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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Studio Focus: More Listening!

Listen and Learn
Are you listening?
This month I want to sharpen our focus on the listening component of the Suzuki Method. After all, the most important foundational principle of Dr. Suzuki's Talent Education program is that we learn our Mother Tongue by listening. We are not handed reading and grammar language books upon birth and taught to read our language before we speak it. Instead, we are surrounded in our environment with the sounds of our native mother tongue language, and most of us learned to speak naturally through this exposure. Some of us have even ventured to live for short periods of time in other cultures and countries, and we have also experienced the excitement of learning to speak a new or second language in the same natural manner.

As a teacher I have frequently amazed some of my studio parents when I am able to detect a slight deviation in the home listening program. This deviation seems very simple for me to identify: the child struggles to recall how a song goes, the student cannot seem to remember the songs learned previously, the child is unable to figure out the next notes, there are memory slips, there are wrong notes and rhythms, etc. Even skipping on a listening program by one or two days will be enough to show up in the student's lesson. I see the student's level of confidence diminishing overall. The student hesitates to play during the lesson. Behavior issues begin popping up where they previously did not exist.

As a professional, I have put this listening component to good use personally. I have tried all of the things that I recommend to my students and their parent partners. I make it a habit of never asking my students to do something that I do not also do myself. So, therefore, I follow the same listening program that I ask my students to follow. I have also noted the benefits that come to me as a result of following a consistent program.

So this month, let us turn our attention to how the listening component works in our studios and our home environments. Let us make sure that we are paying good attention to the most important (in my opinion) aspect of Dr. Suzuki's ability development program. Let us focus on our listening program.

This week, make a note of what listening program you currently have running in the home environment. Are you listening daily? Wait, let us back up a second and determine whether we even have the ability to do any listening:
  • Is your listening equipment in working order?
  • Do you have the capability of listening to the repertoire that you are studying? Is your iPod or iPhone or other listening device in good repair?
  • Do you have the recordings available to you? Have you downloaded the recordings from iTunes or uploaded them to your iPod or iPad or other listening device? Have you set up the playlists that you need to set up a successful listening program?
  • If you have set up what and how you will listen, does it need some updating? Is your program current or are you stuck listening to the same thing that you have listened to a year ago? Is there something new that should go on your playlist? Are you forgetting to listen to something that you have learned before but have not visited in a long time?
  • Have you identified when you will do your listening? Is it in the car? Mealtimes? Before bedtime or upon arising? 
Let us start with the answers to those questions, and then in future articles we will look at other aspects of a good listening program.

Until next time,

Happy Practicing!

----- Paula -----

© 2016 by Paula E. Bird

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