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Showing posts from May, 2012

Music Education vs. Music Therapy: Should there be a line?

I studied music therapy in college. At the end of my four years I decided to forgo the internship necessary to become certified and took up teaching the violin. I mention this only to make clear that I have exposure to the field but am not a certified, practicing music therapist.

What was interesting to me in my therapy classes was the emphasis placed on drawing the line between the fields of music education and music therapy. In many ways this makes perfect sense to me. Music therapists must define their role in order to "sell their product." They wish to work in a therapist capacity rather than be hired to direct the high school band or teach an instrument.

About three months ago I took on a special ed violin student. He has ADHD and occasional anxiety attacks. He's doing really well on the violin and his mom commented to me that playing the violin has improved his fine motor skills and has really helped him to organize and focus his thoughts. That comment made …

Fiddling Around With Multiple Genres

I really enjoy Howard Gardner's books on his theory of multiple intelligences.  In a nutshell, he delves into how there's really no one type of intelligence.  Schools assume that an "A" student should get As across the board.  But if you look at reality, no one is good at everything.  A person that may be brilliant in astrophysics is not necessarily going to be brilliant in creating artistic masterpieces.  The two fields require two entirely different sets of strengths and weaknesses.

You can see the same divisions even if you narrowed it down to just one field such as music.  The skills required to make a beautiful instrument are very different from those required for virtuosic performance or those required to teach.  Again, each subcategory has it's own type of intelligence.

The division can be broken down even further.  Take violin performance as the example.  Someone who excels at classical music may not necessarily play other genres such as jazz or bluegrass…

That darn Suzuki CD is too fast!

Of all the Suzuki method criticisms, some of the harshest seem to be directed toward the CD that accompanies the method book. "It's like twinkle on speed!" One parent exclaimed to me.

This is why I think it's important to clear up what the CD is ACTUALLY for. Most people seem to believe that Suzuki students are supposed to listen to the CD, memorize the song, and then play it along with the CD. This is only half true.

What partially makes "the Suzuki method" different from "the traditional style" is the approach to sight reading. When young students (3 or 4 years old) are learning the violin, it would be almost impossible for them to make any sort of progress if they were asked to play the violin (which involves a high level of fine motor skills) AND read music (most of them can't even read books yet). Doing both of those things is even incredibly difficult for an adult beginner who can read. So we separate the two tasks. This allows t…

Breaking down some Suzuki myths

As a student who was raised in the Suzuki method and a current Suzuki teacher, I've come to notice that many people don't actually know exactly what a "Suzuki student" is all about. There are a lot of myths and even more stereotypes revolving around this method. I think that educating fellow musicians and teachers is a vitally important task.

Shinichi Suzuki's major breakthrough in child education came from watching hundreds of newborn infants. He realized that every infant eventually learns to speak the "mother tongue." Children have an incredible ability to assimilate auditory information. He also observed no parent doubts their child's ability to learn to speak. They always encourage and practice constant repetition. From these observations he drew the conclusion that given the right environment, every child can play music.

With these things in mind, we can move on to the actual method. The Suzuki method revolves around auditory learning an…