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Showing posts from January, 2014

The Suzuki Method: A set of books or an approach to teaching?

A little anecdote I've heard about Shinici Suzuki was that for a long time he adamantly refused to put together a set of repertoire to complement his method.  He felt it would make everything too rigid, too unable to adapt.  He eventually caved in to the demand but it's very arguable that he was correct.

It's ironic then that the very thing its creator opposed the most is the thing that ended up stereotyping the method.  When most people think "Suzuki Method" they think about this:

or, if you're vintage like me:

Teachers will teach from these books and claim to be "Suzuki" teachers.  But the books alone are not what make the method.  The Suzuki Method is an approach to teaching, pure and simple.  If there had to be one or the other, a teacher would be more "Suzuki" if he/she used his own set of music but followed the principles of the approach vs. someone who just used the book and never studied the method.
This is very, very important to …

Passive vs. Active Listening

Listening should be the cornerstone for any type of musical training.  Music is sound art.  Without knowing what has been accomplished, how can a student know what could be accomplished?

Intonation, rhythm, musicality, phrasing, tone, and artistry are just a few of the things we learn from listening to music.  But not all listening is equal.  It's important to understand the two main types in order to really make the experience effective.

Passive listening is having the piece or pieces you are learning going on in the background.  It could be a single piece or an entire set of repertoire your teacher expects you to become familiar with.  Passive listening should not be intrusive.  The music should be at a moderate to low volume so you can concentrate on other things.

The idea behind passive listening is to start learning the cadences and patterns to your piece.  It's similar to trying to learn a language.  If you have Spanish radio on you start to become comfortable with the e…