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Adult learning with Suzuki method?


greg
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I am a 36 year old who recently purchased a violin and would like to take lessons. I have heard, seen (tv programs) and read a little about the Suzuki method of learning music, however most often it is children who are featured in reference to Suzuki method (that I am aware of anyway). Has anyone had any experiences you can tell me about learning thru Suzuki method as an adult? Is it worthwhile? Is it geared towards adults, or too frustrating for us? Are other more traditional methods of learning music more or less valuable for an adult whose habits and ways of learning may be a little more rigid? I realize that these questions are asking for personal preferences and experiences, but perhaps such answers can help me decide which method is right for me. Thank you.

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when I was your age, my son was in Suzuki.

Working with him is how I started learning to

play. Repetition works for all ages. Knowing the

tune in your head makes any tune immensely easier

to play.

So yes; that is definitely a viable method of

starting out on the violin!

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Greg,

I am a 37 year old that at 36 decided to return to

the violin after a 23yr lay off. Because it had been

so long, and I had not really gained a lot of skill

during my youth, I decided to find a teacher. The

one I ended up with is primarily a Suzuki instructor,

but she also teaches traditional fiddling as well.

We have pretty much followed the Suzuki method with

the following exceptions. My instructor has used

supplimental technical exercizes such as Shradick,

Stitts and Wolfhart (I hope I'm spelling these correct,

sorry ADean, I don't have my copies in front of me),

along with three octave scales with double stops

and chromatics. The Suzuki method seems to use the

repertoire as technical studies, but this may not

be enough. I have really enjoyed working through

the Suzuki repertoire, and really like the way the

pieces progress in difficulty.

The other exception is that I do not participate in the

group lessons or solo days. I actually somewhat resent

this. I think anyone, regardless of age, should be able

to particpate in these based on where they are at in the

Suzuki program, not based on their age. My instructor,

however, make the case that these programs really are for

children, and the presence of adults would be too

intimidating. She also makes the case that adults

have opportunities not open to children, such as

playing in a community orchestra, or going away

for a week to a music camp. I don't buy any of this. An

adult that has not yet gained the skill necessary to

play in an orchestra has no performance opportunities,

and thus does not get used to what if feels like to

play in front of an audience, no matter how terrible

one may sound. And I disagree that children will feel

intimidated, quite the opposite, it is the adult who

feels intimidated. In general, I really love my

instructor, she is patient, encouraging, and great

with adults, but I disagree with her on this one

issue. I seem to remember a story from someone on

this board, perhaps from Elaine P., about performing

in her first recital as an adult with a group of

children. I don't know if it was through the Suzuki

program, but I think performing frequently beginning

at the earliest stages of learing an instrument

is important at any age.

Tina

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: Hi Greg. I am a violin teacher, and use the Suzuki method most of the time. Approximately half of my students are past 30. Maybe I can shed some light on your questions.

One of the attributes of the Suzuki method is that students learn to play by ear. Remember when you were a teenager? You could sing all the popular songs you hears on the radio because you heard them so much. If you played an instrument, you could probably play along, even though you didn't have music in front of you. In Suzuki, you learn to play the violin the same way. You listen to the reperatoire, and learn to play. You have a teacher who teaches you the actual skills you need in order to play. The reperatoire is arranged in increasing technical difficulty, and the skills are presented incrementally. If you do what your teacher says, and listen to the tapes, you will learn to play.

The Suzuki method was developed with children in mind, but it works well for all ages. Children and adults learn differently. I use te same method for my adult students as I use for the children, but I speak to the adults differently. I always tell the adults the teaching point of the piece they are working on. This seems to help them get the point. It usually confuses a child to be told the teaching point. Sometimes, I tell a child "do this", and then demonstrate. This works well boe a child, but not for an adult. As a teacher, I have to be aware of the person in front of me, and teach to that person. Every person, regardless of age, gets a tailor-made lesson. I don't teach exactly the same way to any 2 people. At the end of the day, sometimes I am very tired!

