Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Getting the most out of lessons

The most dreaded words we teachers hear from parents:

"Can we have a make up?"


"How do we make up group class when we miss for our vacation?"

No matter how many times the teacher's policy is explained or outlined, parents will still ask.

I understand.  I really do.  You don't want to miss a lesson with your teacher.  It's a special time for your child to connect with an adult who is an expert in working with young musicians.  The time with your teacher is often easier than home practices, and your child often makes more leaps in the lessons than it seems like you get through daily repetitive practice at home.  (But don't be fooled!  The daily repetition is absolutely key to making those leaps!!!)

 And of course, you don't want to lose the money if you can't get a make up.

But this post isn't about why make up lessons are unfair to your teacher.  
For more on that, please read this important article by an economist and Suzuki parent:

This post is about getting your money's worth out of lessons.
I'm here to tell you that missing a lesson and not getting a make up is not the main way that you're not getting your money's worth out of your lessons.  

The biggest way that you're not making the most of your lessons is by 

Practicing daily, listening daily, and following your teacher's instructions exactly 
are the best ways to get the most out of your lessons.

Taking responsibility to be the home teacher and establishing a regular, daily practice routine is the absolute most important way to get the most out of lessons.  

Would you sign up for a personal trainer at the gym and see them once a week but never work out in between sessions with them?  You wouldn't expect results if you did that.  You wouldn't blame the trainer for your lack of progress!

Would you sign up for Weight Watchers and go to the meetings but never change what you're eating and still expect to lose weight?

And do not worry if your young child to does not want to practice every day.  Does your child want to do their homework every day?  Do you give him/her a choice about doing it?
Does your child want to brush their teeth every day?  Do they have a choice about that?

Establish a routine and stick to it!  Use whatever reward systems you like and that work for you and your child.  Make practice time more fun and bearable by reading up on ways
 to improve your skills as the home teacher.

Here is a fantastic resource:  https://www.sharmusic.com/Accessories/Books-DVDs/Helping-Parents-Practice-by-Edmund-Sprunger.axd

Wishing you much dedication and 
"stick-to-it-tiveness" as you 
embark on your practicing journey!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Yo-Yo Ma Interview with Andrew Marr, 9/9/17

"Music is ultimately a service we invented to connect people"                                                                              -- Yo-Yo Ma

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Musikal Journeys: The Story of Marina Obukovsky

"If you work hard, I know you can achieve anything."

Below is an interview with the wonderful Suzuki piano teacher trainer, Marina Obukovsky, who teaches at the School for Strings in NYC.  I had the opportunity to work with many of her students when I coached chamber music at SFS, and I saw the amazing combination of seriousness, warmth, and dedication that she gave to her students and families, and the results of that in her students' lovely playing.   Now, I'm thrilled that two of the teachers she's trained  are teaching at the Music Conservatory of Westchester, where we are building a Suzuki piano program.  

Please enjoy this interview with her:

Musikal Journeys: The Story of Marina Obukovsky

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The literal meaning

"How would you like to play a Twinkle to warm up?"

"I'm going to show you how a frog plays the violin!!!"


Monday, April 9, 2018

Group Class: Reviewing Older pieces, and Ensemble Playing

Group classes are important for so many reasons!  

Lately, I have been inspired to help my group classes strive to play as an ensemble.  My hope is for them to feel the importance of playing the same way--putting the good of whole as most important for that brief moment of each week.  I want them to move their bows together precisely, as a "school of fish", and to hear subtle phrasing and change dynamics together.  When everyone really listens and watches, and tries to match what is going on around them, magical music making can happen!  

I've also recently rediscovered (again) how much goodness there is that can be squeezed out of the Twinkle Variations.  They are set up perfectly to work on bow articulations, and precision of rhythm.  Of course this was Dr. Suzuki's idea!  But, even my late book 1 through Book 3 students are improving so much by revisiting them in group class.  

Here is an article from Parents as Partners Online (2012) by Jennifer Burton.  It has wonderful explanations for why group class and reviewing are so good for your child.

Click here:

The Importance of Group Classes, by Jennifer Burton

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

101 Ways to differentiate a scale, by Lisa Burrell

This is especially interesting for those of you who attended Lisa Burrell's Feldenkrais Workshop at Music Conservatory of Westchester on March 13.  Lisa is a close friend of mine, and a wonderful colleague from whom I gain so much inspiration.  We have the liveliest of discussions about pedagogy and movement!   Those of you who've studied with me may see some traces of these ideas in my teaching, although certainly not exactly the same.  

Please read over the list and try some of these ideas at home.  It doesn't have to only be in scales, either.  You could try them in a piece or in a small section of a piece.  

Please click here:

101 Ways to Differentiate a Scale