September 14, 2012 at 8:10 PMOne of my youngest students was getting a bit bored with "Twinkle." Parents and teachers can attest to this common phenomenon. "Twinkle" is the first tune that many students, especially Suzuki students, learn, and it has five variations. They are learning some 45 skills in the process of learning Twinkle, and the whole endeavor can take a long time.
Very often it helps to go "sideways" instead of "forward," at this point. In other words, instead of going ahead with songs that require new skills, stay at the same level for a while and learn a lot of songs at that level. This gives the student a chance to build their foundation and repeat simple patterns, without getting bored. Also, the fact that they are playing a lot of songs helps them feel a sense of progress.
While there are many books out there which can serve this function, I'd like to share a book I've recently used that my youngest students have enjoyed. It's called 90 Favorite Songs, Classical Melodies, and Fiddle Tunes, written by violinist Lisa Berman. I had picked up several of her books while at the Suzuki Association of the Americas Conference in June in Minneapolis, where she is also based.
Suzuki's idea, in his first book, was to teach children folk songs that would come easily because they were simple and familiar. Lisa's book is full of very common kids' songs, most of which my students find to be very familiar: The Muffin Man, The Wheels on the Bus, The More We Get Together, Taps, Clementine, Simple Gifts, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, If You're Happy and You Know It, Oh Susannah, When the Saints Go Marching In, Star Spangled Banner, Yankee Doodle, Turkey in the Straw, Danny Boy, and Theme from Beethoven Symphony No. 9.
One can teach these songs by rote without listening to recordings, as the students already know them well. And if they don't, then pick another song -- there are more than 90.
Lisa has written and produced entire line of products all under the name Simply Violin. The materials fit the name: they are visually and conceptually simple, and thus easy to understand and use. For example, Lisa told me that she hired someone who designed signs for emergency use -- in other words, signs that could be read very quickly and easily -- to design her Circle of Fifths chart for Simply Violin. (I got a dozen postcard-sized ones and gave them to my students, instructing them to post them next to their beds and gaze at them while falling asleep…)
Other books by Lisa include a scale book with one, two and three octaves; a book of 40 easy fiddle tunes appropriate for a student in about Suzuki Book 2-3; also a more advanced fiddle book, a sacred tunes book and a Christmas book. All her books listed and described on this page.
As I said, there are a variety of books one can use to supplement beginning methods, but I just wanted to share this one, as its straightforward presentation and plentiful familiar songs make it so easy to use. Thanks, Lisa!
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