I think the Suzuki method works for all ages. It's the teacher that matters. Some people relate to only one age group. Before you choose your teacher, make sure s/he relates to adults. Most teachers will give you a sample lesson, or will allow you to observe a lesson or two. If you can observe, you can get an idea of whether or not that teacher is right for you.

The biggest mistake I see people make when they select a teacher is this: They tend to select someone who is convenient, or who charges less. The best favor you can do yourself is to observe and/or interview enough teachers so you KNOW the person you choose is the right teacher for you. Even if you have to drive over an hour to get to your lesson, and even if your teacher charges a lot more (or less) than someone else. I take lessons, too, and I drive 2 hours 1 way for my lessons. I don't care, because it's worth the trip.

Good luck in your search for a teacher. Keep us posted on your progress.

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: Hi Tina. I agree with you - you should be allowed to participate in group and solo days. I have students ranging from 5 to 56 in my studio. They all participate in everything. The kids love seeing an adult beginner get up and play a solo. Sometimes, an adult and child form a friendship because of the experience they are sharing. The relationship benefits both of them. I wish your teacher would reconsider this policy. Do like "Dear Abby" says, and show her this letter . . .

Good luck!

Janie

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Hi Janieb,

I really liked your letter. I have never had the

Suzuki method, but I do read a lot on the psychology

of (music) learning, and one thing I read was that

one of the most common and deady mistakes is to

practice with constant eye contact to the music-

most people keep looking at the notes even if

they are playing very simple passages like scales

ect. But always staring at the music keeps you

from really experiencing the music YOU are making-

you really aren't hearing what your are playing

or experiencing what your arms, fingers and the rest of your

body is doing. Intonation problems and poor bowing

habits slip in.

So what I do now with new music (like Nardini!)

is try to memorize the way it sounds, going phrase

by phrase. Once I have it in my head, I also play

it by ear; while playing the melody in my head,

I am now free to concentrate on sound, bowing ect.

While playing I often look in the mirror to check

up on bowing/body position. If something sounds

less than desirable, I play "detective" instead

of repeating the same faulty bowing over and over

again- I do a "body check" and look for the root

of the problem.

Somehow going phrase by phrase also helps me get

a feeling for the structure of the piece, making

expression expression, dynamic ect. come more easily

and naturally.

Do you know what I mean? Does anybody else practice

like this?

Melinda Alice

Hi Greg. I am a violin teacher, and use the Suzuki method most of the time. Approximately half of my students are past 30. Maybe I can shed some light on your questions.

: One of the attributes of the Suzuki method is that students learn to play by ear. Remember when you were a teenager? You could sing all the popular songs you hears on the radio because you heard them so much. If you played an instrument, you could probably play along, even though you didn't have music in front of you. In Suzuki, you learn to play the violin the same way. You listen to the reperatoire, and learn to play. You have a teacher who teaches you the actual skills you need in order to play. The reperatoire is arranged in increasing technical difficulty, and the skills are presented incrementally. If you do what your teacher says, and listen to the tapes, you will learn to play.

: The Suzuki method was developed with children in mind, but it works well for all ages. Children and adults learn differently. I use te same method for my adult students as I use for the children, but I speak to the adults differently. I always tell the adults the teaching point of the piece they are working on. This seems to help them get the point. It usually confuses a child to be told the teaching point. Sometimes, I tell a child "do this", and then demonstrate. This works well boe a child, but not for an adult. As a teacher, I have to be aware of the person in front of me, and teach to that person. Every person, regardless of age, gets a tailor-made lesson. I don't teach exactly the same way to any 2 people. At the end of the day, sometimes I am very tired!

: I think the Suzuki method works for all ages. It's the teacher that matters. Some people relate to only one age group. Before you choose your teacher, make sure s/he relates to adults. Most teachers will give you a sample lesson, or will allow you to observe a lesson or two. If you can observe, you can get an idea of whether or not that teacher is right for you.

: The biggest mistake I see people make when they select a teacher is this: They tend to select someone who is convenient, or who charges less. The best favor you can do yourself is to observe and/or interview enough teachers so you KNOW the person you choose is the right teacher for you. Even if you have to drive over an hour to get to your lesson, and even if your teacher charges a lot more (or less) than someone else. I take lessons, too, and I drive 2 hours 1 way for my lessons. I don't care, because it's worth the trip.

