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Saturday, January 5, 2013

How to Get Started After a Break

Written by Paula E. Bird ©2013
We have just finished a holiday break and school resumes for most of us in a few days. There may be some families out there whose holidays got the best of them and are now trying to figure out how to get started with a good practice routine.

I wrote an article about this about 5 months ago. If you missed that article the first time around, here is the link: How to Get Started After a Break.

I recommend that you start with a solid review of Twinkles and make sure that all the teaching points are still in place. Twinkles take 3.5 to 5 minutes to play through (with introductions to each variation). That amount of time requires a good deal of concentration and focus. Your child might begin to crater about Variation C if he has lost some of his practice concentration. Do not panic, as this focus will grow quickly over the span of a few days. Plan to use Twinkles as your first plan of attack to build focus and to awaken the ear, the muscles, and the musicianship.

If your child is in a book other than book 1, plan to review Twinkles plus the first song of the book the child studies.The first songs in each of the Suzuki books are a great way to help the child regain memory and confidence, as these songs are generally not as difficult as the last song in the previous book. La Folia may be the exception to that statement, but like a review of the Twinkle variations, I believe that La Folia is like a Twinkle review for an advanced student.

By this point, your child has been listening to the recordings a few days and is probably ready to work his way through the books to where he was before the break.

The task of getting started may seem insurmountable at first, probably due to the powerful pull of inertia to stay in the same state of being on break. Go open that violin case right now, rosin the bow, tune things up, and then leave the case open. Pretty soon the violin's siren call will pull you out of the inertia minefield. Start small and keep your practice sessions shorter for the first few days. Then add 5-10 minutes until you finally reach the place where you were before the break.

Happy Practicing!


  1. That seems like good advice. In our house, I feel that winter break provides the best possible practice opportunity. Music is our only activity. Despite this, our time at home in the evenings during the regular work/school year is limited to just a few hours; we actually spend a lot of time traveling to and from our music school, leaving the house early in the morning and returning at night. During winter break, we have all day to practice. The kids have better focus and I have more patience. I do miss our classes though!

    1. I agree with you, that it seems better to keep up a schedule during the holidays. Children really like routine, so when parents deviate from the usual pattern, children lose their focus, the time in the day seems to drift and dissipate, and progress halts. So much could be kept up just by practicing a little bit daily and doing the listening. Even if parents did a review program only throughout the break, the parents would notice a really good return for the time invested. I think though that holidays and vacations just demand too much of our attention. So, I will be hearing a lot of Twinkles next week.

  2. Although we are not students anymore Paula, your Suzuki child/student is now 23, this can apply across the board to getting back into the "routine" again after the holiday's. Whether it is violin practice, eating right, an exercise routine, this blog post reminds me that small steps will keep us moving forward.

    1. You're right, Ana! Give my love to our Suzuki boy! See you soon.