Over this past month and since we have begun the Hispanic Heritage Month Practice-a-thon, I have been introducing my students to the three stages of polishing.  Please take the time to discuss them with your budding musician.  Learning is a process and I believe that it is very helpful to plot a logical course and set clear expectations.  Each student’s progress is unique and I discourage both parents and students from comparing students based on where they are in the Suzuki books.  Listen and look for beautiful tone quality, posture, bow holds, and memory and doll out compliments to your violinist and especially to another child!  One of my favorite hand outs is this sheet that lists 100 Ways to say “Very Good”.  I challenge each parent and child to increase their praise vocabulary. 

Stage 1 – Memorization!

Memory begins with listening.  Ideally, the child listening regularly already has the tune learned by heart.  Notes, tempos, and bowings are all internalized. 

Stage 2 – Dynamics!

Life would be so boring without them…imagine!  Once the student has completed the memorization stage, it is important to color the music.  Composers give indications in our music to play loudly, softly, and to make special accents with the bow which we call articulation.  We also learn to feel when and where a change in dynamic is needed and can make the music our own.  The only hard and fast rule when it comes to dynamics and articulation is THEY HAVE TO BE THERE! 

Stage 3 – Superb!

My favorite performers always deliver a beautifully choreographed and colorful performance played by heart.  What brings tears to my eyes and makes the hair stand up on my arms is when I feel they have also shared a piece of themselves.  Another element to an exceptional performance is ease in playing.  We strive to prepare ourselves so that the experience is pure joy for both the performer and the audience receiving the gift.  My happiest moments as a teacher are to hear a student perform Twinkle with qualities that can be defined by the word SUPERB. 

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