: Good luck in your search for a teacher. Keep us posted on your progress.

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: I am a 36 year old who recently purchased a violin and would like to take lessons. I have heard, seen (tv programs) and read a little about the Suzuki method of learning music, however most often it is children who are featured in reference to Suzuki method (that I am aware of anyway). Has anyone had any experiences you can tell me about learning thru Suzuki method as an adult? Is it worthwhile? Is it geared towards adults, or too frustrating for us? Are other more traditional methods of learning music more or less valuable for an adult whose habits and ways of learning may be a little more rigid? I realize that these questions are asking for personal preferences and experiences, but perhaps such answers can help me decide which method is right for me. Thank you.

The violin teacher I had that taught me how to play

used a little bit of Suzuki but, not much because it doesn't teach

you to sight read. Personally I don't think it is a good way to go. Maybe use a little

mixed with other methods but, that is all.

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: Greg,

: I am a 37 year old that at 36 decided to return to

: the violin after a 23yr lay off. Because it had been

: so long, and I had not really gained a lot of skill

: during my youth, I decided to find a teacher. The

: one I ended up with is primarily a Suzuki instructor,

: but she also teaches traditional fiddling as well.

: We have pretty much followed the Suzuki method with

: the following exceptions. My instructor has used

: supplimental technical exercizes such as Shradick,

: Stitts and Wolfhart (I hope I'm spelling these correct,

: sorry ADean, I don't have my copies in front of me),

: along with three octave scales with double stops

: and chromatics. The Suzuki method seems to use the

: repertoire as technical studies, but this may not

: be enough. I have really enjoyed working through

: the Suzuki repertoire, and really like the way the

: pieces progress in difficulty.

: The other exception is that I do not participate in the

: group lessons or solo days. I actually somewhat resent

: this. I think anyone, regardless of age, should be able

: to particpate in these based on where they are at in the

: Suzuki program, not based on their age. My instructor,

: however, make the case that these programs really are for

: children, and the presence of adults would be too

: intimidating. She also makes the case that adults

: have opportunities not open to children, such as

: playing in a community orchestra, or going away

: for a week to a music camp. I don't buy any of this. An

: adult that has not yet gained the skill necessary to

: play in an orchestra has no performance opportunities,

: and thus does not get used to what if feels like to

: play in front of an audience, no matter how terrible

: one may sound. And I disagree that children will feel

: intimidated, quite the opposite, it is the adult who

: feels intimidated. In general, I really love my

: instructor, she is patient, encouraging, and great

: with adults, but I disagree with her on this one

: issue. I seem to remember a story from someone on

: this board, perhaps from Elaine P., about performing

: in her first recital as an adult with a group of

: children. I don't know if it was through the Suzuki

: program, but I think performing frequently beginning

: at the earliest stages of learing an instrument

: is important at any age.

: Tina

My teacher really dislikes the Suzuki method, and if I happen to show him a piece

I would like to play out of my daughters old Suzuki book that I would like to play,

he will let me work on it but only after he changes the bowing and fingering to suit

him.

The really neat thing that students have available here though, is that my teachers conducts

an adults only beginner sting ensemble, which other teacher's students also participate in.

Perhaps someone in your area could try to get such a group going. We all really like it as it

gives us the change to learn the skills needed to play in a group and follow a conductor, while

learning different music than we would play in our lessons. We do pay the teacher a fee for

each nine/ten week session. It seems to work well. He also has a more advanced string ensemble

that we can "graduate" to when our ability to play increases.

Sorry if this messeage is a little disjointed--I am on a business trip and the screen on the computer

I am using is really too small for me to see well. I am really anxious to get back to playing my

violin again, especially after the earlier posts about layoffs from practice.

