"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.
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.
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.
Often parents tell me that they feel guilty for the "bribing" they do to accomplish daily practice. Sometimes they are concerned that their child is not self-motivated to do their practice. My explanation has always been that as a parent, you do things with your child that are rewards (dessert, toys, watching videos, fun activities, etc.) so it makes sense to get your work done first and do the reward after. I'm afraid that sometimes seems over simplified. Here is a short article about the difference between bribing and using incentives and rewards. I like this explanation.