Ideas to help my dughter memory better
Hi, Ive got a young 5 year old daughter and from time to time Ive resorted to your brains to help me get ideas how to help her playing.
Shes doing Suzuki with a good teacher but she seems a bit different than the rest as her ability to play (and read the notes) is far greater than her ability to remember. She learns quite easily but she has to see the notes first. She can learn aurally short verses but if she is to learn any piece her level she has to see the notes,
I and the teacher make her learn the pieces by heart too, first in short segments but after she has learned the whole piece she sort of looses interest when the piece should be drilled into her memory as it is very difficult and frustrating to get everything right at the same time. She can do one ar two long pieces from memory ok, but the book concerts are really painfull even though she only plays a half of the pieces (the harder pieces usually).
She seems to make many mistakes almost regardless of how much we practise. 7 months ago she did book 1 and now book 2 and has been basically dying to get to play book 3 and alas sadly forget book 2.
Last time I asked you about developing aural memory better and got the idea of playing her 5 notes for her to repeat which we did daily and it did really help her, she run the second book maybe because of that.
But, alas, the pieces get longer and more complicated so they are harder to remember.
Im quit puzzled with this thing, I dont understand what part of her memory is the one that is not working at the same level as her ability to play. Is it motor memory or aural memory that is the problem? Or is it just that as she is only 5 her memory is not fully developed as it seems like a sieve. Is it a capacity issue? If she puts something into her memory then some other things fall from it.
We practise daily about 40 mins active practise and listen to the record for another 45 mins.
Are there any here that have experienced similar things with your students or maybe yourself as a child? Any ideas?
It is a bit difficult as Suzuki method stresses the ability to remember and that is the problem. She just doesnt fit the general model of a suzuki student. If she were forced to remember all the past suzuki pieces, she would most certainly quit as it would be just boring drilling in which she could never succeed. She would like to learn new bow techniques and sight read new pieces, but that really is not the essence of Suzuki. By the way, her teacher is great and has more or less accepted that this is how she is so some Suzuki teachers are flexible Im glad to say.
Luckily she herself doesnt mind the mistakes so much and though Im puzzled I dont stress her with that. And I have to admit that I was not good in playing by memory (piano) when I was a child, I did make a lot of mistakes. However I did not make many mistakes when playing a bit more modern or completely atonal music. But Mozart, Haydn aso where painfull to remember. And that I guess is funny as how can it be that it is easier to remember atonal music?
Thank you for having the time and interest to read thorough, this is a bit of a rant I know, but there you are, no questions are stupid in my mind to be asked :)
She's five years old. I think therein lies your answer.
I've always had a terrible memory, but curiously I'm not too bad at memorising guitar music.
One of the central tenets of the Suzuki approach is going back over all your pieces, all the way back to Twinkle. Ideally a child who is in Book 8 should be able to play anything from the previous seven books, from memory. Some teachers stress that more than others. And some kids warm to it more than others too. I have two daughters, so I have seen both sides -- one (younger, cellist) who memorizes everything within earshot, from children's CDs to her older sister's violin repertoire, but sight-reading is a struggle (it's improving as we have set aside family time on Sundays to read trios with yours truly at the piano). Meanwhile the other child (older, violinist) always struggled with memorization but reads very well. I'm proud of both of them. They're both very accomplished, just in different ways.
Thank you for the replies !
I am wondering if Suzuki is the best approach for a child like your daughter. Perhaps a more traditional approach with a teacher who is good with young children might be less frustrating. Given your description of everything you are currently doing in an attempt to help your daughter (all of which is very good), it makes me wonder if there is an organic brain difference, and if that is the case, you're fighting a losing battle.
Can she sing the pieces from memory? Can she sing other, non-Suzuki children's songs from memory?
We are bad at singing the both of us, cannot keep in tune. We both were very late speakers and needed special help to start speaking. But she can sing the pieces all right, just not in tune, with the memory issues of course. So Im thinking she does hear them in her brain. And she does hum her pieces when she plays with legos sometimes. She doesnt sing any other tunes though, and does not sing cartoon toons and such,
The reason I asked about singing from memory is that it shows how much she's internalized the tune, away from the violin.
It is quite obvious that memory varies a great deal from person to person and within an individual, from subject to subject.
Personally, I wouldn't obsess about making young students memorize music. For me, the reading scan is much more important. I've had Suzuki-trained students come to me that had to be re-trained to read music so they could get by in their youth or school orchestra. Memory is nice...but reading is crucial. Ask the typical professional musician how much of their career is spent reading vs playing from memory.
And maybe there's no such thing as "memory" per se - a person may have a good visual memory and a poor linguistic memory or a poor aural memory and a good verbal memory. and so on.
The "I Can Read Music" books are great, if reading is the issue here. I'm guessing that she's having memory issues because she is primarily relying on muscle memory (basically just physical memory, not knowing which pitches/notes but that she is just trying to remember where her fingers are supposed to go on the fingerboard). I would suggest really working on reading music with her (there are a lot of fun/different ways to do this that would help and not make it seem so daunting) so that when she learns a piece she can think "Ok. B first, then 2nd finger C," etc. I started with Suzuki books but not learning them aurally as it is popularly taught. Some would say this is bad because it makes the child think too much about the music in front of them, but I think an aspect that helped me was that I began to develop reading much earlier and when memory was necessary, was able to think back to the pattern of the notes and even visualize the music in front of me. That's the kind of learner I am, and maybe that's the kind of learner your daughter is, too. Just some things to try! Best of luck!!
Ear training is taught, not inherent. Like music reading, it takes practice.
Clara, it is the opposite. She has been reading notes for a year now. She reds notes the level she plays. She loves reading notes, she begs me to give her notes always.
On the forgetting previous books, that’s common without review. Having been a Suzuki kid, I knew to have my child regularly play previous pieces from the start. If you are practicing 45 minutes a day, at least 15 minutes should be review. Or if that’s boring, alternate days, or what is reviewed each day. At tempo, review is very quick. My kid often plays half the Suzuki book before he’s getting into the new stuff, to get it out of the way first. It’s a huge struggle some days, but on other days it’s over before he realizes.
Jane wrote, "From an artistic perspective, it is one of the most vital parts to be free to express oneself musically IMHO. It’s why most soloists play without music, most orchestra players are watching the conductor and each other."
40 minutes of practice and 45 minutes of active listening (whatever that entails) seems like a lot for a 5 year old. You could be dealing with burnout. If you're pushing too much or for too long, their brains don't engage fully. Watch for the signs of inattention and redirect. With my students that age, when they start fidgeting or don't seem to be progressing in a passage, I switch to something else - a game, another concept, another activity, etc. Teach your daughter how to tell she needs a 'brain break' and respect that she asks for it. Try a break halfway through a practice session if you're going to have them last that long.
Suzuki is based on aural and physical learning first and reading later (similar to language learning wherein a child hears language first before speaking/reading/writing). It's not about being "forced to remember" either; the memory is supposed to be from exposure: immersive, passive listening to recordings, improving your old pieces by applying new musical and technical skills to them (not "boring drilling" playing through with no purpose), and participating in group classes where the repertoire is being heard and played often and social fun is being injected into the learning process. If your sole learning is playing Suzuki pieces for 1-4 weeks and moving on, you're probably not getting what was meant to be gotten in the repertoire sequence and it could help to be using additional material.