Foundational Principle #6 – Practice Your Review!

One of the things that makes the Suzuki Method unique, is that instead of primarily being a series of progressive exercises it is a series of progressive pieces of music.  Both approaches are similar in that if the exercises are taught correctly, they progressively develop good technique and ability in the student.  Where the two approaches differ is that learning a progressive series of pieces is inherently more fun for the vast, vast majority of students than learning a series of progressive exercises is (Dr. Suzuki was, after all, a big proponent of joy in students’ playing and their lives, and could almost always be found with a smile on his face).  And when all is said and done, the Suzuki student is left with a large catalogue of pieces they have learned which they can enjoy playing.

The problem is that, all too often, we fail to give review (the frequent, intentional replaying and restudying of the pieces we have already learned) its proper place of importance in our overall learning experience.  Instead of remaining pieces that are easily accessible at our fingertips, review pieces often become shelved in the furthest recesses of our mind that must be dredged up with great pain and difficulty.  This defeats the entire purpose of both being able to enjoy our review pieces, and to use them as the ideal platform on which to improve the quality of our playing.

A foreign language teacher once used this metaphor with my class once we had taken all the basic courses in the language and were on to more advanced translation and application.  He said, “Knowing a foreign language is like pushing a huge stone wheel (think of one taller than yourself).  Once you’ve got it rolling, it takes just the occasional little push to keep it moving.  But let it grind to a halt, and you will have to exert all the effort in the world to get it moving again.”

Maybe many of you reading this find yourself in the place where you know that your knowledge and facility with your review pieces has ground to that metaphorical halt.  One of the great opportunities that we’ve had this summer, as we’ve followed our weekly review charts is to get those juices flowing again – to get that stone creeping forward once more.  But don’t ever, ever let up!  Listening to your recordings (which will be the topic for a future week) and being a good student of your review are two of the single most important things you can do to be successful at learning your instrument, to enjoy playing your instrument, and to become a mature, accomplished musician.

So, here’s to review.  We’ll be going over some in your lessons this week!