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Interview with Dr. Molly Gebrian on the Neuroscience Behind Block vs. Random Practice

Welcome to Rethinking Genius, Molly! Can you tell us a little about your background in teaching and neuroscience?

Thank you for inviting me to do this, Danielle! I was a Suzuki kid myself (I studied with David Einfeldt at the Hartt Suzuki Institute from the time I started at age 7), and I’ve done some Suzuki teacher training, but these days, I’m a college professor teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. I’ve been teaching for about 15 years, from 4-year old beginners, all the way up through graduate students. As far as neuroscience goes, I was a double-degree student at Oberlin College and Conservatory, majoring in viola performance and neuroscience. I had no plans to continue with neuroscience (it was just something I found fascinating, that I did for fun!), but when I got to New England Conservatory of Music for grad school, something was missing. My roommate at NEC, who had also been at Oberlin with me, participated in a study at Harvard looking at musicians’ versus …

The Private Teaching Business Model

Over my years of teaching I've come across a wide variety of interpretations about the private teaching business model.  I feel that this is a natural result of the type of society we live in.  Many services these days are either "subscriptions" or "appointments."  For example, a gym membership is a subscription.  You pay a monthly fee to use the facility at any time during their hours of operation.  A doctor's visit or a haircut is an "appointment."  You call ahead to set up a time, you show up and then pay after the services have concluded.

With most services falling into one of these two categories, most people try to rationalize music lessons as one or the other.  However, music lessons are neither subscriptions or appointments.  They are actually a combination of both if the business entity is going to be successful.

The reasons why this hybrid business model occurs are:

1)  The service itself is centered around personal attention (appointmen…

Principles of Sowing and Reaping for the Suzuki Parent: 5 Steps to Beginning Suzuki Success by Preparing the Soil

Last school year, I started a group of 4-5 year old students in a pre-twinkle cello class. One mother actively ignited her daughter Ella’s interest in the cello before enrolling in the program. Over the course of a few months, she helped Ella prepare to engage in a new learning process. They observed lessons, listened to cello music, talked about the cello, and actively built Ella’s excitement - all before starting lessons.

This experience allowed me to see how much a parent can cultivate their child’s interest, motivation, and readiness. It gave me a new appreciation for the parents’ role in preparing young children for a positive Suzuki experience.

Here are five ways to prepare the soil to help your child succeed in a Suzuki experience.


1. Build Your Knowledge

Parents are integral to the success of the Suzuki process. If you start a young child in a Suzuki program, your role as a parent will be very active. Your knowledge and education about the Suzuki method and philosophy helps y…