Etudes vs. Review
I was wondering what people's thoughts are on when students (particularly Suzuki trained) should switch from doing lots of review pieces to doing more etudes. My oldest started etudes really late and only because I supplemented with Schradieck and Kreutzer when he was learning Mozart and Mendelssohn and had never done etudes with his Suzuki teacher. (We had to wait to switch him to an advanced level teacher because his older sister was terminally ill.)
I'm now in a similar situation with my younger one (age 9, late book 6). She's never done etudes beyond a reading book. I bought her Wohlfahrt but her teacher would still rather see her doing 5 review pieces each day. I understand the value of review in beginners, but at this stage, don't you think etudes become more important? She's not all that motivated, so I usually can only get 45 minutes of practice out of her a day, so we need to be judicious about how those minutes are used.
At Suzuki book 6 level, I think review pieces are no longer worth it. Either do more etudes or do more repertoire. My music teachers are the type that assign few to no etudes and tend to do more exercises and scales. We also tend to spend more time on repertoire. I think etudes are not compulsory, but are highly beneficial.
Just my opinion based on observation, but if you have a 9 year old in Suzuki Book 6 it may be time to consider moving him to a different teacher with a different pedagogical approach.
Playing five review pieces a day at Suzuki 6 would be pretty dull for a lot of people. If you feel like your daughter is just going through the motions to appease you, and doesn't seem very motivated, maybe it's Andrew is right and it's time for a new teacher? Etudes are a different type of boring though- unfamiliar enough that you have to concentrate, but not that fun to play. I do think they are very important.
I would be very concerned if I had a child of 9 years and book 6 doing boring repetitive review instead of etudes and such.
Thank you to everyone for the advice. I suppose I have a warped sense of motivation since my older child happily practiced 2 or 3 hours a day from the time he was very little and has always been very intense with his music study. My younger one (the 9yo) does really enjoy playing -- she's not a huge fan of practicing, but loves orchestra, playing with her brother, etc. She's just less motivated comparatively, but probably within the range of normal for a 9yo.
Book 6 is a great point to switch off Suzuki, and that's especially true when it doesn't sound like the kid is getting great teaching. Even the most purist Official Suzuki Stuff only teacher (which no Suzuki teacher trainer would encourage, I think) would at least have done the Position Etudes and Quint Etudes with the kid.
The point of review is to improve tone, clarity, expression etc on familiar ground, without the "distraction" of learning a new work or exercise.
Elaboration on Adrian Heath's remarks on the point of review:
I think Andy Victor nailed it.
Thank you all. She does do 3 octave scales (all major and minor keys plus arpeggios) so she isn't completely bereft of technical practice! We will work through the Wohlfahrt together and reduce the review to primarily what she needs for summer camp.
A certain amount of review is essential and enjoyable. When I was working on grade 7/8 guitar, I loved going back and reviewing grade 3 Brouwer. But sometimes you can be glad to see the back of a piece, and to be forced to review everything would kill my interest in the whole process. If Suzuki insists on reviewing everything, is it because perhaps it was rushed too much first time round? I've seen one or two Suzuki players on Youtube who reminded me of Honda robots, but I don't want to over-generalise an entire method from one or two examples.
One of my Suzuki trainers challenged us, a class of teachers, many conservatory-trained players, that we could name any advanced level technique and he could come up with a Suzuki repertoire-based etude for it. I don't remember the exact examples but it was pretty impressive. You need to know the original material well enough to transform it though, and if your teacher doesn't give you that kind of stuff, maybe you would want the separate printed material.
Regarding "If Suzuki insists on reviewing everything, is it because perhaps it was rushed too much first time round?":
Yes I've seen at summer camps where Suzuki pieces from Book 1 were morphed into challenging etudes ... sautille Perpetual Motion transposed into C Major, etc. Just not sure how that's really better than Kreutzer No. 2. After a while I think one would get to the point where one really does not want to hear Perpetual Motion yet one more time. By the same token I don't know any teacher who does all of the K2 bowings before moving on to Sevcik.
Original Suzuki students, didnt they stay at a special kindergarden type of place, where they studied all day, so it cannot be compared to normal toddlers coming for one 15 lesson a week.
Thanks Mengwei--your discussion goes a long way towards helping me understand the Suzuki method.
"I find it a bit silly to want children to play the same thing over and over again once its learned."
I just want to make clear that I am a huge supporter of review in the early books and at younger ages. My kids were religious with review through book 4 and still continued it thereafter. And we did everything - Perpetual Motion in every single key, played the major pieces in minor, did most of the early songs in various positions, etc. This was extremely valuable, and enjoyable for my kids up to age 8 or so.
Just to address it for the record, to prevent continued misperception, I think there were (are?) Suzuki-inspired day schools, but that was not a required format for the "original" beginners of Suzuki violin (although they were likely listening to their cassette tapes "all day" at home). From what I've heard (I was not there), master class style instruction was also common, i.e., Suzuki working with one student in front of an audience, who would be learning by observing.
+1 to Irene. For us it was "Balto"
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