Is your child having difficulty in playing pieces by heart or learning to play by ear in the first place? It’s time to get into “Note Choosing!”
When I first started to teach, I thought that the Suzuki Method had everybody beat in terms of teaching these skills. However I soon had my fair share of students laboriously muttering the fingerings, while trying to perform and getting hopelessly confused in the process.
Well, that was before hearing Ed Kreitman on the subject. He teaches a method of “Note Choosing” that works directly through the senses rather than the intellect. First, he makes sure that a child (who listens every day to the repertoire at home) can tell if the second of a pair of notes is higher, lower or the same.
Then, while learning “Lightly Row,” the second piece in the Suzuki Violin Repertoire, he helps them to notice the difference between stepping up/down and jumping up/down an arpeggio. They can then look at “Lightly Row” in terms of: “start, jump down, same, step up, jump down, same.” This is done for every subsequent piece, till the child can choose the notes for herself.
Learning letter names and fingerings by heart has much less to do with the ability to make music and can be confusingly abstract for a small child. Just think of all the extra knowledge you have to teach to make it work—What finger? What string? A different formula for each piece.
“Note Choosing” works directly through the sense of hearing and leads directly to the ability to play by ear and by heart. Up, down, same? Just do what your ears tell you and you can apply it to playing any piece.
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