Thursday, March 22, 2012

All Ears

Notes from Parents as Partners videos "Listening" presented by Edward Kreitman.

One of the most misunderstood aspects of the Suzuki Method is listening.

Three types of listening:

Passive Listening - The CD of music being learned by the student is played over and over, every day. It is played in the background at meals, playtime, in the car, at bedtime, etc. The child will learn the tunes, learn about good tone of their instrument, and good intonation. The music becomes internalized. When they can sing the tune, they are ready to learn to play it. They don't necessarily have to be able to sing in tune, but should know pitch direction and pulse.

Parallel Listening - Sometimes listen to the CD several books ahead of where the student is. Hearing where they are going is encouraging and motivating to the student and parent. It builds a vision. Listen to any other music as well - all styles are beneficial.

Active or Targeted Listening - Within a lesson or practice time, a student is asked to listen for a particular thing in the music - slurs, form, articulation, etc.

Three ways to learn music:
Rote - by being told fingerings, one note at a time, and memorizing them.
Reading - requires skills the very young are not yet ready for
Listening - by EXPERIENCING the music through the senses, it becomes internalized

Learning through listening broken down into steps:
Be able to tell if pitches are the same or different.
Able to tell higher, lower, or same pitch
Internalize the song
Understand the logic of the instrument (piano - keys go lower to higher left to right, string instruments - four strings, next highest to next lowest within one string, moving string to string)
Gain the technical skill for playing the instrument
Train the ear

Suzuki repertoire was designed with learning by ear in mind - early songs use steps and skips:
Twinkle uses a descending scale, Lightly Row goes up the scale and up the chord, the rhythm requires careful listening. Song of the Wind has more steps and skips and a spot with a technical challenge. Don't talk about the number of times a note is repeated - the SONG tells you when to change - the internal version gained by listening.

In practice time with the parent, the child at book one level reviews previous pieces (15 - 20 minutes), works on the current piece (5- 10 minutes), and then the parent can leave the child to spend no more than about five minutes exploring and finding the notes for their next piece, based on the internalized music. If they get stuck you can give them just the next finger. No need to spoon feed the music. If they have figured out the notes in advance, then the working piece can be about how to play it, not just getting the notes.

The Listening Loop while playing the instrument: Concept - Actions - Sound - Ear - Brain - Analyze - Continue or Adjust. This happens several times a second.

Many students don't listen to themselves play and miss out on the loop! You may have to remind them that everyone else is listening - they need to, too!

Edward Kreitman's books: Teaching from the Balance Point, and Teaching with an Open Heart.

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