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#2004546 - 12/26/12 10:59 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: keystring]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2610
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
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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Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
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
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 82
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]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2610
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
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 Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11724
Loc: Canada
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 Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11724
Loc: Canada
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 Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11724
Loc: Canada
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
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5943
Loc: Down Under
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
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2469
Loc: France
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
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
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 Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5510
Loc: Orange County, CA
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]
kck Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 268
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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Registered: 05/28/07
Posts: 103
Loc: Northern California
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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Northern California
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#2034079 - 02/16/13 02:46 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5300
Loc: Europe
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
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
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 Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5510
Loc: Orange County, CA
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
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/07
Posts: 103
Loc: Northern California
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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Northern California
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#2034343 - 02/16/13 04:34 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
piano2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 82
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 Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5510
Loc: Orange County, CA
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
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
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
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5300
Loc: Europe
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
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/07
Posts: 103
Loc: Northern California
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?
_________________________
A2mom
Northern California
Shigeru Kawai SK3, Clavinova CVP207

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#2034593 - 02/17/13 05:02 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5300
Loc: Europe
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
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/07
Posts: 103
Loc: Northern California
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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A2mom
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Shigeru Kawai SK3, Clavinova CVP207

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#2034835 - 02/17/13 03:53 PM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5300
Loc: Europe
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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Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
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 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2610
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
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
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 82
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
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5300
Loc: Europe
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 Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11724
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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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