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are you sure it's not the other way round? suzuki encourages musicality and the so called "traditional" encourages technique?

Suzuki encourages students to play pretty tunes but not scales and other technical things. Educate me if i've got it wrong. But nearly all Suzuki students come out not knowing how to play simple scales!

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I wouldn't dare "educate" anybody, but here are a few more thoughts:

I suppose it depends on what you mean by the term "technique". I can't really remember about scales, but when I said "technique", I meant positioning and discipline, that sort of thing. As I said, I followed the method with the piano, not the violin, but if I give an example, you may see what I mean: for instance, when I played, my teacher would place coins on the back of my hand, so I couldn't be sloppy in the way I had my hands. Of course, once you get to a certain level, having your hands so level when you play the piano is unnecessary, but it's probably good to start off like that and then adapt it, rather than let yourself be sloppy in the first place.

I was four till eight years old when I did the Suzuki method, so I really don't remember a great deal, but I do remember that I was playing technically quite demanding things quite early, thanks to the Suzuki method. So somehow or other, the method enabled me to do many technical things.

Even now, I find that among my school's pianists, it is quite clear that I am among the more technical people. There are many very good pianists at my school, but what I mean is that one of my friends relies 75% on musicality with 25% on technicality, whereas I'm probably something like 60% technicality and 40% musicality. If I impress anyone with my playing, it's generally because of all the technical things I'm flying around with, and not because I'm producing a particularly warm sound or whatever.

But my present piano teacher has commented that I don't strike him as a typical Suzuki student, so maybe all of what I'm saying is totally incorrect. . .

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i agree that it is easier to play when you've heard the music. but when you're in the real world, recordings are not aways available! imagine if you're doing a premiere. woops! you're caught! Sure, we should make use of what's available- all the fine recordings, but we shouldn't reply on listening to the music first before you learn the piece all the time.

The thing is, people give so much emphaise on the ability to play by ear. Sure it is a admirable and valueable skill, but i don't think one should solely rely on it to learn music.

reading notes comes hand in hand with music and playing an instrument.

: - There may be some who are ashamed of admitting they studied Suzuki method. Well, I'm ashamed that with my traditional training, I can't learn simple 1st position fiddle tunes, about equal to Suzuki Book 1 tunes, without a LOT of mental effort! (just the notes, never mind all the ornaments) However, am working on it! :-)

if you can't learn simple tunes equal to suzuki book 1 without lots of mental effort, then you should ask yourself what the problem is. Is it because you haven't heard the tune in one of _those_ suzuki recordings? or is it you're just not strong in reading music?

we must remember that in the real world, sight reading is really important and recordings are not always available!

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I think you've pointed out very well the weaknesses of the Suzuki method, and I'd be the last person on earth to say that this method is perfect (I'm very glad that I broke away from it, for instance), but I just don't think that we should dismiss it completely.

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You read Blobzola's post and it gets you thinking. All those Suzuki books out there and everyone is stuck using them for pieces to play. Does that make you a suzuki method player? And the way it is claimed that he cornered the market on technique??? What in the world did the artists do before Suzuki? Boy - Sarasate better go back and get proper training! - - I quite frankly feel people are being swept up by marketing and haven't thought it out much. A good teacher instills the proper way to play violin (or what ever instrument) from the very beginning. Whether the student can read or write determines the "lesson" plan. Progressive students can read and write early. Why hold them back? I hate to throw in bomb shells, however, having facility on the violin means throroughly knowing the instrument - all positions, scales using different fingerings, all bowing techniques (martelle, spicatto etc.), etc. etc... Sorry - - but developing this kind of serious technique requires more than learning positions by fishing around from one song to another! It simply leaves too many wholes in the background that have to be corrected and filled in later.

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: I think you've pointed out very well the weaknesses of the Suzuki method, and I'd be the last person on earth to say that this method is perfect (I'm very glad that I broke away from it, for instance), but I just don't think that we should dismiss it completely.

Queenie, I am really upset by everything that's happening in the music industry. People are being duped and hurdled in like sheep. You read about how there are no personalities, or indivduality or creativity. You have to ask "why?" when everyone is praising this tremendous genius, Suzuki. You know, my friends have consoled me when I start on my tyraids by heading me in the direction of "big business". This goes right along with people that are promoted into the "successful" arena too of the big star status. The only people who make it now are those who can generate income, and sadly classical music in the US is dying. Now I pose the question to you - where do you suppose there is a big market for classical music?!!! There's your answer to everything. And the control source for this - NY and CA big business with the funds to pull the strings. Cynical - YES - unfortunately business was never noted for artistic creativity. Look at Verdi, Beethoven, Paganini, Mendelssohn and the like. Struggling "starving" artists, but extreme genius and creativity. I dare say they learned their discipline throroughly, with out the mother tougue approach. So - What's the solution. People will go where they are appreciated. If creativity no longer is rewarded here ---- then...