Claire

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I am an adult beginner (41) and have been learning for 3 and one half years. I originally started out playing with the Suzuki Method as I thought this would be the easiest way to learn as I had taught myself to play songs on the guitar,as a teenager, by listening to albums. Since I quit taking Suzuki (two yrs ago) because my teacher moved out of town, I have been learning various skills by playing music containing the appropriate skills for my level. My ability to read notes has improved. The suzuki method contains small "skill sets" in each piece. I found the tapes invaluable but I think I relied on them too heavily versus reading the notes. There is nothing wrong with this except that, looking back,it could be limiting if one wants to learn other music outside of the program and to deveop ones own interpretations from the music instead of someone elses. I believe a balnace of susuki with other music would be not only be more fun but but may provide a broader knowlege base, especially regarding technique and interpretation. Another post on this string mentioned that their teacher did not allow them to play in the Suzuki recitals. You might want to ask your possible teacher if this is encouraged or not. To offer this opportunity to adult students or any student seems to indicate open mindedness and an enjoyment about playing music. I think it should be encouraged or a least the opportunity offered to the student regardless of age. Your music should be fun.

Rob W.

__________________________________________

: I am a 36 year old who recently purchased a violin and would like to take lessons. I have heard, seen (tv programs) and read a little about the Suzuki method of learning music, however most often it is children who are featured in reference to Suzuki method (that I am aware of anyway). Has anyone had any experiences you can tell me about learning thru Suzuki method as an adult? Is it worthwhile? Is it geared towards adults, or too frustrating for us? Are other more traditional methods of learning music more or less valuable for an adult whose habits and ways of learning may be a little more rigid? I realize that these questions are asking for personal preferences and experiences, but perhaps such answers can help me decide which method is right for me. Thank you.

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Hi Tina: good memory! That was me playing with the kiddies! You're right, I was the one feeling intimidated. The thing one needs to remember though, is it doesn't matter what one's AGE is in a group setting, but one's SKILL level! I'm my teacher's only adult violin student, though she did pick up an adult beginner cellist last fall. Anyway, my teacher most definitely does NOT go Suzuki, though she does use the books for the repertoire component. I'm a firm believer in playing in a group setting as soon as possible, by the way. With our group, we were all beginners(no matter our age), so we played simple pieces, but over the past 3+ years, the pieces have progressed in difficulty as our skills advance. I think the opportunity presented itself to us because my teacher used to teach violin in the public school system, so she was very much geared towards group work for her students. It's an expectation of our recitals to do both group work an our solo piece. Granted the solo is the terror of my

life, it gets easier every time and it also makes performing in public in our community string ensemble easier(and our student group too, but that's only twice a year. Our community group plays once a month.). And you are also right, Tina, that you can't possibly play in a community orchestra if you haven't received some training. Playing in a group(be it 4 or 40 musicians), requires an entirely different set of skills than playing alone. Your timing must be impeccable, you have to watch your conductor, your music, your first chair AND keep your cool! Not so easy! Tina I think you should talk to your teacher more about including adults in the group setting. Among other things, it teaches the kids a precious lesson: it's never too late to learn! Also, I think the kids in my group actually respect me for having the guts to go out and play with them(especially at that first recital!). On a closing note: I once read "the violin is not an instrument meant to be played alone..." Too true, too true!

You haven't felt a rush quite like the rush you feel when it all comes together :-}

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Hi Janie: you pretty much said it! I have played duets with one student who is now 15, on several occasions. Not only do she and I connect more, even her parents have expressed a lot of appreciation to me for playing with their daughter. Not that I think I'm doing her any big favors(she's more advanced than I am), but they are telling me they appreciate my willingness to throw away the generational barrier stuff. I think they appreciate seeing their daughter "connect" with another adult too, because needless to say when we are 15 our parents are "totally weird!"(my duet partner's words, not mine!)

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: What a great idea! I have to admit, I am one of those people who must have constant visual contact with the music, even when it's memorized. It's like a crutch. I'm going to try your method and see what changes come about. Thanks for the tip!

