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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ideas for Practicing Reviews

As we know, practicing review repertoire is an integral part of the Suzuki experience, but it can sometimes be a frustrating part of practice. Here are some ideas for keeping reviews engaging and challenging (and avoiding the dreaded 'autopilot'):

1. Roll dice to decide which pieces to play
2. Leave out all the F#'s (for example)
3. Alternate singing and playing phrases
4. Have your child teach the piece to you (make obvious mistakes for her to correct)
5. "Red Light, Green Light" - child must stop when parent says "Red Light" and on "green light" continue from exactly the same place. (At first, be sure to stop him in a logical place. Later it can be more challenging. Also, later consider adding a "yellow light" where he must continue at a much slower tempo).
6. Student can't play the next note until you clap (this is very useful to quell a rushing habit in Etude or Perpetual Motion for instance - but it's really difficult. The child should know the piece very well first).
7. Play the phrases out of order (a la Lightly Row "Fruit Salad")
8. Focus on a technical skill, and come up with a challenge that addresses that skill (e.g. hold something gently under the neck of the cello w/ left thumb and play the piece without squeezing it).
9. Play with opposite bowings, then with correct bowings.
10. Play with a metronome. For advanced students working on older reviews, you can have them play with the metronome on the offbeats.
11. Hold the bow backwards (w tip where frog would be and vice versa. Great for developing tone-production).
12. A student proficient in thumb position can try to play pieces up an octave.
13. Transpose to different keys by ear (must be level-appropriate. Your teacher can make suggestions if you're not sure).
14. Replace A's, D's, G's and C's with the corresponding harmonics.
15. Play the open strings without the left hand.
16. Ask the child to evaluate the performance. Have her identify one thing that she felt she did very well, and one thing she thinks she can work on to make the piece even better.

What to work on in review practice:
1. Posture and position (it's not enough to learn the bow hold once. It must be reinforced continually).
2. Tone
3. Intonation
4. Dynamics, phrase shapes
5. Bow distribution
6. Articulation
7. Vibrato (if appropriate)
8. Teaching points for that piece
9. Performance skills, stage presence, movement
10. Memory
11. Pulse and rhythm
12. Whatever particular skill had been the focus of the previous lesson

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