Search This Blog

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What is a Suzuki Teacher?

Recently, I received a lengthy email asking me to comment about a particular teaching situation. I thought the questions raised were worth addressing for everyone to read, so I am doing a blog post about it. I welcome anyone else's comments or suggestions as well.

To summarize the email, there were three issues raised:
  1. What is a true Suzuki teacher? How can a parent tell if the teacher is really a trained Suzuki teacher? What should a parent look for when searching for a Suzuki teacher?
  2. What should a new parent expect for the child in terms of lessons and learning? Will there be an instrument involved, or will the teacher be waiting until the child is older before beginning actual lessons and instead spending the early years playing games or focusing on other non-Suzuki programs?
  3. What is the parent's role during the lesson? Should the parent interact to discipline the child or should the parent stay out of the way and let the teacher handle it?
These are all three important questions, so I will address them one by one. As I began this task, I realized that these questions raised very important and lengthy points. I will respond in three parts in three separate blog posts, beginning with the question of "What is a true Suzuki teacher?"

I put my name on any available teacher referral list, even though I may not live in the area where the teacher referral list is maintained. I do this so that I have an opportunity to educate the public concerning what Suzuki education is and how to look for a Suzuki teacher. I am not sure if it is possible to tell if a teacher is a trained Suzuki teacher, but there are some common character-
istics and experiences that are shared by all Suzuki teachers. There are many teachers who may be highly qualified to be good teachers. However, if a parent chooses to select a Suzuki-trained teacher, then there are a few guidelines that might help the parent's search.

Let me be clear: there are many qualified teachers available, however they may not be Suzuki-trained. I have encountered many teachers who claimed to be "Suzuki teachers" but who in fact did not take any Suzuki training. Instead, these particular teachers rely on such support as "I grew up learning under the Suzuki Method," or "I've used the Suzuki materials for years."

As for growing up studying under the Suzuki Method, I am fairly certain that most of my students would not be able to recite the teaching points to every song, even though we spend a lot of time working on these points. Nor would my students have the benefit and wisdom of having studied these materials from a teacher's perspective, which is to say an educator's perspective and experience. The teaching side of the fence is vastly different than the student side, as any teacher will tell you.

As for the teacher who uses the Suzuki materials for years, I have met many of those same teachers in Suzuki teacher training courses. These are the same teachers, highly qualified I will remind you, who then sit back in amazement at what they have learned during the teacher training courses and say, "I'll never skip teaching that song ever again! In fact, I won't ever go out of order or skip any of the Suzuki songs!" Or, they will admit that they had no idea of the depth and wealth of skills and ability learning opportunities that could be found in each piece of the Suzuki Method repertoire. That is the value of the specialized Suzuki teacher training.

So, first and foremost, a "Suzuki teacher" will have taken teacher training somewhere, sometime. If asked, the teacher will be able to tell you where, when, and what course the teacher took. If you feel more comfortable finding out the information without asking the teacher directly, contact the Suzuki Association of the Americas at www.suzukiassociation.org or call its office at 303-444-0948 or 888-378-9854. If a teacher has taken teacher training, he or she will have registered that training with the SAA.

The second most crucial component of the Suzuki Method of Talent Education is the group class. Individual lessons are important, but so are the group classes. Group classes are a great way to motivate students in their music learning. Students enjoy the classes and look forward to them. Group classes afford students an opportunity to learn from students who are more advanced than they are, and also for older students to learn leadership skills and act as role models for younger, less advanced students. At the same time, all students learn in a group setting, so there are opportunities to learn social skill interaction, ensemble playing, and teamwork responsibilities. My second question to any potential "Suzuki teacher" is whether they maintain a group class.

The format of the group class may not be as formal. I know of several successful Suzuki teachers who maintain group classes combined with other teachers' studios. I recall when I first started seriously teaching. I did not have a group class in the beginning because of the difficulties of finding a suitable location and making appropriate financial arrangements. After I began doing group classes, I immediately understood the benefit of teaching them. It was a great opportunity to reach all my students at one time. My group class structure has altered over the years as the students have changed. Some years are lean years because the particular group of students are heavily involved in other extracurricular activities, such as sports or family. I have had some wonderful group class years with full classes, large ensembles, and many performance opportunities. The attendance numbers may vary over time, but the students' enthusiasm for the classes do not.