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: You have hit the nail right on the head. The thing I like least about the Suzuki method is that you don't learn how to read the music. This is very limiting if you want to learn to play other things. Over the past year, I have started teaching my students how to read the music. Those who are old enough to read words start reading music right away. The younger ones wait until their eyes are mature enough. Generally, I let my students learn 5 or 6 pieces by ear in Suzuki, then start teaching them to read. I want to keep the channel from the ears to the fingers open, just as I want to open the channel from the eyes to the fingers. Most of my students who are children want to stick with the Suzuki literature, but most of the adults want to play other things. I like it best when the student is an active partner in his/her learning, so I always respect his/her wishes. Recently, I have started teaching everyone the 2nd violin parts to the pieces, too. They really seem to enjoy it. It sounds great, too. the best part of it is that the students get the experience of playing in 2-part harmony.

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:You know the old saying - It takes an entire village to raise one child. It's about a lot more than just playing the violin. When an adult who is not a parent, teacher, cop, or other authority figure interacts with a child as a peer, all that emotional baggage is left out of the relationship. This allows wonderful things to happen. Your teacher is lucky to have you in her studio!

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I have used the Suzuki books, but not the method, for many years of teaching bowed strings. I have taught adults and children older than ten. I have only started one young one that stuck with it (age 6 - and thus old enough to read). The CDs/tapes give the Suzuki student, even the one who starts by trying to read music, a wonderful boost. I always supplement the Suzuki pieces with segments from the more "conventional" (in a pre-1960 sense) pedagogical literature to enhance development of certain techniques as they are needed.

I think that the Suzuki method of aural learning is very like the way we learn language from babyhood - and thus uses a unique skill that very young humans have. As we get older, many of us seem to lose that ability (perhaps just through impatience). "Why," an adult might think, "should I labor along with the rest of the class of kids for a year, when using the well-developed logical parts of my intelligence, I can probably get to the end of book 1 this first week?"

Learning how to use the left and right hands for violin are much more like gymnastics than any intellectual thing that humans do. Learning when to use them in certain ways may be more intellectual - and that is probably why the great virtuosos also show such high intelligence (there are also some very good players who don't). To learn the mechanics, there is no substutute for practice and mental concentration on practice - it is not like the sciences at all. And because intellectual prowess does not really do it, there is something to be said for the meticulous talent approach of the approved Suzuki Method.

This is a potential problem, and I don't want to take sides on it. But there is a reason that we want a parent of the Suzuki youngsters to learn the instrument along with them. That way the parent can provide loving guidance at every practice session. It certainly worked for my 6-year old granddaughter, as her father (who was simultaneously taking "Suzuki cello" from me) helped her through books 1 and 2 on the violin. By the time she was in book 3, she was much more independent and depended more on the Suzuki CDs than her father. Now at 9, and in book 4 after 2-1/2 years of lessons, she seems to be more interested in helping her father, who when he does play, is still in cello books 1 and 2. She also listens to performances by Perlman, Chang, Heifetz, Fodor, etc. - all of which inspires her and encourages technical development. The moral of this little (tortise and hare) story is that an adult's intellect allows much faster learning at the beginning - and it could be difficult for some adults to learn the same way children do. But in the long run the children seem to come even with and then surpass the adults. (Enjoy the video of the 1939 movie "They Shall Have Music" with Jasha Heifetz to see what some kids can do musically.) Certainly in some community orchestras I have been in, the high school seniors (who were raised on Suzuki -usually through the entire program and then whent on to more conventional teachers) were as good as almost any adult violinists in the orchestra - and better than most. In the time since these young people had been born and grew to such abilities - most of the adults had not improved at all. (I know, I was around one orchestra to watch it for 33 years!)

A child can grow through 6-10 years of playing before the need for primo sight-reading becomes overwhelming. An adult takes up the instrument in part for the musical opportunities that good sight-reading skills will provide. I think you get to be a good sight-reader faster if you use a more conventional approach to study, which starts you reading music early, and I recommend that the combination of the Suzuki books with a teacher who allows you to read the music can get you there faster (if not better). The Suzuki books are more fun than the older etude (Wolfhardt, etc.) approach. I would also supplement the Suzuki pieces after Book 3, with the standard light 19th century- etc. classics available in many collections of violin pieces. This gives the student some simpler fun pieces to supplement the hard work of Book 4 as well as some nice performance pieces with piano accompanyment. By this stage the student should be able to read through most of the pieces in books aimed at the 1st position.

