June 2007

10 hours of lecture, 2 observations to go!

June 27, 2007 18:10

Well, two more days have passed. We made it all the way to May Song today (!) Actually, we are doing lots of observations now (finished #13 today) which I find helpful. We have discussed how to tackle each new piece and previews/preparations for each. And now, I am truly vegging, watching Larry King.

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another day, another twinkle

June 25, 2007 15:29

Day 3 of Suzuki Book 1 training was a combination of lectures and observations. Today we discussed setting up a balanced left hand and the steps to actually playing Twinkle. I observed 2 hours of mini lessons and one group technique class, and saw things ranging from a 4 yr old boy who could play O, Come Little Children very well to a 7 yr old girl (on heelies and drinking mountain dew) who could not maintain focus for more than a few moments. There was a violin & viola recital by Helen Kim and Catherine Lynn right before lunch. I did have to call up my public school teacher glare to get some teenagers in the back of the hall to take their conversation outside. It's probably not considered in the Suzuki spirit, but neither is talking while someone else is playing. We even had a nice little downpour as I was returning to my motel. I'm going to play my dulcimer now and enjoy not being good at it (it still confuses me to have the highest string closest to me, and I can only do it reading tab) before I get back to work on lesson plans for the school year.

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another dreadfully boring blog about camp!

June 24, 2007 17:23

Oh, it's another exciting day at camp. My eyes do tend to glaze over after a few hours of lectures(we do lots more observing tomorrow), and I don't always agree with everything, but here is what we accomplished today.

Day 2 of Suzuki Book 1 training-Today we did lots of "my-turn, your turn" activities. We discussed the foot chart and first lesson activities for a 4 yr old. We also discussed how to help students find a good position for their violin and not skipping the step of holding the violin w no hands
Some first "songs"-plucking the E & A for the "pop" in Pop Goes the Weasel. I learned a new song: Eek, eek, eek,all the little ants, ants, ants, they are going down, down, down, way into the ground, ground, ground. We also tried some pre-left hand work which is designed to strenghten hand muscles and which leads to development of a descending A major scale.

And we even played our Twinkle Variations (ooh-ahh). And to add to the excitement, I created folders on my computer for all of my lesson plans for the school year. Gotta get it done though. Such an exciting life!!!

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Camp, Day 2

June 23, 2007 19:17

Today was day 1 of Book 1 training. Here are some of the things we did:

Basic Idea of the Day: the longer you can keep the 2 sides of the body apart the better. With a typical 4 year old: it's a few months before bow & fingers together; older students progress quicker

Bow set-up: use whole arm to produce sound
can relate sound to colors (like deep purple is deeper sound, pink is lighter); in Book 1 concentrate on denser sound-refine at a later date. Transmission of sound "colors" through contact of middle section of middle 2 fingers of right hand. thumb + middle fingers in charge of tone; index finger steers, pinky in control of tip.

Exercise to feel weight of bow arm without tension: student relaxes arm so full weight is supported by the teacher. Teacher shakes arm some, then drops.

Bow set-ups:
Monkey hanging on a branch & train exercises

straight thumb= shoulder tension; bent thumb direct energy up, not toward screw;

if bow hand is problematic-shake out/start fresh

Bow Games to help secure hold before transferring to the bow-
Stir the Soup, Elevator, Parade-follow the leader
Songs to do motions with a proper bow hold-Up like a rocket song, Wheels on the Bus

With first twinkle rhythm, teacher shakes students hand in rhythm student keeps upper arm fluid). Teacher drives, then student drives teachers arm.
Transfer motion to right hand on left arm
Then bow on shoulder (with cloth to protect clothes)

Always make sure to set bow hold at angle and not // to floor.

Later-practice consecutive down bows and up bows-elbow-hand-tip make circle together.

Also observed 2 mini lessons, both on Long Long Ago. Boy worked on deeper color, girl how to "sing" the melody in your head.

My day finished with observation of the opening "play-in" for violins. My favorite part was watching a 2 yr old bowing a cardboard violin to the first movement of Vivaldi a minor. Tomorrow is a similar schedule. And if you are wondering where your Mary Kay consultant is, she's at a convention being housed at my hotel.

