The other day Bookworm Girl commented that the “most advanced” student in her group class is this one girl who is actually two books behind all the others. But this girl plays beautifully, with great attention to detail, gorgeous tone, perfect posture, and wonderful musical expression.
The thing is, if you simply judge by “which piece,” it’s actually Bookworm Girl herself who is the “most advanced” in the group. I am so impressed by my daughter’s humble and generous spirit, not to mention how she gets it that it doesn’t matter how fast you progress through the books, and that it’s better to play a simple piece beautifully than a hard one sloppily.
Bouncy Boy, on the other hand, doesn’t get it at all! He is always talking about where he is in relation to his group, and wanting to be the farthest along and so forth. That’s okay, though. I know he’ll get over it eventually. I didn’t start out with BG’s attitude either. :-)
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Bouncy Boy’s practice sessions have been going very well lately. We had one setback, a couple of weeks ago. He was sick for two days and didn’t practice — literally the first days he missed since he started lessons in September — and it took another day or so for him to get back in the groove. I have to be super consistent with him. We practice at the same time (to the minute!) every day and if there is going to be any change in the routine I have to tell him well in advance. As long as I am that careful, he does great.
A while back I said that the magic number for Bouncy Boy is three. If I ask him to do any more than three repetitions he melts down. It’s funny because in the course of a single practice session he often ends up doing five or ten or even more reps, and he can do it just fine. I just can’t ask him to do that much at once. I have to break it down into tiny pieces so that he doesn’t realize what he’s doing. This is very true to the Suzuki philosophy, by the way. One of my favorite Suzuki quotes is: “if at first you don’t succeed, never do it again.” Eh??? What that means, though, is if you ask a child to do something and it turns out they can’t do it, don’t keep asking. Instead, break it down into smaller steps. That way, not only will they get it, but they’ll feel a sense of accomplishment instead of frustration.
In that spirit, I have now decided that the magic number is one, not three. I give him just one tiny task, for example, to play one Twinkle while keeping his scroll up the entire time. If the notes or bowings are wrong, so be it. All he has to do is keep that scroll up. One time. But if the scroll doesn’t stay up, it doesn’t count. Then the next task might be to play that same Twinkle with all correct bowings. If he doesn’t keep the scroll up, so be it. And voilà! He has now played Twinkle twice! Best of all, he almost always succeeds on the first try. His focus is increasing daily, he’s making good progress, and he is so proud of himself.
This Suzuki thing. It’s so good for what ails you.