The third question I would ask any potential Suzuki teacher is whether the parent could come and observe the teacher in action during lessons and group classes. Any Suzuki-trained teacher will welcome a visitor to the individual lessons and group classes. Anyone, especially new parents and students, are welcome to visit (and hopefully interact) with my studio at any time. In fact, I publish my performances as well, so that potential students and their parents have an opportunity to observe my abilities and skills first hand and to meet me in person at recitals and symphony concerts.

There may be many teachers who teach with the Suzuki guidelines of nurturing, enthusiasm, and parental involvement. However, when a parent contacts a potential teacher with the intent of finding a "Suzuki teacher," that the teacher should be upfront about what services he or she will offer. I think that a teacher should not label him- or herself as a "Suzuki teacher" unless the teacher has in fact taken sanctioned Suzuki teacher training and then also embodies the Suzuki philosophy by offering group classes, among other things. There is no reason to hide the actual circumstances from a prospective parent.

A teacher's purpose should always be the growth and benefit to the student. There are many roads to the same destination in all endeavors. I happen to have chosen the Suzuki Method as my route in music education, and I use the Suzuki principles in my university teaching as well. The Suzuki Method of Talent Education is more than just a "method" of teaching a student how to play an instrument. Dr. Suzuki used the violin as a vehicle to teach his students how to be upstanding and productive members of society. I also believe that the violin (or music education) is a wondrous vehicle to impart important life skills to my students and their parents. I also happen to believe that the Suzuki Method of Talent Education is one of the best ways to accomplish this lofty goal.

Practice Tip: Building Tone with Open Strings

I think Dr. Suzuki hit on a brilliant idea when he suggested that we practice tonalizing on our open strings. I would like to share my experience with you on this matter.

For those readers who are unfamiliar with the term "tonalization," and apparently my spell checker is unfamiliar with the word, Dr. Suzuki coined this word to describe what we instrumentalists do in comparison to the vocalization that vocalists do. Just as singers work to produce good quality tone and volume, so too can we instrumentalists.

Tone is a broad topic, but we do not need to discuss what tone is in order to understand how best to produce it. Dr. Suzuki suggested plucking the open strings and listening to the resonance of the pitch and then recreating the "ringing" sound with the bow playing the same pitch. There is something special about the resonance of our open strings. There is a brightness, a clarity, and a lingering and shimmering vibration in the air. The open strings sparkle and emit an extra "umph" in their sound.

When I am working with a student to build a stronger tone, I ask the student to play open strings as much as possible. For example, when playing notes on the D string, I might ask a student to play the open D string as strongly as possible about 6-8 times before playing the D string passage. Similarly, I will ask for repeated A strings or E strings. I notice that once a student has played an open string numerous times with the aim of making the string vibrate back and forth as widely as possible with as slow a bow as possible, the student then works to make the passage live up to the tone level set by the resonating open strings. I also think there is a kinesthetic value to this exercise, as students learn how to "feel" the pitch as well as hear the pitch with all its resonant overtones. I find that playing this open string exercise on the G string is quite lovely; the vibrations I produce resemble the same variations used in meditation chants, which help to stimulate the internal organs.

I have a simple tune that I like to use for this purpose, called "Lullaby." Originally I found this little song in David Tasgal's "Family Violin Method" and used it as an open string song in my PreTwinkler classes. My students loved it so much, the song has become a regular feature in my classes. One young student even went so far as to secure Mr. Tasgal's permission to record the song onto his mother's folk song CD.

Mr. Tasgal has graciously given me permission to print the music for this cute little tune. I myself use this tune to get focused for a practice session or to test out the resonance in a new performance hall. I can feel my back muscles relax as I play the song and concentrate on getting the most resonance from each open string. I play the song through two times; the first time I start the piece with a down bow, and the second time I reverse the bowing by starting with an up bow. My young students like it so much, they spend a great deal of time and effort to learn to play the song. I notice that my students have to expend a lot of concentration and focus energy to change the strings correctly and to use longer, slower bows. For a young PreTwinkler student to spend the time and effort to achieve this ability is a tribute to Mr. Tasgal's composition. My students enjoy this tune.

