Saturday, July 21, 2007

So Long, Suzuki Book 3

You have to hand it to Benny, he doesn't grow moss on his violin. Here we are a little over six months after his Book 2 graduation, and he's done with Book 3 already. People ask me sometimes how I get him to practice. Those who have been in the house with us know that he will happily play the violin all day long. The question is how to get him to practice correctly. We all know he can memorize songs quickly and learn all the notes. But how do we get his playing technique to measure up to his ability to digest and deliver the music?

In the weeks leading up to Benny's graduation recital from Suzuki Book 3, his teacher, the gifted and glamorous Mrs. Ford, had one goal and one goal only. And that was to get him to correct his bow hold. His thumb, it was concave when it should be convex. His pinky, it was falling over the bow when it should be perched on top. His fingers, they were pinching the stick when they should have been draped around it. It was a mess.

Now, how does this happen? Was he not trained to hold his bow correctly? Of course he was. But there's alway something sliding off the bus, as you're scurrying to secure the rest of the load. A few months ago, we were worried about the fingers on his violin hand -- they were too flat. Now the bow hold. Next it'll be something else slipping toward the edge. You have to keep on top of these things.

That's why in the Suzuki method, it's not okay to just listen to the child practice from the other room. You have to be in there with them, pointing things out, encouraging, correcting, monitoring. Does this always endear you to the young snipe who would rather go romping along at top speed missing half the notes? Not especially. But it does mean that after weeks of work, he does have a proper bow hold for his graduation recital. Thanks to his hard work, his teacher's perseverance, and my watchful eye. ;)

Here are some pictures from the event. There was a pirate theme to the reception that followed the recital, and no he did not play the violin dressed as a pirate. I was trying to be respectful of the other children that were also graduating, and had been warned against turning it into a circus. What's wrong with the circus? Hehehe.

The moms set up the party table as the kids have their "Play In" before the recital.

Benny playing one of his pieces.

Benny receiving his graduation certificate.

Pirate violinist and his little sister Sadie Grace.

Now we are on to Book 4 with a new teacher and a new appreciation for double stops. Look out, Vivaldi!