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Rate of Development Part 2

I went into the bowing development class with a healthy appreciation for the separate challenges the left hand and right hand face.  Getting both sides of the body to work together in a coordinated fashion is no small feat!  Furthermore, the idea of the "one point" lesson is a cornerstone of Suzuki philosophy.  Skills are developed by being broken down to simple, more manageable, tasks.

So the concept of bow exercises to develop the right hand was not new to me.  The breakthrough moment for me was why they are so important.  Early on in the course the instructor made the observation: "The left hand and right hand develop at different rates."  It was such a simple observation that I couldn't believe the thought had never occurred to me!

This really made me rethink my whole "three player" approach when working with students.  All three players must work together, yes.  But it's also possible that maybe one of the players isn't quite ready for a certain task.  Is the difficulty stemming from coordination?  Or is from a lack of physical strength?  It's an interesting teaching conundrum, to say the least.

In truth, I have no answers to these questions just yet.  But suffice to say, I've put a lot of effort into internalizing this new point of view.  I realized that I placed an heavy amount of emphasis preparing a student's left hand but, in many ways, neglected the right.  Just because the bow hand is able to play the current piece doesn't mean it's developmentally ready to tackle the next piece.

This is an interesting challenge for me because I've never really given "bow readiness" much thought.  I know what I want to see out of the left hand fingers before the student moves past certain pieces but I'm not quite sure yet where my standard is for the right hand.  Where should the student be at the end of book 1?  What's a good book 2 standard?  The sheer fact that I couldn't exactly pinpoint what it was that I wanted was proof that there was truth in what Cathy Lee had said about bow hand development.

I've been working to rectify this situation.  "Breakthrough" teaching moments sometimes take me many months to process.  It involves testing new ideas along with waiting long enough to see the results of the work.  As one teacher trainer put it, "you have to make it your own."


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