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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: 5598
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.
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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: 5598
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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#2002081 - 12/20/12 10:19 AM Re: How are songs taught/learned in Suzuki? [Re: asenicz]
Peter K. Mose Online   content
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: 5598
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.
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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: 5598
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: 11855
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: 11855
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: 11855
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: 11855
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: 5598
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: 5598
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: 5598
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.
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I am a competent teacher.


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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
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11855
Loc: Canada
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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