I am not so firm in this belief, that I would fight contradiction (but I know I'm right - at least for some people).

Andy

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: Do you know what I mean? Does anybody else practice

: like this?

: Melinda Alice

Yes, I, (41,6 month beginner) use Walfahrt etc and play suzuki books but don't listen to CD. When I get a new piece, my teacher demonstrates. When I go home, I first learn left hand without the bow, with right hand only tapping on the strings. Then I learn the up and down bows. Then I memorize the whole thing before the second day of the week. I bring my book to work and wave my hands in the air memorizing. Then from the 3rd to 6th day, I practice in front of the mirror, going back to the book only to memorize more details on dynamics etc.

I do the same for all practices, scales etc. Without memorizing, I just don't improve.

As for sight reading music, it is an important skill. For example, our family gather around the piano singing hymns or Messaiah, those who can play instruments play along too. I those and other fun occasions, you'll have to sight read.

So, in my personal opinion, for people who can read and learn main points of a piece by understanding the explanations of their teachers, should not depend on listening to CD and play along. Sometimes I do play along too, putting on CD of Mendelson Violin Concerto 2nd movement and play along.

Margaret Wu

:

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Dear Margeret!

After reading your note I have several questions:

1) How do you hear if you are playing in tune

while you memorize using only the left hand?

How do you correct intonation errors?

2) do you memorize ALL the notes af the piece

before you work on bowing? Do you play the notes

almost entirely from memory?

3) are you the Margeret who played Mendelssohn after

six years?

4) Really important: I always want to get every note

perfectly in tune before I work on bowing, but

on the other hand it's like a never-ending battle:

I start getting tense and ALWAYS miss certain notes,

so then I think: STOP WORRYING ABOUT INTONATION!!

and try to go on. What would you recommend?

Looking forward to your reply!

Melinda Alice

: Yes, I, (41,6 month beginner) use Walfahrt etc and play suzuki books but don't listen to CD. When I get a new piece, my teacher demonstrates. When I go home, I first learn left hand without the bow, with right hand only tapping on the strings. Then I learn the up and down bows. Then I memorize the whole thing before the second day of the week. I bring my book to work and wave my hands in the air memorizing. Then from the 3rd to 6th day, I practice in front of the mirror, going back to the book only to memorize more details on dynamics etc.

: I do the same for all practices, scales etc. Without memorizing, I just don't improve.

: As for sight reading music, it is an important skill. For example, our family gather around the piano singing hymns or Messaiah, those who can play instruments play along too. I those and other fun occasions, you'll have to sight read.

: So, in my personal opinion, for people who can read and learn main points of a piece by understanding the explanations of their teachers, should not depend on listening to CD and play along. Sometimes I do play along too, putting on CD of Mendelson Violin Concerto 2nd movement and play along.

: Margaret Wu

: :

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: Dear Margeret!

: After reading your note I have several questions:

: 1) How do you hear if you are playing in tune

: while you memorize using only the left hand?

: How do you correct intonation errors?

I said "...I first learn left hand without the bow, with right hand only tapping on the strings..."

The right hand is like Pizz. on the strings, so I do hear intonation. (May be my English is not good enough to describe this complicated thing. :) )

:

: 2) do you memorize ALL the notes of the piece

: before you work on bowing?

No, after a few run of the left finger practice, I start the bow practice, then after several more runs of both hands, start memorizing by playing the easy bars with my eyes on the bridge and peaking back on the music only when I can't go on. After a few runs, I can get 90% then when finish practicing, I sing the melody all day long (even the boring Wahlfahrt (this time it's a better spell, right?)).

Although I'm an old dog beginner of violin (41yr old, 6 month beginner), I took piano lesson for 8 years as a child and was in serious children choir training for 6 years. So I have no problem sight reading, but translating what I saw to finger position and bow direction is currently hard for me. Also, piano is like playing the same game on both hands, but violin is like juggling bottles on the left hand while cutting a pie with the right hand. So, I figured out this method and sort of "divide and conquor". (I am an engineer, may be modularization also helped?)

Do you play the notes

: almost entirely from memory?

