Suzuki Pedagogy training with Helen Brunner

May 28, 2005, 11:41 PM · I have been practicing with great enthusiasm in the last weeks...on Suzuki Books 7 and 8!

In two weeks I'll drive to Snowmass, Colorado, for the Colorado Suzuki Institute, where I will take two weeks of teacher training courses, one on Book 7 and one on Book 8. My teacher will be Helen Brunner, who, as I understand, sold all her worldly possessions so she could buy a Amati violin. And she wears striped socks. And teaches marvelously, from the one time I observed her. I adore her already.

She e-mailed to add some supplemental pieces that we should learn as well as the Suzuki pieces. I'm finding this to be no short-order task, learning all this music. I knew some of it, but honestly, I never studied either book as a student. And I've never taught either book in its entirety. I've avoided them by assigning things like Accolay, etudes, scales, and other concerti. It seems that once a student has reached Book 5, he or she starts needing an individual prescription for building on strengths and resolving difficulties. The prescription has to sustain the student's enthusiasm while also exposing him/her to a range of styles and techniques.

The Suzuki books are heavy on Baroque. While I take great issue with a lot of the “Suzuki” fingerings and bowings presented, the pieces themselves are all quite worthwhile. Though I might have trudged with dragging feet through this sequence as a teenager, these pieces somehow suit my current frame of mind. They include things like the Bach Violin Concerto No. 1, the Handel Sonata in A, an Eccles sonata, and much Bach.

I was tickled to find a watered-down movement from the Bach C major Sonata in Book 8, what is that doing there? I'm not tickled that it's watered down, though perhaps that serves some purpose. I'll try to be open-minded. It's the third movement, which may be my favorite, tied only with the Adagio, Fugue and Allegro Assai. :) I have an excuse to practice my Bach even more.

I can see, though, how going straight through these books might render a student crossed-eyed and craving a bit of ear candy, maybe a show-off piece? Which is undoubtedly why our teacher gave us a De Beriot concerto and some other romantic pieces to chew on.

I'm eating it up! I thought I was jumping through hoops, going through this Suzuki certification process. After all, I teach at all these levels, and I teach well. But I am learning a great deal, widening my own world as I expand on what I can offer my students. It feels fantastic.


May 29, 2005 at 04:29 PM · I've heard wonderful things about Helen from Cheryl and Liz :) hoping to get in touch with her when I move to England.

May 30, 2005 at 07:06 PM · I know what you mean about the c maj largo, its gorgeous maybe the most beautiful of all the movements of the s&p's

deberiot now there is a compser i love and i cant seem to get enough of his music, there never seems to be enough of it around

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