The Suzuki Piano School, Volume 1 is the perfect start for a pre-schooler or early primary student who has shown some interest and facility while "just plunking around the keyboard" at home. Students listen to the enclosed CD recording of each piece and learn them by rote repetition rather than reading the notation. In this fashion, they learn music the way we learn our native tongue. The Suzuki Method requires parents to be actively involved in every practice session, guiding their child to use the correct fingerings and reinforce key concepts. I work with parents and students on Suzuki training as part of my webcam lessons service, and the early development does amazing things for building neural connections in the brain that benfit the child for a lifetime. Pick up a copy here.
The Importance of Role-Modeling in Musical Instruction: Role models are an indispensible part of any music performance instruction. Having good role models, from students, to guests, to the teacher himself, is one of the most powerful tools for instruction in any kind of music learning scenario. Read more
Repertoire Selection - The Fluff Ratio Philosophy: When it comes to programming for a concert, I invented for my student teachers something I call the "Fluff Ratio" Theory. Summarized, the theory states "The percentage of a concert's repertoire that can be considered "fluff" is inversely proportional to the age and experience level of the student performers." Read more
It is possible for elemetary music students to perform professional-level pieces. Don't believe me? Check out this video. So the question, of course, is "how?"
In a recent blog article, Mark Burke of ViaAcademies discussed the importance of what happens in between music lessons - the reason that the amazing students in this Japanese video are able to achieve so much is that they receive guidance from an instructor at a very young age and virtually every time they pick up the instrument.
Another important part of this success is the notion that younger students are given the preparation time necessary to master more complex musical tasks. This brings into play what I refer to as a practice arc.
How Much Prep Time Do You REALLY Have?
Is it possible for an elementary student to play all twelve major scales on their instrument? Sure. They will need a longer period to develop those skills than older students. The more complex the motor skill demands, the longer the prep time necessary (for any age student). The more complex the polyphony, the more prep time is needed. The more tempo changes, dynamic layers, and other transitions are present, the more prep time is needed.
In many cases, especially in American culture, we are used to instant gratification and lose interest with things that "take too long." Music repertoire is no exception. For a student to understand and be able to perform deeper, more complex music, they must be nutured through the preparation process. In most cases, the amount of prep time we have to prepare a performance is more than sufficient, but we do not use the time effectively. If you can find ways of increasing your effectiveness (I've blogged about many practice tips) you can learn more complex music in a shorter amount of time.
Suggestions for Planning a Practice Arc
Here are some practical tips for planning a practice arc given the amount of prep time you have before a performance:
Until next time,
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