Practice video: Review Games

How can you keep music practice interesting

Welcome to Practice Corner! We’ve talked all about why review is so important to build our repertoire… but how do you keep it fun and engaging? This week we’ll go over some creative ways to use review games to keep practice interesting.

Watch live (and ask questions)! Tune in every other Monday evening at ESMA’s Facebook Page for new Practice Corners. You can also share your own tips and questions.

If you can’t tune in to the broadcast, no worries. You can find our Practice Corner videos on the new ESMA YouTube Channel, and at the Practice Corner section of the ESMA website.

How do you keep review interesting and engaging?

Practice video: The importance of review

Why are review songs important?

Join Jodie for a discussion of the importance of review. Review is such a large part of the Suzuki philosophy, and it can make a difference in the success of the child.

Watch live (and ask questions)! Tune in every other Monday evening at ESMA’s Facebook Page for new Practice Corners. You can also share your own tips and questions.

If you can’t tune in to the broadcast, no worries. You can find our Practice Corner videos on the new ESMA YouTube Channel, and at the Practice Corner section of the ESMA website.

What are your tips and tricks for review songs?

Practice video: The Odd and Even Game

How can you work on endings or tricky spots in a practice piece? Are you looking for a way to diffuse conflicts or add some fun? Get out your dice and play the Odd and Even Game with Jodie!

This video is our first foray into doing practice videos on Facebook (we’ll also be rolling these out to YouTube in the coming weeks).

Watch live (and ask questions)! Tune in every other Monday evening at ESMA’s Facebook Page for new Practice Corners. You can also share your own tips and questions.

If you can’t tune in to the broadcast, no worries. You can find our Practice Corner videos on the new ESMA YouTube Channel, and at the Practice Corner section of the ESMA website.

How are you using dice in your practice?

Pick a practice word

Image: Jeff Djevdet

A challenge of ongoing practice is keeping everyone focused and motivated. Kids and circumstances change. With so much happening, it can be hard to keep your practice focused and relevant to your child’s skills and development, while also setting up your child for further learning, growth, and success.

A word of the year

For one of our ESMA families, Amber Riggs picks a “word of the year.” Amber uses this word to guide her 4 children in practice, education, and other parts of their lives. Here’s what Amber has to say about how having a word of the year has helped her family:

“As a homeschool mom, I’m always looking for ways to keep my kids (ages 8, 6, 4, and 1) motivated. Last year they said that they really wanted a trophy. I liked the idea of being able to earn a trophy for something other than athletic accomplishments, but I really liked the idea of making it something meaningful that they had to work hard for. Therefore, a Diligence Trophy was promised to kids who demonstrated that they could “start fast, work hard, and finish strong,” and “Diligence” became our word of the year. That word helped us all through a lot of frustrating situations.

“This year’s word is “Perseverance”, and it is music to my ears to hear the chanting of ‘I am perseverant! I can do it—even when it’s tough!” Small rewards keep them saying it, but they know that if they can live it out this year then another trophy is coming. We sometimes reach points where we just don’t feel like pushing ourselves. It can be tough to finish that page of math! It can be hard work to get your fingers to go where they need to go on the violin! Not to mention being the parent trying to facilitate these activities! But that’s where all of that chanting pays off: “You are perseverant!” I tell them. “Yes”, they reply, “I can do it—even when it’s tough!”

How to pick a practice word

You can put this to work in your family too:

  1. Either you can pick a word, or you can make it something you choose together as a family.
  2. What is a challenge, skill, or value that you are working on with your kids?
  3. How does the word relate to you practice?

Your word doesn’t have to be for a whole year, either. Maybe it’s something you do for a month or a few months, depending on its effectiveness.

Ideas for potential practice words

Trying to think of what your practice word might be? Talk it over with your kids, and here are a few ideas to get you going:

  • Diligence
  • Perseverance
  • Try
  • Capable
  • Confident
  • Success
  • Strive
  • Nurture
  • Learning
  • Intuition
  • Cooperation
  • Inspire

What will be your family’s word?

An attainable New Year’s resolution

I resolve to [fill in the blank] for the new yar.

by Elizabeth Gergel

“To make a resolution and act accordingly is to live with hope. There may be difficulties and hardships, but not disappointment or despair if you follow the path steadily. Do not hurry. This is a fundamental rule. If you hurry and collapse or tumble down, nothing is achieved. Do not rest in your efforts; this is another fundamental rule. Without stopping, without haste, carefully taking a step at a time forward will surely get you there.” – Dr. Suzuki

The dawn of 2017 offers us the opportunity to have a fresh start and make resolutions that we hope to follow in the new year. Many of us will boldly make statements such as “I’m going to help my child to practice one hour every single day,” or “I vow to write in a journal every day of 2017.”

I encourage you to take a step back from such lofty goals. Let us take this opportunity to set attainable goals instead.

Perhaps the most important aspect of providing your child with music lessons is the gift of the playing of beautiful music. Remember to congratulate yourself each day for this—no matter whether you practiced for the intended 60 minutes… or the unintended zero minutes of practice.