Yes, after the 3rd day. I memorize every thing I've played so far. I thought every one does that???

: 3) are you the Margeret who played Mendelssohn after

: six years?

No no no, I only 'Karaoke' with the 2nd movement. It's C major, easy! (the beginning part, at least)

: 4) Really important: I always want to get every note

: perfectly in tune before I work on bowing, but

: on the other hand it's like a never-ending battle:

: I start getting tense and ALWAYS miss certain notes,

: so then I think: STOP WORRYING ABOUT INTONATION!!

: and try to go on. What would you recommend?

That's what I tried to do. You know how chorus training demands in pitches AAAAAND... That's how I got my fingers (tendons) hurt repeating and repeating and repeating till I get every note in tune without stopping throughout the song. Now I don't do that anymore, I find there are many other things to work on other than minding the pitch. The bowing (direction, intensity, jumping, which part of the bow to use...let your teacher finish this list...), interpretation, dynamics, body postures.... Yes, stop worrying about intonation until all other factors have improved to a certain point. And during that, the out of tone notes can be conquored one by one. You see, if you get perfect tone, but rough bowing and bad interpretation, that comes to nothing. And keeping in tone --- which means remembering finger position or sliding slightly back or forth at the beginning split second of the sound --- is the easiest of all the factors in perfecting a song.

Like some other post said, may be you're doing perfect pitch playing because you want your teacher or others around you or yourself to say "I can do this". But then you are neglecting all other important skills waiting to be perfected.

Thanks to my left hand injury, I'm focusing on bowing techniques more with a mind more humble than "I can perfectly pitch every note, on every song!!!" (Is this like, "Thanks for my divorce, now I spend more time with my kids") I don't want to break your fingers to stop you from minding the pitches, but please, never get perfect tone before starting to bow!!

Only my feeling and experience, nothing of a "recommendation".

Cheers

Margaret Wu

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Thank you for your prompt reply!!

I never looked at it that way, but actually,

moving the fingers of the left hand a millimeter

of a millimeter just to corect one note IS the

easiest thing, providing one is really listening

and not to tense to hear what one is playing! The

hard part is the bowing!

Well, I am working on a Nardini Concerto now,

and I am really trying to memorize it phrase by

phrase. This morning I noticed that when I play

it out of my head, I really have more attention

free for expression, dynamics ect.

I also play in front of a mirror, and do spend a

good deal of time looking really closely at the

bow- it it wobbeling? Is it straight? Does it have

a good contact to the string, or is it brushing

over the string to loosely? This really helps. Of course,

I also turn away from the mirror to concentrate

on intonation, or what my hands/arms are FEELING

when bowing. so I try to learn a phrase with as many

senses as possible- I like the engineer idea, it's

like a science: try to break up one big element

down into lots of little elements, and after

learning those, put it back together again.

Well, have fun practicing. By the way, it's

Wohlfahrt. I also played piano and was in the

choir for many years.

Greetings, Melinda Alice

: : Dear Margeret!

: : After reading your note I have several questions:

: : 1) How do you hear if you are playing in tune

: : while you memorize using only the left hand?

: : How do you correct intonation errors?

: I said "...I first learn left hand without the bow, with right hand only tapping on the strings..."

: The right hand is like Pizz. on the strings, so I do hear intonation. (May be my English is not good enough to describe this complicated thing. :) )

: :

: : 2) do you memorize ALL the notes of the piece

: : before you work on bowing?

: No, after a few run of the left finger practice, I start the bow practice, then after several more runs of both hands, start memorizing by playing the easy bars with my eyes on the bridge and peaking back on the music only when I can't go on. After a few runs, I can get 90% then when finish practicing, I sing the melody all day long (even the boring Wahlfahrt (this time it's a better spell, right?)).

: Although I'm an old dog beginner of violin (41yr old, 6 month beginner), I took piano lesson for 8 years as a child and was in serious children choir training for 6 years. So I have no problem sight reading, but translating what I saw to finger position and bow direction is currently hard for me. Also, piano is like playing the same game on both hands, but violin is like juggling bottles on the left hand while cutting a pie with the right hand. So, I figured out this method and sort of "divide and conquor". (I am an engineer, may be modularization also helped?)