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I think that the "traditional" method is far more likely to put off small children when they start. Doing Suzuki as a kid is very much like a game - it's fun, and nothing gets in the way of being allowed to play, which is very important for small kids. However, there are a lot of things in the Suzuki method which can be incredibly damaging to an older pupil. For example... a six-year-old is hardly really going to have big musical ideas on how to play a piece, so it's ok to learn from a tape and "copy" it, but once you start getting older and you need to have your own ideas, find your feet - even if someone is keeping a close eye on you - you've got to be able to learn music from print. Only that way can a person learn the notes and decide how they're going to play the music, as opposed to just playing the notes like someone else. Suzuki is fantastic for learning to memorize, though. The people I know trained traditionally have difficulty tearing themselves away from the printed page while the Suzuki-started ones seem to have a better affinity for music in memory.

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Sharon, and everyone else out there who thinks they can make a life out of this - get real.

It doesn't matter any way how you are trained or what you study or anything. If you enjoy playing your instrument it is self fulfilling. There are no rewarding careers out there and if your teacher tells you otherwise by promising success by competition after competition - use your head. The only people who are making a life out of this, on the whole, are the teachers. Count up how many soloists are leading rewarding careers vs how many jobs are available. Count up how many orchestra positions are available that can offer a moderate income and I'll tell you that shattered dreams and many unhappy times await you. What is the purpose and worth of it all. THIS IS REALITY. So all this talk about the right method and what to do to perfect is pointless. My advise to you, enjoy what you do but most of all work hard in school and gain a worthy career and profession in an academic discipline. Go where objectivity counts.

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Anybody who teaches using this method should be flogged, starved, then dragged across a mile of broken glass and SALT!

Wake up people! You are polluting, destroying, and utterly wasting a whole generation of musical geniuses that could have developed if not for you vaunted but delusional "method" !!!!!

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:Is it because you haven't heard the tune in one of _those_ suzuki recordings? or is it you're just not strong in reading music?

: we must remember that in the real world, sight reading is really important and recordings are not always available!

Thanks for your reply! Oops, I should have been more specific. I was talking about learning these fiddle tunes ONLY by ear. The fiddler teaches the piece phrase by phrase, slowly, and the group repeats them, gradually putting them together until we have the whole piece. No music in front of us at all; the music is available after the session to take home.

I guess I'm saying that traditional people like me (or maybe it's just me!) are stuck to our music. I'd just like to have a little more flexibility. These are really quite easy pieces, in easy keys (the most difficult I've done so far is C major - ooooooh!) so it's surprising to me to find it so difficult. Oh well, it's fun anyways!

BTW my sight-reading is pretty good, as I've spent 3 years in a small string orchestra. Just did my RCM Grade 7 exam and the sight-reading was no problem. Not that I'm bragging or anything! ;-)

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: Sharon, and everyone else out there who thinks they can make a life out of this - get real.

Good points, however the Suzuki method was never intended to produce great musicians. It was intended to produce wonderful human beings. It's having the chance to make music and enjoy it at the same time, and to have early exposure to the beauty of life, both to observe it and produce it.

Plus, it was developed at a time when early childhood education was, well, in its infancy ;-). I think it just wasn't thought that young children were capable of doing such things as playing Bach and Vivaldi.

Another benefit is that it is excellent mental development. I don't know how to explain it, but music uses parts of the brain used by no other discipline except maybe mathematics - and you'd have to do a heckuva lot of math to get the same benefit. Kind of like learning a second language when you are a child. It doesn't matter whether you'll ever use it, but at least your brain has learned the concepts.

I go back to my earlier post about getting a teacher who will not overload the student (like note-reading, sight reading, memorization and learning by ear all at once - fine for a pro, too much for a primary-aged child) but will not hold back such skills when the student is ready.

Thanks

Laurel

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The Suzuki method is excellent for some, but isn't for everyone. I think Dr. Suzuki did a wonderful thing by making very good music readily available to millions of students. Don't forget Rachel Barton grew up on Suzuki. She's an excellent violinist. I dare you to call her up and tell her your thoughts on Suzuki!

-Michael L.

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Rachel Barton is by far the most overrated violinist on earth. Citing her name helps your case- not at all. Listening to her play invokes images of construction quality steel meeting chalkboards, mingled with a touch of cats being tortured, and a dash of electric feedback.

