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Showing posts from September, 2013

The Eternal Student

We never stop learning.

Students will often ask me how many Suzuki books there are.  I'll tell them there are ten violin books.  And then they'll follow it up by asking something along the lines of what happens after book ten (like it's stopping point or something).  I tell them I've been playing for over twenty years and I still don't know every piece there is to know on the violin.

I think the fact that you can study it your whole life and still only scratch the surface is one of the coolest aspects of music.  You could even play a single piece your whole life and still find ways to perform it more beautifully.

Therein lies a difficult lesson.  There is a very thin but important line between being proud of your accomplishments yet always striving for more.  Perfection is both an unwanted and unreasonable goal.  It's impossible to play a piece perfectly.  Even if you were a robot and hit every note with mechanical accuracy, the piece would lack emotional depth…

Taking the Lesson Home

The parent plays a critical role in the Suzuki lesson environment.  Of the three people involved -- teacher, student, parent -- the parent by far has the most difficult job.  But they also have the most power to change a student.  The teacher may be an excellent teacher but if the lesson concepts are not reinforced at home a child will not learn them.

The teacher has something of an advantage in that they are usually not the child's parent.  So even if the student is comfortable with their teacher, they will almost always be more attentive in the lesson compared to their at-home practice.

Which leads us to the classic scenario that unfolds something like this:

Student has a good lesson, assignments for the week are given.  Parent tries to have the student do the assignment at home.  Apocalyptic tantrum begins, World War III follows.  Student attends next lesson not having practiced.

Which is why I joke that being a private music teacher is just shy of being a full-fledged therapis…