "Every child can give it a go, or a few goes. If it doesn't work that's ok"
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#2035258 - 02/18/13 12:14 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
keystring Offline
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How many children going to school cannot read at all? How many cannot do basic arithmetic? In that sense, I think that almost every child can potentially play music up to a given level.

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#2035292 - 02/18/13 01:50 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: keystring]
malkin Online   content
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Registered: 04/18/09
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Originally Posted By: keystring
How many children going to school cannot read at all? How many cannot do basic arithmetic? In that sense, I think that almost every child can potentially play music up to a given level.


In my world, there are quite a few children and young adults who cannot read or do arithmetic, (or communicate or use the toilet reliably) but even my most profoundly disabled friends can learn and make progress.

I agree with your statement 'up to a given level.'
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#2035328 - 02/18/13 03:20 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: malkin]
Nikolas Offline
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Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: malkin
I agree with your statement 'up to a given level.'
I'm not sure if it's clear from my posts, but I also agree with this sentiment.

But this idea is what I do NOT like very much...



You get 6 examples of people who made it huge and are given the idea that if you want something bad enough you'll make it happen... I don't know about you but I don't buy that...
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#2035330 - 02/18/13 03:23 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: keystring]
Barb860 Offline
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Registered: 04/11/09
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Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: keystring
How many children going to school cannot read at all? How many cannot do basic arithmetic? In that sense, I think that almost every child can potentially play music up to a given level.


Agreed, and especially with parental support and commitment, which is fundamental in the Suzuki method (at least for violin, when I was a student and from what I know of the program today). Commitment =Love.
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#2035334 - 02/18/13 03:32 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: Nikolas]
keystring Offline
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Originally Posted By: Nikolas

You get 6 examples of people who made it huge and are given the idea that if you want something bad enough you'll make it happen... I don't know about you but I don't buy that...

Nikolas, you have totally misunderstood the message. It is not about making it big. It is about the un-truth of ideas like instant success, luck, talent, and a self-image that sees oneself either as "a success" or "a failure". The point is that:
a) It takes diligence and perseverance to achieve anything
b) If you try a new thing, first you will do badly at it, and that is not a sign that you "suck" and should give up. It means that it is normal.
c) People who have achieved things in life often fell down a lot.

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#2035340 - 02/18/13 03:41 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
Nikolas Offline
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keystring: As you probably know, I feel pretty much the same way with you. Not only because of this thread and my mentioning that I do, but because of my various comments on talent, etc...

But I will stand by my comment that providing 6 examples with Einsteins, Jordan, etc is giving exactly the message of 'making it big'. There's no bigger than disney or the Beatles, is there? And if I've come to misunderstood the message, and I'm a grown up guy with a tiny bit of career and am rather happy with who I am, imagine what it's doing to all those who'd dream of being huge...
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#2035357 - 02/18/13 04:11 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
malkin Online   content
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Never mind success and failure. The point is to be a decent human being.
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#2035363 - 02/18/13 04:23 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
A2mom Offline
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Registered: 05/28/07
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I wonder if we are communicating past each other. I doubt that anyone here would say that "all people/anyone can" play piano at the level of Horowitz, Schiff, Gould, enter the player of your preference. No one would say that "anyone can" write a play as well as Sophocles, Euripides, Shakespeare, enter the writer of your choice. No one would say that "anyone can" deliver a speech as well as Pericles or Churchill, or sing as well as Caruso, Callas, enter the great voices/vocal cords of your choice. However, language and music are essentially universal amongst humans and we all have the neural circuitry and physical apparatus to allow us to speak, manipulate symbols for language, and to sing/make music. Not all of us do these things (by choice/brain injury/damage to the apparatus/disinterest), and we certainly don't all do these things at the same level, well or expertly, but all humans (except the neurally or physically injured/disabled/unlucky minority) have the capability to vocalize through speech or singing and to use language/symbols. Pretty much all humans think it is possible for their children to learn to speak (we run to the doctor in a panic if we think they can't speak). They pretty much can all sing (yes, not all on pitch and few might recognize my singing as such). Internationally educators assume that it is possible and even a good thing to try to teach everyone that 2+2=4, but the educational system does not assume that we can all solve Fermat's last theorem. I think it is in this sense that I have been using the words "anyone can": non-disabled, typical humans possess the human musical brain/neural circuitry and physical apparatus which enables them with the help of teachers and parents and their own applied efforts to learn to play music/piano/sing. Saying "anyone can" does not deny "failure" as a fact of reality, the importance of learning ones limits/deficiencies, acceptance of average performance, or imply at what level one sings, plays piano, speaks, or manipulates symbols for writing.

