The Accomplished Learner – My Version

Accomplished Learner

The following is my vision of an accomplished learner and accomplished Suzuki family at any level of study. These are in no particular order.

  1. Balanced body to allow for ease of playing – Feet are flat, knees unlocked, spine is balanced, movement is possible and musically appropriate
  2. Balanced violin posture for ease of playing, allows for future development
  3. Balanced bow hold for ease of playing and tone production, allows for future development
  4. Balanced and free left hand, allows for future development
  5. Intonation – correct intonation with ringing tone
  6. Bowing – able to perform bowings, bow distribution, articulation, and dynamics correctly
  7. Memory – able to remember previous pieces and finds memorizing new music easy
  8. Listening – listens daily to recordings of repertoire including review and upcoming music; listen to other high quality performances of their current and upcoming pieces by professional musicians; they listen to other high quality music regularly (classical, fiddle, jazz etc.)
  9. Musicality – feels and plays music with dynamics, phrasing, breathing, beautiful tone, not just playing notes
  10. Tone – has a good concept of what tone is and how to achieve good tone; knows that they are able to achieve a beautiful tone in all of their playing
  11. Rhythm/Tempo – feels rhythmic pulse/beat and can keep pieces steady in appropriate tempo; performs rhythms of piece correctly
  12. Review Repertoire – reviews regularly; understands the value of review; reviews meaningfully (knows the purpose of review in a given practice session and improves piece rather than playing through notes); continues to improve review to new standards as they grow musically.
  13. Performance – willing and able to perform regularly; feels comfortable on stage; feels prepared for concerts, understands when a piece is ready to be performed; able to play concert pieces musically and without technical mistakes
  14. Learning process – is able to take direction and instruction from parent and teacher; is able to teach themselves through self-correction of pieces and exploring the notes of new pieces; understands that mistakes are a big part of learning and that it is okay to make mistakes but one must also strive to improve their ability so that mistakes are uncommon.
  15. Ensembles – performs well in ensemble; can hear others in the group; can follow the leader; can lead when called upon; blends musically with the group; upholds their part of the ensemble (group class, chamber music etc).
  16. Home Practice – plays, practices, and performs regularly at home; home practices are effective and result in improvement; practice sessions are long enough for age and technical level; an encouraging learning environment is created for home practice; parents are involved in the home practice until at least age 13; parents and students are clear on how to conduct an effective home practice; parent and student respect each other in home practice.
  17. Lessons – lessons and group lessons are attended regularly; students and parents are clear on their assignments before leaving the room; ask appropriate questions if the assignment is not clear; the parent and student are respectful of the lesson environment and the teacher.
  18. Feedback – student and parent are able to give the student meaningful positive and instructive feedback in order to help the student
  19. Music is a priority – the student enjoys music and feels that music is an important part of their life and their family’s life. Music is a priority for the student and the family. They have musical friends and role models to emulate. They have musical goals to strive towards. Music is a lifelong experience.
  20. Student and family are good musical citizens – the are supportive of other musicians; attend and perform in concerts regularly; they are good audience members, they are curious about, and respectful of, music of all types; they are role models for younger students.
  21. The student and their family has created an environment in which they learn effectively and enjoyably and continue to learn and play music throughout their lives.

Parent-Teacher Interviews

This week is for parent-teacher interviews in my studio. My school has been doing this for a couple of years now and I find it really helpful. It has taken the parents a little while to get used to the idea of having a lesson *just* for them but we must remember that parents are one full side of the Suzuki triangle. Without parents, the Suzuki philosophy wouldn’t work. I am really looking forward to this week, I hope to learn more about home practice and tips for helping their child in particular. Parents, I love your children as my students and I know a lot about how they learn, but as a teacher I only see them for for a short time each week – you can help me by letting me in on what approach works best, changes at home that might be affecting them, and just what they love/hate most about learning music! The student-teacher dynamic is very different from the parent-child dynamic but if we work together we can really create the best environment for your child to learn and have a rewarding life in music.

Below are some questions to guide our discussions:

Parent – Teacher Interview Areas of Discussion:

Home Practice – How is it going?Do you need any support, ideas, advice? How often do you practice, when, where, how long, what is the structure of your home practice?        How do you feel as home teacher? How can I support your home practice/lessons?

Group Lessons – Do you attend regularly?How are the classes?Which group are you in?Is it an appropriate level?Is what I assign in the lesson consistent with what is covered in the group classes?

Studio Lessons – Do I communicate well with the student?Do you have any suggestions or advice for communicating with your child?Do I assign reasonable amounts of practice for a week at home?Are my instructions clear for home practice?Do you have a notebook in which to jot down what is assigned?Do you feel engaged enough during the lessons? Do you have suggestions for how you’d like to participate more in the lessons?

Listening – How often do you listen?Do you have the CD for the next book?Do you have multiple copies of the CD in various places?

Review – Do you review during every home lesson/practice?Do you have the review-u-do sheet printed for reference?Are you clear on how and why we do review?How can I help support your review at home?

Concerts and Performances – Do you feel your child has enough performance opportunities?Any other comments about performances?

Musical Development – Why did you start music with your child?What are your general hopes for your child in the area of music and violin?Do you have any specific goals for your child’s musical development with which I can help?

General – do you have any other concerns or issues you’d like to address? (behaviour, communication etc.)Is your child enjoying the overall experience of learning the violin? Which areas does (s)he (dis)like the most?Are you enjoying the overall experience of helping your child to learn the violin? Which areas do you (dis)like the most?