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My Week at Camp

June 23, 2007 06:20

This week, I am attending Suzuki training at the Atlanta Suzuki institute. As a matter of review, and in the hopes that this would be helpful to someone, I thought I would blog as I go. My school is paying for the training, but I am footing the bill for the hotel. The drawback is that this institute is not being offered by a college, so I cannot also receive college credit. Yesterday, I took the Every Child Can course. It's a broad introduction to the Suzuki approach to teaching and it is the first class required when seeking Suzuki training. There were 11 students in my class. 3 were former Suzuki students, 5 had young children themselves, one was a non-musician parent of a Suzuki student, one had never taught before, some were returning to teaching, and some were making their Suzuki teacher-ness more official. I was the only one who teaches at a Suzuki program in the public schools. Our trainer was Carrie Reuning-Hummel. She was one of the first Suzuki students in the U.S. Here are some notes about the areas we discussed:

Language Acquisition- belief that this will happen as a matter of course; repetition; imitation; reinforcement; sound to source; community of learning

Talent vs. Ability/Gifts vs. Talents-look for "readiness" in the child; parent needs to understand why they themsleves love something

Listening-listen until you can't forget; gives a structure so the student can hear what is wrong and refine; use passive & active; "sing" in head (may have to teach that)

Vision vs. Expectation-Vision is the big picture & expectation is more of the moment; think out all the steps you must use to successfully learn a piece; work out "preview" spots in fututre pices so problems are worked out ahead of time.

Established Repertoire-teacher is freed from deciding what piece to do next (at the early levels); Each piece leads to the next; group class is about refining what you already know; teacher must model & educate parents & students about non-competition/not worrying about who is on what piece.

Reason for Review-keep all pieces ready to play; teacher must model this by reviweing in clas; old pieces can be used to address a new technical problem; if short on practice time-listen and review.

Reading-addressed issue of starting it too late; good time is mid-book 1 on non-Suzuki materials; time is right if postural foundation is set and is beginning to read words; must not hear the reading material first. Our trainer dealt with problem herself, as she did not read notes until age 12.

Tonalization-for deep analysis of sound; develop resonance; to settle mind for learning

Characteristics of a Suzuki Teacher-include aiming for excellence and communicating well with children of all ages

Life Learned Skills-learn how to self-teach by breaking a problem into its smallest parts; develop a spirit of community outreach

Recommended Reading:Punished by Rewards, What it Means to be Educated &Unconditional Parenting-all by Alfie Kohn; Teaching from the Balance Point by Ed Kreitman; A Soprano on Her Head.

Miscellaneous teaching tidbits:
twinkle variation A- "everybody down-up"

for review-jar 1: cards with the name of each review pice; jar 2-cards with ways to play each piece

for repetition-let the child decide how many times something should be repeated and analyze the result; roll dice to determine the number of repetitions.

for parent training:
Our trainer works with the parents for 6 weeks-1 2 hr session per week. They discuss practice tips, read assigned materials, and try to establish an understanding of the approach before lessons begin to avoid problems later. Students observe other lessons during this time.

Today, I have the first five hours of book 1 training. We have been told that we will spend 14 hours on what to do before Twinkle.

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sticker shock

June 11, 2007 12:28

No, this is not a blog about some expensive violin or bow.

I just spent some time ordering school uniforms for my soon-to-be-in-kindergarten older daughter. After completing my order, I realized I still has to order blouses to go with the jumpers. Many $$$ later, I had to still order plain black loafers and plain white tennis shoes. I still need to get a belt, but since she never wears them, I have no idea what size to get. While matching up navys and plaids to the appropriate design, I couldn't help but reminisce about the morning chaos in my house as a kid. There were six of us, always trying to find the lovely little snap ties that completed our uniforms. Girls only had 1 uniform choice-a navy jumper with white blouse and white socks. If it was really cold, we got to wear pants under our jumper (no choice of actually wearing pants by themselves). I was girl #4, so I am sure my uniforms were well worn by the time they got to me. Next up is ordering leotards for pre-ballet (for both girls). And if anyone can clue me in on to put hair in a bun (and actually get it to stay) please let me know!

Just to add to the fun, a hunk of metal just fell off my Subaru wagon. And the power supply to my husband's computer just got fried.

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It's RAINING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

June 2, 2007 18:52

It's RAINING!!!!!!!! So long smoke, at least for now!

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School's out

June 1, 2007 05:59

This has been the week to begin recuperating from school until teacher planning starts on July 30 (!). The school year ended on a bit of a sour note for me, as one of the schools I teach at began monkeying with my schedule without considering the long-term implications for my program. Fortunately, a solution was found and 8th grade orchestra is no longer arbitrarily cancelled. Of course, while the pace may slow a little, it's really a myth that teachers have nothing to do in the summer. I spent Tuesday and Wednesday at a workshop about poverty and education. Yesterday, I marked parts for my elementary orchestra, made pretwinkle bows out of dowel rods, wooden spools, and black duct tape, and did an internet search for materials to use for general music. I am teaching a few lessons here and there and playing a variety of weddings. And, if the air quality can quit being compromised by the south Georgia wildfires, I can go outside and blow bubbles with my 2 daughters.

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