Give me the woman's number and I will call her and say the very same thing!

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: You need to a strong, secure basic technique to be able to progress in your violin playing. Suzuki does not emphaise in techniques. Sure it develops the musical side of the student, but technique is what violin is all about (almost). Scales are important and it requires discipline. I know scales can be boring, but don't forget that the art of violin playing involves discipline. Enjoyment and satisfaction comes from discipline.

: Suzuki method allows the student to play pretty tunes, but the technical side is neglected. When it comes to virtuosic music, that's when Suzuki students fall because their technique is weak.

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: : : Suzuki is a great method to start out with, Bobby has a good point that beginners have enough to deal with, without having to learn to read right off.

: : : My big problem with the method is that if you don't like the music you're screwed; you have to learn the tunes until they're memorized, listening to them constantly, really unfun if you're not diggin' on the groove. I think that the first few books are great to get a feel for the fiddle but the inflexibility of the whole method is a big fault. Once you get the gist of making sounds with the violin and become aware of its possiblities then you should be careful to play what you like. I plodded through Suzuki for a long time and ended up burning out on violin. I didn't touch the thing for many years, never really understanding how much fun making music could be. I think that Suzuki's rigidity had a lot to do with it.

: : ************************************

: : I suspect you don't know much about what Suzuki is all about. I have two teachers who are among the best Suzuki teachers in the country and there is lots of proof out there that good Suzuki teaching produces outstanding results. Besides that, it has given me a good group of friends and I have a lot of fun -- most of the time. If you "plodded" through Suzuki for a long time, you probably would have "plodded" through whatever you did. Basically, Suzuki repertoire is pretty standard. Some teachers supplement it, some don't, but I have taken in a large studio and don't know anyone who doesn't like the music. Most everyone can't wait to get to the next piece. I have finished the repertoire now and think I am pretty well prepared to go on to other things. I think maybe that you are the one who is rigid. I don't think that you really understand what Suzuki is all about.

: : Bobby

: Actually I know quite a bit about the Suzuki method, having started the method at the age of four, in 1977. I also know that I really did not like playing the Suzuki method's music but stuck with it because there was the strong doctrine that Suzuki *was* violin. I never felt the joy of making music until much later in life when, of my own volition, I picked up the instrument again and started playing what *I* wanted to. I am very grateful to Suzuki for having given me very solid technical base but I am sad that I lost many years of making music and also sad that there are probably many others like me who never picked up the violin again and never knew musical joy.

: I am very happy for you that you have had such wonderful teachers and such a positive experience. Unfortunately, not everyone does and by projecting your experience on to others, you show yourself to be the one with the lack of understanding.

: PC

Actually, you must have had the misfortune to either have had a bad attitude when you were studying Suzuki and/or an ineffective teacher or an ineffective parent coach. I feel sorry for you.

I have seen a number of my friends who have taken from traditional teachers and for the most part they do not play as musically or as well as my Suzuki-trained friends. I think that the quality of the teaching, the quality of the student, and the quality of the environment at home are all contributing factors to the success of a student. My mom says that Suzuki is not really so much of a method as it is a philosophy and is geared at training very young children. Gently and positively. My Suzuki friends all do scales and exercises when they get to a certain point, but our teachers treat us positively (for the most part) and with respect. My friend went to a famous traditional teacher after studying with a Suzuki teacher all his life and the teacher yelled at him. I don't think I want to have a teacher that yells at him. Also, I think that Suzuki teachers lots of time have training in how to teach -- maybe more now than back in 1977. It takes more to be a good teacher than just being able to play the violin well.

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: The average standard of orchestral playing among high school students who have come through the standard Suzuki program (with memorization) is higher than among adult community orchestra players from previous generations. I have also known three players who came through the Suzuki program to go on to be college majors in violin-inlcuding one who was the STRAD magazine "cover girl" of May 1993 (although it's not mentioned in the acompanying article). I'm sure I know others who also went on in music - I just don't know they did.

: These players, and many others, made it through the Suzuki program and went on to "conventional" teachers of the older and more complete pedagogy.

: If you start at an older age than the typical 3-4 year olds, you should progress faster, but you may find some lack of motivation if you become ego-bound by being the oldest in the class.

: I know one adult, who dropped his conventional studies to begin again with the standard, memorizing Suzuli approach with a new teacher.

: What Bobby has said about starting with sight-reading is true, even for those who have reached the age of reason; although they are often capable of getting through Book 1 within a week, by reading the music, they have trouble getting the right sound.

