Shinichi Suzuki on Video

Here are two short videos that show Shinichi Suzuki working with students. They offer a glimpse of the good humor and almost childlike joy for which Suzuki was known. In the first clip Suzuki demonstrates the students’ ability to stop and start at any point in the last movement of the Bach A minor Concerto (Suzuki Violin Book 7). The game he uses reinforces the idea that you really know a piece well if …

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The Mental Side of Violin Playing

[quote]Technique is conception.[/quote] -Zvi Zeitlin As we begin a new year of practicing, let’s consider the mental side of violin playing.  The concepts we hold in mind can be an important guide for sound, phrasing, musical style and other aspects of playing.  Technique should always serve the musical concept.  In many cases, starting with a musical concept can propel us over a technical hurdle. Think about your last practice session.  Did you …

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Suzuki's Tonalization

“Beautiful tone, beautiful heart.” “Tone has a living soul without form.” -Shinichi Suzuki Tonalization is “the ability to produce and recognize a beautiful, ringing tone.” Dr. Suzuki observed that singers cultivate their voices daily through “vocalization” exercises.  He believed that instrumentalists should approach tone in a similar way. Great musicians make their instruments “sing”, developing a concept of tone that is inspired by the natural expression of the human voice. Tonalization starts …

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Ten Tips For Learning New Repertoire

When it comes to learning a new piece, knowing how to practice correctly is essential.  Good practicing is about developing problem solving strategies, efficient use of time and constant evaluation.  Young Suzuki students depend on the parent to structure well disciplined practice sessions that will facilitate the mastery of a new piece.  As students approach the teenage years, they are able to work successfully on their own. Here are ten points that parents …

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Ten Tips For Practicing

The beginning of a new year is a great time to evaluate our practicing and to reaffirm our commitment to consistent, thoughtful practicing.  How we practice is as important as how much we practice.  Here are some tips to keep in mind: 1. Practice Every Day In some ways, practicing is like exercise.  If it’s sporadic you won’t see progress and you’ll be constantly frustrated.   When practicing becomes a part of your daily routine, …

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Suzuki's Vital Points

Dr. Suzuki listed ten Vital Points for violin playing.  He used these points to develop a weekly progress report that allowed students and parents to chart improvement over time.*  Suzuki’s emphasis on Vital Points suggests that the important question to ask is not “How quickly can I move from one piece to another?” but instead, “How beautifully can I play?”  Suzuki acknowledged that each student develops at their own pace.  He patiently enjoyed this process with the conviction that, given the correct environment, all students can learn.

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Test Your Practice Skills

Dr. Suzuki told his students: “Only practice on the days that you eat.”  This is good advice, but it’s also important to evaluate the quality of your practicing.  It’s not just about the hours you put in, but what you put in the hours!  Suzuki’s triangle (student, parent, teacher) gives parents the vital role of guiding their child’s practice sessions at home.  Practicing correctly helps students develop self discipline, perseverance, and an …

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