"Anyone can" does not equate to "anyone can do it at a professional level, an "A" level, or a given standard. "Anyone can" coexists with "anyone can fail" and even "few goes" or "few succeed". "Anyone can" allows "anyone to fail". "Anyone can" does convey that as humans, we possess the necessary attributes to learn speaking, singing, and music/playing an instrument - the extent to which we have the resources/help and personal interest in developing any of our human attributes or capabilities is clearly different.
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#2035387 - 02/18/13 05:19 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
kck Offline
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Posts: 269
Ok - coming back late to the party. I was the other Suzuki parent who posted above.

My Suzuki kid has never performed solo repertoire like this with other students in 7 years of lessons. He has learned duets or accompaniments, and is advanced enough to look at concerti now if he had the interest.

Interestingly enough, one of our biggest local piano competitions involves playing in unison in stage with other "winners" in unison. Run entirely by traditional teachers. Sure it's a gimmick. Sometimes gimmick-y things bring out motivation in kids. And unless you hear the kids play as individuals, I'm not sure a judgment can be made on the quality of the students. The kids are judged as individuals, but then must go through a rehearsal process to play in unison.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gArg6uT-Z6Q

Just as you cannot judge all traditional teachers, you cannot judge all Suzuki teachers.

I agree not every piano student is going to be a career concert pianist, be an amazing solo performer, and be a creative interpreter of music. There is much value in engaging a child in music lessons beyond creating a musician IMO. Different approaches may take different children further. I'm not sure why anyone thinks a one size fits all approach to education of any type is the right way to go.

Again, I'm happy to share some videos of my kid privately. This week he is playing in an honors recital he had to audition against traditional kids of many instruments and somehow he still managed to finagle himself a spot.
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#2035401 - 02/18/13 05:42 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
A2mom Offline
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Registered: 05/28/07
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Vis a vis Einstein, Jordan et al., I agree with Keystring's interpretation of the take home message. What comes through for me is that these people worked really hard/kept plugging to achieve things despite initial difficulties or other people's dismissal of their first efforts. I don't think the message is anyone can make it huge just by wishing it or without hard work. Seems to me that some of these examples are famous examples of hardwork or driven workaholics (maybe their "success" also has an element of good fortune as icing).

It is a myth (Internet myth?) that Einstein in particular failed math; he worked hard at it from an early age. Einstein worked hard for his achievement. From a TIME magazine article: "In 1935, a rabbi in Princeton showed him a clipping of the Ripley's column with the headline "Greatest living mathematician failed in mathematics." Einstein laughed. "I never failed in mathematics," he replied, correctly. "Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus." In primary school, he was at the top of his class and "far above the school requirements" in math. By age 12, his sister recalled, "he already had a predilection for solving complicated problems in applied arithmetic," and he decided to see if he could jump ahead by learning geometry and algebra on his own."

http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1936731_1936743_1936758,00.html

In truth, these people are not necessarily anymore a "success" than the child I described with a physical limitation on playing the piano who amazed me. Their achievement is not necessarily "greater". She could just as well be on that poster in my opinion because the message is the same: work hard and look what we can do. Furthermore, my opinion of the child's success is minor compared to her own sense of achievement for herself.
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