: Andy

In Strad Magazine -- I think it might have been December or January -- there was an article about the Indianapolis Violin Competition. In the middle of the article was a statement about the highpoint of the whole competition came on the first night ... (this is not a quote because I don't have the article in front of me) when a young violinist played and it showed what music was all about. The article went on later and said something about that same violinist standing out in the wings being supportive of his fellow competitors. This violinist was Nicholas Kendall. He went all the way through the Suzuki method and was one of the students I looked up to in my Suzuki group when I was little. Whenever I see him now, he is always nice and stops to speak to me--even though I am about 7 years younger. This is what Suzuki is about. I feel sorry for people who think learning to play the violin is just about scales and etudes and flashy pieces. My best friends are my Suzuki friends and musicianship and friendship are very important to us.

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: i agree that it is easier to play when you've heard the music. but when you're in the real world, recordings are not aways available! imagine if you're doing a premiere. woops! you're caught! Sure, we should make use of what's available- all the fine recordings, but we shouldn't reply on listening to the music first before you learn the piece all the time.

: The thing is, people give so much emphaise on the ability to play by ear. Sure it is a admirable and valueable skill, but i don't think one should solely rely on it to learn music.

: reading notes comes hand in hand with music and playing an instrument.

: : - There may be some who are ashamed of admitting they studied Suzuki method. Well, I'm ashamed that with my traditional training, I can't learn simple 1st position fiddle tunes, about equal to Suzuki Book 1 tunes, without a LOT of mental effort! (just the notes, never mind all the ornaments) However, am working on it! :-)

: if you can't learn simple tunes equal to suzuki book 1 without lots of mental effort, then you should ask yourself what the problem is. Is it because you haven't heard the tune in one of _those_ suzuki recordings? or is it you're just not strong in reading music?

: we must remember that in the real world, sight reading is really important and recordings are not always available!

I really don't think most of the posters on this board have a clear picture of what Suzuki students taught correctly can do. I am out of the books and sometimes listen to recordings -- usually several -- of pieces I am learning. Sometimes there isn't time, but it certainly doesn't hold me back. My friends and I learned a piece by Suk recently for a workshop and none of us had a recording, but it wasn't a problem. Some of us only had a couple days to learn the piece -- it was by Suk. The point is, that all of us are Suzuki students and we have all developed pretty decent sight reading skills -- which are probably made better by all of the ear training. I had the piece memorized within a couple of days of picking it up.

From all my years of listening to the Suzuki recordings and because my teacher had me do a special listening assignment each week, my ears are now pretty fine-tuned. If I am struggling with fingerings and bowings in a new piece, I try to get hold of several recordings and listen to how others do it. Because of all my Suzuki ear training, I can hear what string something is on and what position and for bowings I can tell what to do. It's a big help. Sometimes, too, I get musical ideas. However, my teacher suggested that I listen to as many recordings as I can and that I can tell what I like and don't like about ways different performers play something. I don't need to copy, though, but it never hurts to listen to what others are doing. However, I don't have to have a recording to learn a piece.

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: i agree that it is easier to play when you've heard the music. but when you're in the real world, recordings are not aways available! imagine if you're doing a premiere. woops! you're caught! Sure, we should make use of what's available- all the fine recordings, but we shouldn't reply on listening to the music first before you learn the piece all the time.

: The thing is, people give so much emphaise on the ability to play by ear. Sure it is a admirable and valueable skill, but i don't think one should solely rely on it to learn music.

: reading notes comes hand in hand with music and playing an instrument.

: : - There may be some who are ashamed of admitting they studied Suzuki method. Well, I'm ashamed that with my traditional training, I can't learn simple 1st position fiddle tunes, about equal to Suzuki Book 1 tunes, without a LOT of mental effort! (just the notes, never mind all the ornaments) However, am working on it! :-)

: if you can't learn simple tunes equal to suzuki book 1 without lots of mental effort, then you should ask yourself what the problem is. Is it because you haven't heard the tune in one of _those_ suzuki recordings? or is it you're just not strong in reading music?

: we must remember that in the real world, sight reading is really important and recordings are not always available!

I really don't think most of the posters on this board have a clear picture of what Suzuki students taught correctly can do. I am out of the books and sometimes listen to recordings -- usually several -- of pieces I am learning. Sometimes there isn't time, but it certainly doesn't hold me back. My friends and I learned a piece by Suk recently for a workshop and none of us had a recording, but it wasn't a problem. Some of us only had a couple days to learn the piece -- it was by Suk. The point is, that all of us are Suzuki students and we have all developed pretty decent sight reading skills -- which are probably made better by all of the ear training. I had the piece memorized within a couple of days of picking it up.