An attainable goal for this year could be to listen to the Suzuki book recording more frequently.

Find ways to incorporate listening into your daily routine, whether it be while making dinner, bathtime, running errands, etc. There have been countless times in my teaching experience when I ask a student how many times she listened to the recording of her current book in the week leading up to the lesson, and I receive a less than desirable response. None. Once or twice.

Listening is perhaps the easiest and the best way for your child to learn their music.

As Dr. Suzuki emphasized in the quotation at the top of this Practice Corner, make a small, reasonable—and most importantly—attainable goal. This will do much more to further growth than far-reaching unrealistic goals. I also have to commit to listening to my repertoire more. It is easy to overlook creating the time and the space for listening. In our ever more hectic lives it becomes increasingly important to carve out a place for the activities that are more “quiet” and peaceful.

So this year, step back from the lofty and focus on the attainable. It’s a New Year’s resolution you can keep.

Image: BazaarBizarreSF

4 Holiday Tips for Guilt-Free Practice

It’s no secret that the holidays can be a challenging time for regular practice. School is out. Holiday activities pack the schedule. You might be traveling, or family and friends might be visiting from out of town. With so much happening during the holidays, how do you manage to fit in practice?

But there’s a crucial component that we need to address first: avoid guilt.

Sometimes a practice might get missed, or stress from the holidays might bleed over into practice. If this happens, forgive your child and forgive yourself. Above all, avoid guilt in both you and your child. Guilt saps motivation. Planning for practice and for practice breaks will help you avoid guilt and set you and your child up for success.

Practice is a meaningful quality time for parent and child. During the holidays, this can make practice a break from the hustle and bustle of the season. Not only will this help motivate your child, it will reinforce your motivation too.

Here are our 4 holidays tips to help you guilt-free practice:

1. Practice early in the day.

It can be harder to have a later practice than one earlier in the day. Usually,the further your day progresses, the more your practice time will have to compete with other activities. Try having practice closer to the start of the day, such as after breakfast. Then practice is done and you don’t have to worry about it slipping through the cracks. You and your child can also start the day with a feeling of success and accomplishment.

2. Set a minimum daily practice.

Just because the holidays are challenging, you can still set a good baseline. Set a minimum practice for your child (if they’re old enough, maybe they can negotiate this with you). A good minimum could be a current song plus one review song. Aim for more, of course, but on those days where time is tight and everyone feels rushed or squeezed, a simple minimum can still help make the difference between some practice and no practice. That regular practice will also set up your child for success and can make practice easier when that routine is maintained.

3. Make your Suzuki listening part of your day’s soundtrack.

In our house, we put on our Suzuki listening during breakfast. Incorporate your listening into a time that works well for you. It could be during a meal, as part of bedtime, or while traveling for an event, shopping, or a family visit. Having listening as a regular part of the day builds consistency, which can ease the rush of the holidays.

4. Agree in advance any practice breaks—and agree when practice will resume.

Yes, we aim to practice every day. But during the holidays, we also know we need some leeway.

If you’re traveling, agree in advance whether or not you’re taking your instrument. If you need to leave the instrument at home and take a practice break, accept that and don’t feel guilty. Also set when you will resume practice, so you and your child know in advance and can get back in to practice after your trip.

If you want to have Christmas or another time during the holidays be a practice break, discuss it with your child so everyone is on the same page. That will also make it easier to resume practice once the practice break is done.

There is so much happening during the holidays, but the joy of music and learning are another fun time that can be part anyone’s busy season. Use these tips to help you and your child work together on practice and listening, and that can help put more joy and less stress into your holidays.

Busking at Eugene Holiday Market, Dec. 10, 2016

ESMA busking at Holiday Market in 2011

Every winter, our local Eugene Saturday Market moves indoors to the Lane Events Center and becomes… Holiday Market! We like to take some time on a Saturday in December to play music for people at the market (also known as busking).

Join us on Sat., Dec. 10, 1–2 p.m., to play Suzuki songs and a few holiday tunes. Meet up with Jodie in the entry area of the Exhibit Hall. Any Violin or Cello student at any level is welcome to play.

All families, including Little Notes families, are welcome to stop by and enjoy the music. (After all, Little Notes families, someday your little note might be up there playing music too!)

Busking is a fun time for all of us. Playing music adds to the joy of the season. And any tips we receive from the public will go toward a pizza party for the studio!

See you Sat., Dec. 10, 1–2 p.m., at Holiday Market.

Bead chain practice challenge

Jodie is also earning beads for her 100 Day Practice Challenge!

Jodie is also earning beads for her 100 Day Practice Challenge!

ESMA’s 100 day practice challenge

Students aren’t the only ones who need regular practice—teachers need it too. I recently started a #100DayPracticeChallenge with some fellow Suzuki teachers. It’s simple: practice 100 days in a row.

And you know what? That’s something I’ve (surprisingly) never done.

As I was preparing for the challenge, I realized that it was something the entire studio could share. A practice challenge—whether it’s 7 days, 30 days, a 100 days, whatever—is a great way to encourage practice, inspire learning, and get back into a good practice groove after a break (such as summer or the holidays).

