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Monday, June 13, 2011

Listening Like a Maniac

Dr. Suzuki was very specific that simply listening to a piece a few times is not sufficient if the goal is to learn that piece by heart. Often I will see a student get stuck while attempting to play a piece in a lesson. When this happens my first question is, "how often do you listen to this piece." Occasionally the student or parent bows his or her head and confesses that the CD has been missing for three weeks. More often the parent shrugs and says something like, "we listen to the CD every day while we're getting ready for school." The fact is sometimes listening once a day is not nearly enough. Etude from Book 1 is a case in point. Playing that piece is like navigating a complex maze, because the form of it is not so clearly defined as in previous pieces. The more one listens, the more detailed and useful the mental map with which one can navigate that maze.

Suzuki Guitar Teacher and Suzuki Violin Mother, Michelle Horner, described in a video for the recent online Parents as Partners seminar on the SAA website, the system for listening that she and her daughter have come to use in their home. Both parent and child had been frustrated by what they viewed as relatively slow progress, despite practicing and listening every day as they were supposed to do. So they decided to begin listening like maniacs. This meant:
  • Listening to the current working piece 10 times in a row
  • Listening to the next piece 10 times in a row
  • Listening to the piece after that 10 times in a row
They saw almost immediate improvement in the rate of progress, and in the overall level of playing. Horner explains that they have continued to listen like maniacs over the years, and that she encourages her guitar families to do the same, with great success.

Try it in your home. Do you notice a change in the quality of playing or in the quality of practice?

1 comment:

  1. I was lucky enough to attend a workshop by M. Horner for guitar parents at NIU in Decalb IL and that is an accurate portrayal of her message. It is easier implimented with an MP3 player. I have reduced the repitition to 5 and mixed my 3 students music on the same playlist. We begin all our car trips that way and many breakfasts.