Tips from Suzuki Association videos

In today’s lesson, I incorporated two items from the Suzuki Association videos that are being offered this month.

First, I shared this slogan with M at dinner:

Average performers practice a piece until they can get it right. But excellent performers practice a piece until they cannot get it wrong.

Later, each time we she finished a review pieces, I asked (after asking her what musical things she noticed that she did well) : “Do you know that song so well you cannot get it wrong?”

Second, I used a tambourine as a nonverbal cue/post-song reward for review songs. With each song, I asked her to focus on one thing — either keeping her right hand properly oriented to the plane of the guitar (i.e., not falling down), or keeping her eyes on her left hand. I told her that as she played, if I noticed her not doing the one thing, I’d tap the tambourine. And if she played through the song and I tapped it no more than once (I deliberately didn’t require perfection), she would get to shake the tambourine herself like a crazy person. (A Suzuki teacher recommended doing this with a desk-hotel-style bell, but a tambourine was the closest I could come). This was a very effective tool.

Overall, we did:

  • The first 16 bars of Meadow Minuet. M needed me to play some of the new passages for her, but she got the notes quickly and was more cooperative than yesterday. I did have to slow her down — she was playing the notes pretty carelessly, without paying much attention to her tone.
  • Three review songs, picked from our review-song bag:
    • Brother John. On this, I had her pay attention to her right hand and her tone. She did well, though the notes are very rough.
    • Lightly Row. On this, I had her look at the left hand. She played this very nicely, with sensitive crescendos.
    • Perpetual Motion. I also had her look at her left hand, and she did remember some crescendos. She didn’t get the form entirely right, though.
  • Conducting: She conducted me on Lightly Row and Aunt Rhody. She’s much more solid rhythmically, though she is saying the note names by memory, not by imagining what she would play. Apparently the latter is what her group teacher wants her to do. But she memorizes pretty quickly, and I doubt she can put aside the memorized notes to think about what she would be playing as a way to name the notes.
  • Note geography: As I was retuning her guitar, she went through 12 of Andrea Cannon’s flashcards and identified the notes found on the first 5 frets of strings 1 and 2 and the first 2 frets of string 3.

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