My whole studio is now counting up to 100 days of practice. Some students are doing 100 days in a row like I am, and other students are just counting each day they practice.

How do you keep track of practice? Bead chains!

Each participating student has their own bead chain hanging in the studio's welcome room

Each participating student has their own bead chain hanging in the studio’s welcome room.

To help each of us keep track of our practice progress, I’ve set up bead chains in the welcome room at the entrance to the studio. The chains are simple—just a length of string with a name tag at one end, and a loop tied at the other end for hanging on a small hook. (I’ve hung these pretty high so our Little Notes babies and toddlers can’t get them.)

When a student comes in for their weekly lesson, we go over how many days they practiced during the week since their previous lesson. At the beginning of their lesson, the student picks out their new beads.

Practice challenge bead jars and name tags

Practice challenge bead jars and name tags

For days 1-4 that they’ve practiced over the past week, they get a round bed. For days 5-7, they get special star beads. After we finish the lesson, the student strings on their new beads as they leave the studio for a new practice week.

What happens when I get to 100?

First, congratulate yourself! You made it. If you’ve been keeping notes, take time to look at the progress you made in 100 days. Or take a short video every 10 days of what you’ve been working on. Too often, we are putting in hard work and it’s hard to see the progress. Celebrating those successes can be a huge motivator.

For our studio, we’ll be celebrating our 100 days of practice with a party in April after Spring Break. There will be prizes for anyone who does 100 days in a row as well as for the first 5 students to reach 100.

If you haven’t started your practice challenge yet, let’s talk about it in your next lesson! As for me, I have a bead to earn—time to practice!

Suzuki Violin Festival in the Park, July 23, 2016

Summer violin fun! ESMA and other local Suzuki studios have put together a special Suzuki Violin Festival in the Park, sponsored by the Eugene Suzuki Strings Association. Join us on Saturday, July 23 10:00-11:30 at Washington Park (2025 Washington St., Eugene, OR 97405).

This festive event will feature playing violin together, fiddle tunes, prizes and ice cream! Details are below.

Please RSVP so we know how many people to plan for at this special occasion.

And also spread the word to other families who may be interested in this opportunity!

WHAT: Suzuki Violin Festival in the Park

WHERE: Washington Park, 2025 Washington St., Eugene. Meet by the water park.

WHEN: Saturday, July 23, 10–11:30 a.m.

BRING: Violins, Smiles, and $3 for Ice Cream

Fiddle Repertoire

We will be playing these 3 Fiddle Tunes, and here are PDFs of the music:

Please learn pieces as is appropriate to your level. Please use a harmonic for the high E if learning Stoney Lonesome. All repertoire will be played from memory.

Suzuki Repertoire

Use the repertoire list for the Northwest Suzuki Institute listed below. All repertoire will be played from memory.

Book I

  • Twinkles
  • Lightly Row
  • Song of the Wind
  • Go Tell Aunt Rhody
  • Allegro
  • Perpetual Motion
  • Minuet 1 (Bach)
  • Happy Farmer (Schumann)
  • Gavotte (Gossec)

Book II

  • Chorus (Handel)
  • Musette (Bach)
  • Hunters’ Chorus (Weber)
  • Witches’ Dance (Paganini)
  • The Two Grenadiers (Schumann)
  • Minuet (Boccherini)

Book III

  • Minuet (Bach)
  • Gavotte in g minor (Bach)
  • Humoresque (Dvorak)
  • Bourré (Bach)

Book IV

  • Concerto No. 2, 3rd mvmt. (Seitz)
  • Concerto No. 5, 1st mvmt. (Seitz)
  • Concerto in a minor, 3rd mvmt (Vivaldi)

Book V

  • Gavotte (Bach)
  • Country Dance (Weber)
  • Gigue (Veracini)

Book VI

  • Sonata in FM, 2nd mvmt. (Handel)
  • Allegro (Fiocco)
  • Gavotte (Rameau)


Contact me with questions, I am here to help and so excited to celebrate with you!

Summer Term Registrations

Something summery

Summer Term is ready for registration! Register for Summer Term with the forms below:

Violin Lessons Registration Summer 2016 (PDF)

Little Notes Registration Summer 2016 (PDF)

Payment for lessons and Little Notes is due July 10.

Summer Term 2016

Term Dates: June 28–Sept. 1

Summer Break: No lessons or classes June 19–27

Little Notes Class Schedule

  • Wednesdays, 9:30–10:30 a.m.
  • Wednesdays, 11:00 a.m.—12:00 p.m.
  • Thursdays, 10:15–11:15 a.m.
  • No Saturday classes during Summer Term. Summer classes resume Fall Term.

Violin Lessons

  • Students must register for at least 4 Summer Term lessons to remain enrolled at ESMA
  • Lessons available Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. No Violin Lessons on Mondays and Fridays.
  • No group classes during Summer Term. Group classes resume Fall Term.

If you have questions, please let me know during our next lesson or class. See you during Summer Term!

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