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Showing posts from June, 2012

Musical Talent: Nature vs. Nurture

For the most part, I don't believe in a "musical gene." I will concede that there is such a thing as a musical genius. But these people, regardless of the field they crop up in, are more the exception rather than the rule.

A child growing up in a musical family will have a distinct head start in a musical career over children who come from a non-musical family. I think that examples of this that are seen in history are largely responsible for this notion of a "musical gene." "Of course Bach was a musical genius. He inherited all those good musical genes from his father." Bach's father and all of his uncles were professional musicians. He was encouraged from a very early age to explore music. Bach's musical accomplishments were loudly applauded by his entire family rather than discouraged and frowned upon. How could the young Bach fail to have, at the very least, an interest in music with this kind of environment?

What is sad for me to…

Interview with Renata Bratt on Alternative Playing Styles

Welcome to Rethinking Genius, Renata! Why don't you start out by telling us about yourself and what kind of teaching background you have.

I’ve been teaching since I finished my undergraduate work at Pomona College in Claremont. For a while I was the “regular” cello teacher at the Claremont Community Music School and Rick Mooney (a registered teacher trainer with the Suzuki Association of the Americas) was the Suzuki cello teacher. I was fortunate to be living in Claremont for a number of years and to observe the beautiful teaching styles of the cello teachers at the National Cello Institute which is based there. I was able to take a couple of masterclass series with Margaret Rowell – a cello teacher who has been a huge influence on Suzuki style cello teaching.

Then I finished up my Master’s degree in performance from California State University at Northridge and moved down to San Diegowhere I got my Ph. D. in music from the University of California there. Directly after I finished…

Sure they can hear it.... but can a Suzuki student read Music?

It was suggested to me via private message responses that I cover sight reading in the Suzuki method for my next blog. I feel like this is an excellent facet to touch on.

So can a Suzuki student read music? Talk about a loaded question. More often than not, "traditionally" taught teachers and players will scoff at the Suzuki Method for this reason alone. It is a very common misconception that the "Suzuki Method" teaches students to learn by ear alone. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Regardless of the method being taught, a great deal actually depends on the teacher (shocking, I know). When the Suzuki Method hit the United States, it created this huge phenomenon. Suddenly there was this series of books out there that practically taught students for you! How easy is that?!? The pieces build on themselves in regards to techninque, there's no higher power saying that you have to be "authorized" to teach Suzuki, all you have to do is tell…

Interview with Christine Nguyen on a Parent's Perspective of the Suzuki Method

Welcome to Rethinking Genius, Christine! Why don't you start out by introducing yourself. How long have you been a Suzuki parent, do you have any musical/teaching experience, what made you decide on a Suzuki teacher, etc...

I am a mother of three beautiful children, a science teacher and a Suzuki parent for just over 3 years. As a child, I learned the mandolin until that “stubborn” phase when I refused to practice. My parents were business people so it was up to me to practice on my own. There was no one to help me through the difficult patch I got discouraged and practice became more of a chore than a joy which led to the eventual termination of the mandolin.

When my oldest child was two and a half, I was introduced to the Suzuki method by a friend who lent me Dr. Suzuki’s book, Nurtured By Love.  Two things that left a tremendous impression were that talent can be learned with practice and diligence and that learning to play the violin well is similar to learning the mother la…