Friday, November 2, 2007

today is the last day...

of my glorious, lazy Fridays. I know, how depressing, right?
Starting next week, I will be officially at the bakery every Wednesday and Friday, with a sprinkling of Thursdays and Saturdays.

I had a really fun first day on Wednesday this week - I learned all about espresso, and how I can control the tastiness level of the drinks. The coffee-guy said I was a natural.

I really love toothpastefordinner.

Anyways... I don't know why I always feel the need to small-talk people in to my blog posts.
Here is what I actually feel like writing about today:
It dawned on me through reading a post at the Internet Cello Society Forums that most people really don't have any idea what the Suzuki Method is all about. I am a relative newbie to the Suzuki Method, but now that I understand it, I can't believe that I ever taught in a different way.

Dr. Sinichi Suzuki was a Japanese violinist who at some point noticed that all children learn to speak their native tongue through nothing more than repetition and praise. He let that idea germinate for a while, and then he started experimenting teaching the violin to children the very same way. Naturally, he very quickly had really young kids playing at an extremely high level. There is much more to it, but the native tongue idea is one of the major building blocks of this teaching method. Like most people, I too was under the impression that "Suzuki kids don't read music." This is a huge misconception. reading IS introduced, but only when it is appropriate. When a child is learning to speak English, you don't give them a Proust novel, right? In Suzuki's method, reading can wait - this allows the student to truly focus on what they are doing. It's not easy to really concentrate on your bow, if you are busy looking at a bunch of gobbledygook (otherwise known as musical notation) on a page. Aside from the native tongue theory (repetition and praise), is the notion that children will succeed if you give them attainable goals. In "traditional" string teaching, a goal is often too large, too general, or too difficult to attain quickly. In the Suzuki method, a goal can be something as simple as sitting upright, in good playing position for 30 seconds (this is hard for a 5 year-old!).

In my recent teaching experiences, I have found the following things:
Since returning from teacher training in August, my students now demonstrate the following things:
* Beautiful bow hands
* Great tone, as a result of a free moving bow arm
* Great playing posture/seating position
* Understanding "The Facts" (what note, which finger, and on which string)

Before I went the Suzuki route, I couldn't honestly say any of those things.

I think that a big issue in the Suzuki world is that the materials are SO readily available. Any schmuck can have their students use the books, or pay their dues to the Suzuki Association and call themselves a Suzuki Teacher. Heck, once you are trained on Book 1, their aren't any guidelines set up to make someone continue their teacher training. What is the result of this? A lot of bad teaching is being done out there under the guise of being the Suzuki Method.

Regardless, I know that there is good teaching going on out there - I saw it growing up in Buffalo (where there is an incredible Suzuki School), I saw it this past weekend at a workshop in Hickory, and I saw it at the Institute where I did my training.

Happy Friday :)

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