From all my years of listening to the Suzuki recordings and because my teacher had me do a special listening assignment each week, my ears are now pretty fine-tuned. If I am struggling with fingerings and bowings in a new piece, I try to get hold of several recordings and listen to how others do it. Because of all my Suzuki ear training, I can hear what string something is on and what position and for bowings I can tell what to do. It's a big help. Sometimes, too, I get musical ideas. However, my teacher suggested that I listen to as many recordings as I can and that I can tell what I like and don't like about ways different performers play something. I don't need to copy, though, but it never hurts to listen to what others are doing. However, I don't have to have a recording to learn a piece.

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Suzuki violin method teaches the wrong bow hold (thumb on bottom of the frog). This makes learning the correct way about a thousand times harder. And it does not encourage note-reading. My roommate still can't read all that well after playing for 15 years because of what Suzuki didn't teach her to do.

:are you sure it's not the other way round? suzuki encourages musicality and the so called "traditional" encourages technique?

: Suzuki encourages students to play pretty tunes but not scales and other technical things. Educate me if i've got it wrong. But nearly all Suzuki students come out not knowing how to play simple scales!

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: Suzuki violin method teaches the wrong bow hold (thumb on bottom of the frog). This makes learning the correct way about a thousand times harder. And it does not encourage note-reading. My roommate still can't read all that well after playing for 15 years because of what Suzuki didn't teach her to do.

: :are you sure it's not the other way round? suzuki encourages musicality and the so called "traditional" encourages technique?

: : Suzuki encourages students to play pretty tunes but not scales and other technical things. Educate me if i've got it wrong. But nearly all Suzuki students come out not knowing how to play simple scales!

Just because your roommate has a problem doesn't mean that it is Suzuki's fault. I suspect you could find lots of traditional students out there who aren't particularly fluent readers. In fact, I happen to have seen a number of them.

As for the thumb, there is a reason -- and I have seen traditional teachers use the thumb outside the frog. It is to encourage use of the large muscles. In fact, some of us Suzuki teachers are now starting with a cello bow hold with the pinky draped over the bow to start -- produces amazing results if done right. It gets rid of "pressing" with the index finger and the resulting scratchy tone right from the start.

As for Suzuki students not knowing scales, Suzuki starts them on a simple scales in Book 1. In our area, I suspect most Suzuki teachers teach scales. My own son started simple scales when he was 4 and was doing 3 octave scales and arpeggios at 6 and he takes from a Suzuki teacher trainer.

We had the opportunity last summer to attend a short workshop given by a member of the NSO. The students with the exception of my son were all "traditionally" trained. My son -- the Suzuki student -- was the only one who could play in tune, who had his piece memorized, and had any facility at all on the fingerboard. Some of these students had been taking for a number of years. They came from several area teachers. Yes, he studies with a good teacher, but there are good and bad teachers no matter what "method". It is not the method here that is at fault, it is the poor teaching. There are lots of teachers out there calling themselves Suzuki teachers, yet they have never had any of the pedagogy training. It gives the method a bad name. But there are also lots of traditional teachers out there who can't teach. Should we judge all traditional teachers on the number who get poor results and say that traditional methods are no good?

Again, my son started with a poorly trained Suzuki teacher, but he was diligent and, with my help learned in spite of her. We transferred to a very fine teacher after a couple of years and it was all the difference in the world. Should we judge all Suzuki teachers based on the first? I think not. She would be a poor teacher if she were teaching traditionally. She didn't have the temperment or skill to be teaching young children. But you can't judge Suzuki by her poor skills.

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Alright everyone.

thanks for all your thoughts.

Gee this received the largest amount of replies I think.

Suzuki and the "traditional" method both have their own strength and weaknesses. Wouldn't it be great if someone can combine the two? But i guess things also depend on the student and his/her family and surroundings etc etc. I guess a good teacher would draw out the best in each method to suit each of his/her student.

But let me encourage all you budding violinists out there. Keep practising. Find what's best for you. Have a all rounded musical (as well as academic) education.

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But surely if the rest of the world is so bent on nothing more than flashy technique and not paying much attention to artistic creativity, we should all the more be striving to put it right?! Surely we should be trying even harder to show people the great value of artistic creativity, and trying to show them that flashy technique isn't everything?!

As I said in one of the other messages I posted, I'm a bit more technical than I am musical, and I'm desperately trying to develop and increase my musicality, because after a while, sheer technique gets a bit dull. . .

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