Hello West County Strings students and families!
As this second week of our Summer ’20 Semester has gone by, I’ve been struck in every single students’ lesson by just how fast the lesson time flies by. I always arrive at the end of each lesson feeling like there was so much more I still wanted to get to, but I think this is good in several ways:
- It means that we’re learning, progressing, and charting new territory every lesson. In many, many lessons this week, a student has demonstrated progress that has literally “made my week!”
- It keeps the lesson fast-paced, energetic, and with a sense of anticipation for what’s yet to come, and…
- It forces me to really think through what’s most crucial for each student to get to in each week’s lesson, knowing that we can’t possibly cover literally everything I might want to get to each week.
All that said, I think there’s a few things that we can do to make sure that we’re making the most of our time together in lessons each week:
- Sign into Zoom a few minutes before your scheduled lesson time, and have your instrument and materials ready to go right at your scheduled start time.
- Have your instrument tuned to the best of your ability before your lesson. I know several of you are in the stages of learning to tune – and making tons of progress as self-tuners as a result of this quarantine – and we can certainly check your tuning together. But in general, tuning ahead of time will buy us a lot of time.
- LISTEN to your Suzuki CDs or other non-Suzuki recordings as applicable as much as possible throughout the week. The more the pitches, rhythms, dynamics, mood, and tone of a piece are internalized through listening, the less we have to slowly chip away at learning in lessons and the more we can work on how to produce the things you’ve internalized through listening.
- And this one goes without saying, but practice, practice, practice! I was struck this week by a quote from Dr. Suzuki found in the beginning of Suzuki Violin Book 3: a
“I consider the following practices and conditions to be the basis of achievement in people who excel: (1) to study daily without exception; (2) to study with proper focus on key points, and not to practice wastefully; (3) to strive daily to produce excellent tone; (4) to attend to one’s posture with proper care; (5) to practice daily according to a set schedule, and to gradually increase one’s practice time; (6) to practice pieces already learned so as to continually improve one’s performance. This is one effective method to cultivate ability; (7) not to rush ahead but to dedicate oneself to attaining excellent tone; (8) To be able to play any piece well, no matter how long ago one has learned it; and (9) to listen frequently to superior models.”
As I write those things out, it strikes me that they deserve their own post, or posts. So, I’ll plan to break those down in more detail in future updates, because there’s so, so much wisdom in those principles.
Suffice it to say for now that there’s plenty to do, and it feels good to be doing so much with each and every student. So, keep up the listening, keep up the practicing, keep up the good work, and we’ll see you again next week!