One technique for enhancing practicing is watching a video before practicing. It’s a fun way to begin, and lets the child mentally prepare for practicing. Watching a video of a great performer models good technique and musicality as well as the real world requirements of performing. With the advent of YouTube, getting ahold of high quality videos is easy.
When watching a video, first simply observe. Afterwards, take turns saying what you enjoyed about the performance. Simple observations like “he had a beautiful sound” or “she played really fast” are good. As students become more adept at observing, they may make more advanced observations pertaining to phrasing, bow distribution, etc.
Watch again and try to discover what the performer is doing to accomplish what you heard or saw. For example, could his beautiful tone be due to a straight bow, or a rounded bow hand? Could her speed be because she knows exactly what finger is going next? Both parent and child should say how they think it’s working.
Focus on one technique you observed in the performer, and organize the practice around that. Best if it’s a small, well‐defined goal‐if your child noticed the performer’s intonation; don’t make the goal “play in tune”. Instead, focus on remembering to play C versus C#, or keeping threes right on top of the tape. IT can be useful to think of the Sesame Street format‐This practice was brought to you by careful 3s and smooth slurs!
- Shannon Jansma, published in the March 2016 issue of the Ann Arbor Suzuki Institute newsletter