Saturday, June 21, 2008

Review groups

The best thing happened at Fiona's lesson a couple of weeks ago: she was given a sheet of paper listing all the pieces she knows, divided up into six Review Groups. The idea was that she would play one group each day when she practised, as preparation for the Suzuki Valhalla Institute she'll be attending in August.

When Erin was a young violinist, I used all sorts of creative lists, charts, games and gimmicks to spice up practicing. I didn't realize how far I'd strayed from that style until Fiona was given this single rather ordinary list by her grandma. She was absolutely thrilled having experienced nothing of the sort in recent memory.

She loves her review groups, even Group 2, which made her cry the first time she played it. (Dare I confess how long it had been since we'd reviewed Minuet 2, Gavotte from Mignon and Hunters' Chorus? I honestly don't think she'd played one or two of those since getting her new violin in January.) But even if she was mad about the bowing corrections and the reminders to count repetitions of motifs, she could soldier through the piece by ear, and by the second time through things were tripping along just fine. And she's now rollicking along in the third cycle through the review groups, revelling in the fact that she has thirty-three pieces in her Suzuki review repertoire, thirty-three pieces that she can play well, thirty-three places to try out vibrato.

The thing I like the most about practising with Fiona is how much she cares to utilize the guidance she's given. She really thinks hard about the little things that are mentioned to her. This is apparent when I mention a small correction in form. She will continue to attend to a little posture point all the way through to the end of a piece, often spontaneously applying it to other pieces without any further mention. And it's apparent from the comments she sometimes blurts out at the end of a piece. While my other kids would finish Musette and then blurt out things like "I want a nectarine when I'm done" or "do we have soccer tomorrow?" Fiona will say stuff like "I've noticed that the really hard part of a bowhold is having a strong thumb, but keeping the fingers on the top relaxed."

I had the other three children first ... and so I guess I was owed one like this.


  1. Anonymous12:23 pm

    lovely bow hold!


  2. Anonymous12:39 pm

    Hi, I have been reading your blogs for a while and wanted to say what an inspiration they are to me. I am not a unschooler or indeed even a homeschooler but I am a Suzuki parent who till 18 months ago didn't know one end of the violin from another.

    This post was super hysterical to me today. First my 7 year old DS laid on the floor and cried for 30 mins that violin practice is too boring/hard etc then proceeded to practice really well once he got it out of his system. Played through perpetual motion with the doubles and did quite well and then put the violin down and said "Green skittles are the only skittles that taste good...i want to keep them away from the other ones." WHAT??
    It was a treat to hear you have kids like this too!
    Mom from Dallas

  3. It's amazing how different kids like different stuff. There's just something inside them.

  4. My DD begged for a violin for years when she was little. We finally got her one but there are no teachers around so her violin gets little use. I keep hoping that some day it will be used.


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