Help! Teaching Advice for "Faster Fingers"
I have a student (age 5, almost 6) who is not progressing the way the rest of my students have and I would welcome any advice. I'm a fairly inexperienced teacher and love to glean wisdom from my peers.
My student is very enthusiastic to learn the violin and is a bright, happy child, although a little "flighty" at times. She loves music and is very eager to learn.
Her problem is actually playing the music. She cannot seem to play a piece of music without stopping after a few notes for a couple seconds to comprehend what she's just played and think about what's next. She's also a perfectionist and repeats the note in a song/piece until it is perfectly clear and "pretty" before she moves on. While I appreciate this trait (it doesn't seem to be common in students this young) I can't get her to just keep playing even if a note or two are a little squeaky. She has progressed through the Suzuki Twinkle variations (I was a little hesitant to move her on but she was getting bored) and has now been on Lightly Row off-and-on for about 3 months. I supplement a lot with other songs as well. I've tried breaking down a piece into phrases and having her play them "fast," without stopping and then putting the phrases together but nothing seems to work. It's like her brain and fingers just can't work fast enough.
Any advice would be much appreciated!
I was like this as a young student. It passed with age. Eventually, I left the perfectionism for the study at home, because each minute of my lessons is precious.
Yes, that makes sense! Do you mean that you (as a student) left the "perfectionism practice" to do at home or that your teacher decided to let you do "perfectionism practice" at home? :)
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The title of the post is misleading. It doesn't seem like the problem is finger speed, but rather focus.
How much listening does she do, and can she easily sing the piece with no stops?
Lydia's question is really important. I have limited musical memory and do the same thing when trying to learn folk tunes by ear. If this is the case I'd do lots and lots of aural teaining games. This is something that will improve alot faster at 5 than 50!
Have you checked with the the parent to see if they are 'helping' the child practice? If mom or dad are unintentionally encouraging these bad habits, then you've definitely got an uphill battle.
I am not a violin teacher, but if I were, I'd go baby steps at a time, no pun intended. Not sure if this is what you tried already, I'd have the student play a bar and I'd play along as in a lets play together game, then do the next bar in the same fashion. After several successful independent bars, whatever time it takes, I'd say lets play two bars this time, and neither of us can stop or you lose the game, etc. I'd let her win once in a while.
There will be way more experienced teachers than me who can chip in about aural games, but you might want to focus specifically on rhythm for parts of your lesson. Maybe using body percussion.
We speak in a continuous fashion, but we think in separate words, as on the written page. I think it's sometimes called "chunking".
For a 5 or 6 year old I don't know - it really depends on how she developed that habit of stopping to check how she just did. As others have said, you might check with parents where that habit comes from. But it also could be a natural thing for her. Breaking that playing - thinking - checking habit may be a tough one, either way.
Forgive me if this was mentioned and I missed it. Play along with her! Obviously it's a very bad idea to do that ALL the time, but for just the pure concept of playing with the flow of the music, it absolutely works. And it's a total confidence builder!!! If she can begin to get the "feel" of doing it with you then she has a point to look back to when trying to do it by herself.
Might I, interject here and just say huge fan of your students, past present and future. I suggest you inform them all of 1 more addition to your wonderful teaching methodologies and curriculum. I suggest you tell the students to focus on the strings as if they are emanating the music themselves and to never take your eyes off the center of where they reverberate their melodies but, also to think of the center as themselves, and with each pass of the (bow?)<-w.e.l they themselves are reverberating their love and happiness with songs they make after learning this missing addition to your outstanding and most exquisite curriculum. w.e.l= will explain later, not to huge of a partaker of this particular drama so i don't know all terms related to the complexities of this beaten horse of a terrible thing we call music, and why most violinist still play other peoples music.
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