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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Quick Teaching Tip: Review Lessons

I have committed to doing more review this year. Yes, as all Suzuki teachers do, I assign review pieces to be done. However, I find that sometimes the review is not done as I think it should be done. Either families get too busy and skimp on the review portion of the practice assignment, or the review gets rushed through and teaching points are no longer in place within the piece. So, here is my solution this fall, and so far it is working after just one try.

On the first lesson of the month, I review the entire Twinkles with the student. I play along. I catch slipped articulations, posture issues, and improper bowing style (legato versus staccato). I also add more music to the phrasing and suggest things that the student might add to increase the song's beauty.

On the 2nd lesson of the month, I review through the book the student is working on. If that is book 1, then I start with Lightly Row and go in consecutive order with each piece in the book until we reach the pieces that the student is working on. If there are any teaching points to be strengthened, I do that as we go. If the student has trouble remembering a particular piece, we work together to make that piece memorable again. That piece gets added to the next week's homework, and we pick up the review songs at the next lesson from that piece. If the student is in a later book, I will add the in between books at other lessons, but I will do them on a rotating basis.

I've only just begun this "lesson review," but already I have noticed a big improvement in the studio. As we play our review in lessons, I can also introduce the parents to the important new skills that I will be adding to these songs when the student reaches more advanced levels. In this way I can help parents to understand the importance of review. One mom last week in fact made this observation herself when she said, "Now I understand why we need to keep these pieces learned." I also point out to the parents and students what elements of each song came from something the student had learned in earlier songs. In this way everyone also sees the connections between earlier songs and later or newer ones.

I am interviewing two people about the issue of review, and I look forward to sharing these interviews and their review suggestions with you.

Happy Practicing and Reviewing!