: Do you play the notes

: : almost entirely from memory?

: Yes, after the 3rd day. I memorize every thing I've played so far. I thought every one does that???

: : 3) are you the Margeret who played Mendelssohn after

: : six years?

: No no no, I only 'Karaoke' with the 2nd movement. It's C major, easy! (the beginning part, at least)

: : 4) Really important: I always want to get every note

: : perfectly in tune before I work on bowing, but

: : on the other hand it's like a never-ending battle:

: : I start getting tense and ALWAYS miss certain notes,

: : so then I think: STOP WORRYING ABOUT INTONATION!!

: : and try to go on. What would you recommend?

: That's what I tried to do. You know how chorus training demands in pitches AAAAAND... That's how I got my fingers (tendons) hurt repeating and repeating and repeating till I get every note in tune without stopping throughout the song. Now I don't do that anymore, I find there are many other things to work on other than minding the pitch. The bowing (direction, intensity, jumping, which part of the bow to use...let your teacher finish this list...), interpretation, dynamics, body postures.... Yes, stop worrying about intonation until all other factors have improved to a certain point. And during that, the out of tone notes can be conquored one by one. You see, if you get perfect tone, but rough bowing and bad interpretation, that comes to nothing. And keeping in tone --- which means remembering finger position or sliding slightly back or forth at the beginning split second of the sound --- is the easiest of all the factors in perfecting a song.

: Like some other post said, may be you're doing perfect pitch playing because you want your teacher or others around you or yourself to say "I can do this". But then you are neglecting all other important skills waiting to be perfected.

: Thanks to my left hand injury, I'm focusing on bowing techniques more with a mind more humble than "I can perfectly pitch every note, on every song!!!" (Is this like, "Thanks for my divorce, now I spend more time with my kids") I don't want to break your fingers to stop you from minding the pitches, but please, never get perfect tone before starting to bow!!

: Only my feeling and experience, nothing of a "recommendation".

: Cheers

: Margaret Wu

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: I am a 36 year old who recently purchased a

: violin and would like to take lessons. ... Has

: anyone had any experiences you can tell me

> about learning thru Suzuki method as an adult....

I did the same thing and started with Suzuki. I think it can be a good method (I've started my daughter with Suzuki). It has its strengths and weaknesses, like any method. If you have a music background, and can already read music, then you should make sure that the teacher supplements the material. You will probably want to get out and play with a community orchestra or similar, and you will need reading skills that are way beyond the first 4 books or so (when I quit). The early ear training you get from the method is really useful, but if you short-circuit that by simply reading the simple arrangements, I think you will be getting the worst of the method, and not the best. In any case, you should expect to be using supplemental material within a year; if not, find another teacher.

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  • 2 months later...

: : You have hit the nail right on the head. The thing I like least about the Suzuki method is that you don't learn how to read the music. This is very limiting if you want to learn to play other things. Over the past year, I have started teaching my students how to read the music. Those who are old enough to read words start reading music right away. The younger ones wait until their eyes are mature enough. Generally, I let my students learn 5 or 6 pieces by ear in Suzuki, then start teaching them to read. I want to keep the channel from the ears to the fingers open, just as I want to open the channel from the eyes to the fingers. Most of my students who are children want to stick with the Suzuki literature, but most of the adults want to play other things. I like it best when the student is an active partner in his/her learning, so I always respect his/her wishes. Recently, I have started teaching everyone the 2nd violin parts to the pieces, too. They really seem to enjoy it. It sounds great, too. the best part of it is that the students get the experience of playing in 2-part harmony.

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  • 4 weeks later...

: I am also 36 and have had a burning desire to play the piano. When I was in my late twenties and early thirties, I took a few years of lessons. I got to the point of getting into intermediate material; however, I have never been able to comfortably play treble and bass together. I just cannot coordinate my hands. In total frustration I quit. Unfortunately the desire to want to play is still there. Can this Suzuki method help me? Is it worth my while to begin again? Any words of wisdom are appreciated. Sincerely, Chris

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