I have printed out a copy done on Finale, because it was easier for me to put it on my blog in this manner.


&<span class="goog-spellcheck-word" style="background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: yellow; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; ">lt</span>;<span class="goog-spellcheck-word" style="background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: yellow; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; ">bgsound</span> <span class="goog-spellcheck-word" style="background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: yellow; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; ">src</span>="NAME OF FILE">
The only way I could figure out how to add an audio recording to the blog was to make a "video" of the song while playing it on my computer. If anyone knows how to embed an audio player on blogger, please contact me. Meanwhile, here is the recording I made:

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/UrQ8u34laQo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Mr. Tasgal has gone on to publish a new series, "Strings Fun and Easy." I have not yet had a chance to look through those books, but I will write out my experience once I have looked through them. You can learn more about Mr. Tasgal and his new series at: http://www.stringsfunandeasy.com/. The previous series, "Family Violin Method" can be found at: http://www.familystringmethod.com/, although Mr. Tasgal is encouraging newcomers to try out the new series.

Have fun playing those open strings this week. And if you have not changed your strings in a while, or your students are playing with dull, lifeless strings, buy new ones! You will enjoy playing this song with bright, shiny, new resonating strings!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Morning Check In: Just Desserts!

"Increasing your self-esteem is easy. Simply do good things and remember that you did them." -- John-Roger

When I first wrote this article, it was the last Monday in November 2011. To give you some perspective, at the time I wrote this, four more Mondays remained in the year 2011 after that day. We were in the final push to the end of the year, and I thought there was much that we could accomplish despite the holidays.

As I looked forward to a new year and a new beginning to some of my goals, I began the process of looking back at the past year to contemplate what I had accomplished. When I looked back through the previous months, I realized that I had accomplished a great deal. There was much for me to celebrate.

Asking the question "what did I accomplish?" is the first step in Jinny Ditzler's "Your Best Year Yet!" book. Jinny starts with this question in order to guide us in a positive direction. Too often we have an unbalanced perception of who we are, what value we give, and why we matter to the world. When we reflect on the answer to Jinny's question, we balance our perspective with what we actually accomplished and have not taken the time to acknowledge.

I have the added benefit of preparing an annual report for my employer about my activities during the year. I routinely make a habit of listing all the performances, creative and scholarly activities, teaching workshops, and service I have given or done. So I usually go through this question pretty thoroughly anyway. Along with the usual list of tangible accomplishments, there are other accomplishments to consider adding to the list. Perhaps we had a difficult year and we managed to survive it with a good attitude -- a worthy accomplishment to celebrate. Perhaps we kept within budgetary or dietary restraints more times than not. Perhaps we did several acts of kindness on a routine basis. Perhaps we expressed more optimism or graciousness in our daily interactions with others.

There are many things that we can add to our list of accomplishments. It is important that we remember what we have actually done this past year. It is necessary that we celebrate our achievements before we begin the process of adding new goals to the picture.

Jinny's first step is important. Do not neglect to take the time to thoroughly answer this question. I titled this post as "Just Desserts" as a play on words. The actual idiom expression is "just deserts," which means that one receives what one deserves. However, in my topic today, I want us to focus on celebration. I used the "dessert" spelling to encourage us to bring the same attitude to our celebration that we do when we eat dessert.

Let me leave you with some quotations to contemplate this week as you prepare your master list of accomplishments:

"Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment." -- Thomas Carlyle

"A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval." -- Mark Twain

Have a great week! Celebrate those accomplishments!

Happy Practicing!

----- Paula -----


© 2016 by Paula E. Bird

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving

This will be an unusual post from what I normally write here. I have been very busy in the past two months with a great number of recitals, symphony services, new puppies and training, Thanksgiving preparation, end-of-semester preparation, and the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I apologize for not posting more in this past month, but I had a daily goal of writing 2,000 words for the NaNo project, and I had a few tough weeks back there trying to squeeze in everything else at the same time. So sorry I have not been as active on the blog as usual.

First, let me say how touched I have been to read your many notes and comments to me. It is sometimes a very lonely life as a writer, because there are so few opportunities to interact directly with readers. I do not receive very much reaction or many comments, so I have not developed the habit of checking my comments very often. Imagine my surprise to check things today and discover so many lovely comments from so many people! How very sweet of you all to take the time to write to me! You have given me a precious gift of encouragement and renewed enthusiasm. More posts to come!

