Posts made in May, 2013

Example of a group concert

Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Practice | 0 comments

Our Spring group concert is next weekend (May 18th at 9am) at Longy. It will be our last concert at Longy, and I encourage anyone who is interested in Suzuki method violin to come see it. The concert will be a typical example of a Suzuki concert, with all the kids in the program sitting on stage. We start with the most advanced piece of music, and as the pieces get easier, more kids stand up to join, until the end, where we play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star together. I’ll post a video of the concert next week, but here’s a video from last year. I’m actually not on stage because I was on maternity...

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Celtics game

Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Practice | 0 comments

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Master one activity instead of signing up for so many

Posted by on May 5, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Master one activity instead of signing up for so many

Vanessa Thorpe, arts and media correspondent A lot of people tell me they struggle with deciding which activities, and how many, to sign their kids up for. Before having kids, I couldn’t understand why people overbooked their 4 and 5 year olds, and had them driving around to so many activities that they couldn’t find a 30 minute break in the day to practice violin. Now I have a 5 year old and I have a better understanding. For one thing, as babies, we are with them ALL DAY LONG and the parents need social interaction, so we sign up for music class, go to the library story hour, tumbling class, art class, swim class, soccer, etc. I think these classes are as much for the parents as the kids. Once you have a school aged child who is is with his classmates at school all day, I think it’s time to focus on one or two activities. In our family, we’ve decided that it’s ok to sign up for one athletic type class (gymnastics) and one music class (violin). I believe it is better for kids to learn to do one thing really well, then to dabble in a bunch of classes for exposure. Occasionally I break that rule, for example I think it’s important to learn to swim, so I brought my kids to a short term swim class in addition to gymnastics. I recently read an article by a violinist, Nicola Benedetti, who had the same philosophy about learning one thing really well. She said: “A lot of the most privileged children face far too many choices,” said Benedetti. “It is almost paralysing for children. It can disorient them like a constantly faulty light, flicking on and off.” She added that for her, “the most crucial thing is consistency if you ever want a child to have that feeling of satisfaction in their stomach when they have made something work because they stuck at it.” You can read the full article here:...

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The first year practicing with my 4 year old

Posted by on May 2, 2013 in Blog, Practice | 0 comments

The first year practicing with my 4 year old

Practicing with a four year old can be rewarding at some times and rough at others. I used to think I had all the answers for parents of four year olds. Then my own daughter started Suzuki violin a few months after her 4th birthday. At first I was validated. Aya seemed excited to be finally going to lessons, like she’d seen since she was born. She was happy to practice with me at home. I’ll never forget one of the first times we practiced and she told me afterwards “You’re the best mommy in the whole world.” I thought: this is great! It’s so special for her to have these 10 minutes where I turn off my phone, ignore all the chores, and tell her baby sister that I need to be focused on Aya. And I’m giving her the gift of music! So that was stage 1. Stage 2 was when she decided she actually already knew how to play the violin, and didn’t need me to help her. She would just grab it and start sawing away, creating bad habits by the handful while I watched it happen. In stage 3, I threw out all my convictions about how wrong it is to use bribes and rewards. And I went all out. Not only was I going to bribe her, but I was going to do it with FOOD. And that food would be CHOCOLATE. I put a chocolate chip on her bow hand, and told her if she could keep her wrist bent, and bring her bow up to her face without letting the chocolate chip fall off, she could eat it. Right there in her practice. We later found that chocolate chips fall off too easily and moved on to Annie’s fruit snacks, which stick to your hand and work really well. Stage 4: Aya has accepted that practice is part of her daily routine, and also seems to have forgotten that she really wants to play a song. When her sister goes down for her nap, the first thing Aya does is run to get her violin out and get ready to practice… Because she wants the fruit snacks. We go through all the things her teacher has asked us to do: clapping rhythms, practicing her bow hold, balancing the violin on her shoulder (with a fruit snack on it). Then we’re done and she’s on to other things. Stage 5: She starts playing on the string and we start arguing over if she’s doing what her teacher asked. She doesn’t seem to remember that her mother is a violin teacher. She tries to convince me that her teacher said to do things a different way. She tells me her legs hurt and starts acting like I’m torturing her. She melts to the floor and sobs that she can’t do it any longer. Stage 6: She starts actually learning to play and is feeling very proud of herself.  Somehow we ran out of fruit snacks and she seems...

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