Review is such an important part of the Suzuki Method.
It sets the foundation on which more advanced pieces can be built, allows us to play with other people easily & helps make our technical skills easier because we revisit them over and over.
Sometimes the review process can get a little stale and it’s good to find new ways to keep it fresh and interesting.
Younger students may be more motivated by games & dice or drawing cards where teens (at least in my studio) tend to be more motivated by social situations or using review to accomplish something. That being said some of these ideas will appeal to all ages.
Leave your favorite review ideas in the comments!
Here are 20 different ways to review to get us started . . .
I am in the midst of expanding my parent education materials, for the new families in my studio, this year and the second week of materials will focus on what I think are the most important things to keep in mind about practice.
I narrowed it down to 7 items (I am sure there are more but these will get people started on the right foot in my experience).
Rewards can be powerful motivation! There are a lot of opinions about whether rewards really help or hurt motivation and that has gotten me thinking lately about how I use rewards with my students.
As a music teacher I’d like my students to be motivated by making great music. While I think that’s a reasonable goal for older students, very young students may need some additional outside motivation to keep them going (at least that’s what I’ve found).
I’ve gone through many phases as a teacher – some where I give out a lot of stickers and little prizes to students & some where I give ideas to parents and let them implement what they think will work with their children at home. Other times I haven’t really done much at all.
Lately I’ve been doing a few practice challenges in my studio and have been re-thinking how much rewards are helping vs hurting students. I read an interesting perspective on this from Gretchen Rubin who studies how people make and keep habits & her research has helped me clarify how I want to go about reward giving going forward. . .
When my daughters were young and it was time to practice, for some un-explainable reason the hardest part was getting the instrument out of the case. It really took about 2 minutes but some days it would seem like such a daunting task! We learned that keeping the instrument out of the case (and also out of reach so it stayed safe) made it more convenient to get started right away.
There are many little things like this that we can do to make it easier to get practice and listening done.
It’s human nature to do what is convenient and avoid what is inconvenient and it’s a great idea to look at our practice routines and to see if there is any way to make them more convenient so we’re more likely to follow through.
“People often ask me, “What surprised you most about habits?” One thing that continually astonished me is the degree to which we’re influenced by sheer convenience. The amount of effort, time, or decision making required by an action has a huge influence on habit formation. To a truly remarkable extent, we’re more likely to do something if it’s convenient, and less likely if it’s not.”
~ Gretchen Rubin Better than Before
This is 2nd in a series about Gretchen Rubin’s book Better than Before, a fantastic book about making and break habits. It gives great insights, on habit formation, that can be used when studying & teaching music as well as forming any other type of habit.
One of my favorite podcasters, and experts on making new habits, is Gretchen Rubin (http://www.GretchenRubin.com). Her book Better than Before explains how to make new habits and how to understand how you approach the process. It is full of useful tips – I highly recommend it.
As I have been planning my fall studio schedule and answering some questions from new parents about whether or not lessons will start the first week of school, I realized that one of the points in Gretchen Rubin’s book was my main argument for starting right away. The strategy of the clean slate . . .
This summer I have spent a week at both the Oregon Suzuki Institute and American Suzuki Institute (Steven’s Point) and they were amazing weeks of music, connecting with colleagues and fun! I want to encourage my students to attend next year and have been thinking about how to help make it a part of my studio’s culture that a group of us always go.
When my calendar of events goes out to families this fall I plan to put the week of Institute on the studio schedule with a note that a group of us will attend. I understand that a lot goes into making something like this work and I want to help make it as easy as possible
The Suzuki Method is amazing . . . I could fill a whole book with stories about students, teachers and families who can attest to the fact that their lives have been changed for the better because of how this method has impacted them in musical and non musical ways alike.
Professional orchestra players and a number of well-known soloists got their start through the Suzuki Method – so there’s proof that it works for raising professional musicians and great adults who pursue other careers alike.
Suzuki parents: all the effort and hard work you put into this is worth it. There are a lot of must dos in order to parent a Suzuki student : practice everyday, attend lessons and group classes, listen to recordings daily, and attend recitals and performances. Teachers constantly ask you ” Did you listen this week?” “How many days did you practice?” “Are you able to come to X,Y, Z event/class/workshop?”
So much to do in an already busy life . . .
But it’s not really about all that – it’s not about what your child does today that is most important.
To make hard skills easy
To have music ready to play with others
To build confidence
To build technique
In our culture we tend to value novelty and consider anything new to be exciting. Especially as adults, many of us love variety and newness.
In the Suzuki method we emphasize mastery and review. Sometimes, that can create a tension between this desire for newness and what you are being asked to do in practice with your child. However, it is this repetition that helps young players build skills on their instrument and connections in the brain.
I have never been a one size fits all teacher – I’m always trying to figure out what makes each student light up, learn more easily and be more receptive to my teaching. In my experience, the Suzuki Triangle works best when everyone makes an effort to understand and respect each other’s point of view. Because this is an important part of my teaching, I was very excited to hear about Michele Monahan Horner ‘s new Book Life Lens: Seeing Your Children in Color.
I’m always thrilled when a parent asks me for advice about how to practice better at home! I try to make it clear in parent education that this is something I like to help with & that parents need not struggle through alone. It’s always great when someone takes me up on the offer to problem solve together. Often I have ideas that I’ve come up with, that I’ve heard from wonderful colleagues or we try out new ideas together.