Second, I want to offer my thanks to you for allowing me the opportunity to stand on a soapbox and preach about good (and bad) teaching, parenting, and learning. I do have a message about the importance of all of us becoming and being the best that we can be for the sake of our children, and I appreciate that you have been supportive of my efforts to "get the word out."

Third, I really do encourage you to write to me either as a comment or as a personal email. Your comments and emails to me provide me with ideas and prod me to think of new and interesting ways to solve many of the problems we face together. I am thankful that you take the time to let me know what you would find helpful to discuss in future blog posts.

Fourth, I am also open to guest posts, interviews, book reviews, and the like. If you have an idea, a contribution, or some news to share, please let me know. Dr. Suzuki was never one to limit his instruction or materials to an elite group of teachers, so I am personally sure that he would bless our continued exploration into the realm of teaching materials and ideas, whether they bear the Suzuki "stamp of approval" or not. Send me your thoughts and we will take it from there.

Fifth, I am proud to announce that I successfully completed the NaNoWriMo 2011! I finished and uploaded my novel for validation at midnight November 24, 2011 (or should I say November 25?). I successfully completed over 50,000 words written in November on the project. Actually I was over the minimum, and I actually have one little section more to add. I have a few more days until the final deadline to add that material, but officially I have "won" at this point. I am very proud of meeting this goal, and I spent some time this morning contemplating the various lessons I learned from the experience. The biggest thing I learned is that carpal tunnel is a serious issue! We really need to be conscious of how we hold our wrists when we use our computers. This is a serious topic for a future blog post, I assure you!

So there you have it. I have been really busy, but I am coming to a place where I can resume my regular posting. I welcome your ideas about future posts. I have been working my way through book 1, but I am perfectly willing to jump around to another place as folks direct. I have had a request for new or beginner mom tips. Let me know.

NaNoWriMo Winner's Badge 2011

Oh, for those who are interested in what my NaNo writing project was, I was writing a book about how to set up and run a music teaching studio. Since the NaNo rules require that the work be fiction and my writing project contemplated nonfiction, I was stumped about how to participate in this November ritual, which is something I have always wanted to try. I discussed my disappointment with some writing friends, and they slapped me around a little bit. I refused to cheat, because I would know that I was cheating, and that just is not who I am. Then someone reminded me of Truman Capote's creative nonfiction genre, that got me thinking, and there you have it! I found the solution to my dilemma.

I have titled the book "The Music Studio" for now as a working title. I created four characters in various stages of teaching experience and life in general, and I let the book unfold each day in 2,000 word increments. I found the experience exhilarating in how the story took shape. Each character brought unique perspectives and problems into bas relief, and I was able to address in writing each subject area. I came up with more ideas for the book than I had originally planned to use. I was also surprised to see how much the book and the characters in the book depended on the inclusion of various goal setting exercises. There are many, many different ways to set goals, and I realized while writing the book that many of these goal setting tools were more appropriate at various times in our lives. I had not thought of goal setting in that manner before, but the fictional component of my story brought this aspect to the forefront for me.

Of course, now I have a mass of words to edit. I hope to spend December doing just that.

Happy Thanksgiving (one day late)! Enjoy those leftovers and a nap or two.

-- Paula

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Monday Morning Check In: Take Time Off if You Need It!


This is the Monday before Thanksgiving. A few of my most conscientious parents have expressed concern that the practice (and lesson) schedule would change and that the student would lose ground during this week.

I used to worry about this too when I first began teaching. If I went away for a few weeks on a summer vacation, I worried that my students would get worse in the time I was away. My husband made an observation at the time, which I still find to be true today. He said if I was a good teacher that I could expect one of two things to happen: (1) they would get better, or (2) they would stay the same. I found his observation to be true, although I also worried at the time whether or not I was a "good" teacher. Thankfully, I know now that I am a good teacher, and I have found that my students generally do make some progress. I have not had anyone actually get worse.

I recall one really terrific Suzuki mom when her daughter first began her lessons. Her daughter started at age 3, and mom took the practicing plan very seriously. Mom participated in the 100 day club in order to strengthen the practicing habit, and then when they reached the 100 day goal, the little daughter asked if they could continue practicing for the 200 day goal. This was obviously a mom who had formed good, regular practice habits.

