Sunday, April 14, 2013

Suzuki Memories...

Haley and I were looking for something under my bed the other day and came upon her first violin scrapbook. Haley took a picture of this picture with her iPad and sent it to me. It is Haley at her very first violin concert when she was 3 years old. She and three other 3-4 year olds in her group class got up on stage, bowed, sang a "Up Like a Rocket" and something else, bowed again, and walked off stage.

I love the Suzuki start to violin. I love the way the children learn everything through games and skills are broken down into easily accomplished components depending on the child's needs. I love the way the children, even those who have not yet learned a song and maybe just know how to bow correctly (violin in rest position, feet together, look at your shoes, down 1-2-3, up, ta-da!!!) are encouraged to be in front of an "audience." The Suzuki approach worked perfectly for us. I read the books, followed the teacher's directions, was home enough to fit in practice multiple times during the day whenever Haley brought me her violin, and kept it fun for her.

Looking at this picture and the others in the scrapbook reminded me of all our time together practicing over the years. My niece is beginning her Suzuki "journey" and her mom sent me a note thanking me for giving her the Helping Parents Practice book by Ed Sprunger. I didn't really use the book much because I bought it after we already had a good practice routine but I found many of "our" games in there plus more.

I look back fondly on those little games... (here are a few)
-playing in various rooms in the house, in front of mirrors, or outside
-playing for different "audiences" from Lego people to Playmobile people to a line of stuffed animals
-flashcards for tunes and technique (pick one from each pile and do what's on them)
-"See if I can guess what you are working on"  (Haley secretly focuses on a technique while playing a piece and I have to guess what it is)
-laying on the floor to play
-playing different rhythms we made up
-play what I play (where I play a few notes on the piano and Haley played them back on her violin)
-using an abacus or small treats to "count" repetitions...Haley loved to "finish" the abacus in a week

When Haley started violin, I didn't have any expectations or plans. She had asked to learn to play and I thought music education was important for brain development. I figured she'd have her weekly lesson and group class, we'd practice every day during the week, and by the time she was a teen, she'd have a decent ability to play violin. I had no idea how much she'd love playing and how integral a part of our lives music would be.

Sometimes, I joke about running the other way if I'd have known but seriously that is just a joke, though it is not easy keeping up with a child who loves what they are doing. I know it is the same for parents of any child doing something at an advanced level whether it is academics, sports, music, etc... The costs, driving time, sacrifice of personal time and things, finding appropriate opportunities, and trying to balance all that with the needs of other family members often feels like a tight rope walk or juggling act.

But it is all worth it when you see that same smile on the face of your 10 year old having fun doing what she loves to do whether she is on a huge stage or fiddling around in a corner of a room with her friends at a small session.

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