Then there came the time when the family had a scheduled vacation camping trip, and the mom worried that they could not take the violin with them since they would be camping on a beach in the hot Texas weather. As mom was relating this story, I could see that she was experiencing a great deal of stress, probably due to the trip preparations. All of a sudden, mom burst into tears. All because they would not be able to keep practicing on their regular schedule, and mom was afraid they would lose ground. All because of a four day camping trip!

I gave that mom my whole-hearted permission to go camping, and I insisted that she leave the violin at home and stop worrying about the practice routine. Obviously they needed a break!

As I wrote a few weeks back, sometimes we need a "breather," a step back week, or just a mental health day off (i.e., a Sabbath). Do not obsess about this or worry about it. Just take it and enjoy it! Use the time to do something different and recharge your batteries, your mental outlook, and your big picture perspective.

This is a holiday week for many of us. Let us take some time and enjoy it. Let us visit with family and friends. We do not always have much time to do this with our regular schedules, so let us take that time now. The time spent together and the time spent forging stronger connections with each other are the important things. If we have time to practice together, that will be icing on the cake. Maybe we can arrange to do a special concert for our visitors or the family, but in the absence of any such opportunity, we can enjoy still each other’s company.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Morning Check In: It's Not Too Late!

I looked at the calendar today and counted the number of days and weeks until the end of the year. Basically there are seven weeks left, or 48 days to be precise (including today). Why do I bring that up?

In December 2010 and January 2011, I wrote and posted a series of articles about reviewing the year, setting goals, and using accountability tools. So today I wonder how well we did this past year. I wonder if we are still on track to accomplish the goals we set at the beginning of the year. There is some time left to make a final push or at least to make some measurable progress toward completing our goals. Here are some questions to get you thinking about whether you met your goal. While you think, you might also reflect on what goals you might set next year.
  • Am I on track to accomplishing my goal?
  • If I am not on track, how far off the mark am I? How much more do I need to do until I have reached my success point?
  • Can I find a way to make a final push to finish my goal?
  • If I cannot achieve my goal, is there a way that I can achieve a portion of my goal?

Do not fall into the trap of waiting until January 1 to reset any current unachieved goal. Six weeks or 48 days remain in the year 2011 in which you can make some forward motion. If you allow yourself to waste what remaining time you have left in the year, you fall into the broken china way of thinking. This way of thinking says that when we break one plate in a set of china, we say, “oh well, I’ve broken one piece of the china set, I might as well break all the rest of the plates.” We would not do that, and yet we too often do just that by blowing the rest of our diet that week, or weekend, or give up working on whatever remains of our goal. This is a prime example of "all or nothing" thinking and one of the biggest fallacies to prevent our success. Instead, why not consider the "broken plate" as a vital lesson to be learned instead of an excuse to give up trying. Why not then renew the goal at that moment and the commitment to move forward?

If you have given up or altered your goals since the beginning of January, now might be a good time to consider what you learned from the experience with a view toward setting and achieving a more successful goal next time. Here are the ten questions suggested by Jinny S. Ditzler in her “Your Best Year Yet!” book and program (http://www.bestyearyet.com). Here is a link to my blog post earlier this year for a more detailed description of the questions at http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com/2011/01/monday-morning-new-year-new-week.html).
  • What did I accomplish?
  • What were my biggest disappointments?
  • What did I learn?
  • How do I limit myself and how can I stop?
  • What are my personal values?
  • What roles do I play in my life?
  • Which role is my major focus for the next year?
  • What are my goals for each role?
  • What are my top ten goals for the next year?
  • How can I make sure I achieve my top ten goals?
As you consider how best to spend the time remaining in the year 2011, give some thought to the previous ten questions. We can learn much about ourselves in this ten-question process, and what we learn will guide us to setting and achieving stronger goals in the future.

Beware: this is that time of year when I begin nagging about goal setting. I cannot help myself. There is something about the end of the year pressure that goads me into this goal setting mindset. So start thinking about this past year and the next year to come, because I anticipate that this subject will come up again. Frequently. I like setting goals. I like the results that I (and my students) achieve from setting goals. I like the feeling I get when I have provided myself with a strong sense of direction and a road map to follow. I know you will enjoy sharing this road with me, so get cracking for the rest of 2011! It's not too late!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Morning Check In: It's the Thought That Counts!

"A person is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts." -- As a Man Thinketh by James Allen.

Periodically I need to remind myself of the truth and power of the above statement. James Allen's little book sets forth a very powerful message, and I read it frequently. If you do not already own a copy of this work, I highly recommend that you add this to your library. If you do a Google search, you will pull up many websites that offer a free copy. My favorite site is: http://www.asamanthinketh.net/. I also have a lovely book written by Vic Johnson entitled "Day by Day With James Allen." This book contains the complete text of the James Allen book along with 31 daily readings or essays written by Mr. Johnson about various points made by James Allen.

My focus today is about our ability to control our destiny by the thoughts that we have. "We are where we are today because of all the thoughts we have had up until today." Thus Vic Johnson suggests that our present and future will be the result of what we have accumulated in our thoughts until now. This is a hard premise to swallow because it turns the spotlight onto us to reveal our innermost thinking. By revealing our innermost thinking, we have to step up and take responsibility for the state of our lives and for our current problems (and successes).

When you read that last statement, do you feel a wee bit itchy and uncomfortable? I know I do. What a difficult concept to accept, that anything yucky in my life is the result of something that I have created. Do not allow yourself to feel miserable and wallow in this truth. Instead, celebrate the flip side: you can change your thinking and thus change your situation!

Just by changing my thoughts? Probably not just by changing your thinking, that that is a powerful first step to changing the actions that you take. What thoughts we dwell on will encourage us to follow certain paths that reflect these thoughts.

I thought about this issue quite a bit this week. I thought about what discouraging thoughts I had about certain student behaviors in my studio. Rather than continue to dwell on the negative side of my thoughts, I made a conscious effort to frame my desires in a positive way. I chose to think about the student behaviors I expected in my studio. I looked for ways to express the positive things that I desired in current my life. I framed my positive thinking into a series of short affirmative statements in the present tense.

I noticed that my week flowed smoother and more pleasantly. I seemed to have better success all around in my teaching, so much so, that I will continue to examine my thoughts and expectations this week, and keep up the exercise of controlling my thoughts by making sure that my thoughts are statements that will reflect the good things that I want to happen in my life right now and in the future.

Think about it. What are you thinking about? Is it positive or negative? Is it hopeful or discouraging? Is it useful or miserable? It might help to keep up a daily journal where you can record your thoughts and examine them more thoroughly. Give it some thought as to how your thoughts have brought you to the place you are in today. Change your situation by changing your thoughts.

Have a good week!

Nat'l Novel Writing Month Badge
I am a participant in 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Quick Practice Tip: Mind Your T's and P's!

Here is a quick practice tip to strengthen your ability to articulate the beginnings of notes and to increase your palette of articulation choices at the same time.

Take a simple song with a series of continuing eighth notes. An example would be "Perpetual Motion" from Suzuki violin book 1 (song #9). Practice the song and strive to perform different sounding articulations.

I liken articulation to pronouncing consonants in speech. The English language has 21 various consonant sounds. There are several rather unique sounds: T, C or K (as in "kah"), P, or M, etc. I practice Perpetual Motion and work to get my bow to articulate and imitate one of the consonants.

The "T" sound is the usual sound we equate with the basic staccato stroke: all attack up front and nothing else. I think of the "C" or "K" sound as the sound of the martelé or hammered stroke: a hard attack sound with a whoosh of air that follows. The "P" ("puh") sound is a softer beginning to the note with some whispering air afterwards. I think of the "M" sound as a gentle détaché stroke.

I entice students to imitate various consonant sounds on Perpetual Motion and then to find places in the repertoire to use these various sounds. For example, the first movement of the Vivaldi A Minor Concerto in Suzuki violin book 4 provides opportunities for many different "consonant" bow strokes. In the opening passage the student could use the advanced "P" bow stroke, which sounds like a gentler martelé without the strong hammered attack. Later the student might employ staccato notes or the "T" sound.

Figuring out how to execute a bow stroke that imitates various consonant sounds helps to build up focus and concentration. It is not an easy task, but it is an engaging one.

Give it a try this week.