Friday, January 18, 2013

Teaching methods and styles

When searching for a music teacher for yourself or your child , its good to consider what type of learning method you'd like to start off with. The difference in methods in just violin tuition alone is so wide , that I'd go as far as saying that no two teachers are the same; and even in my case , I change my approach with each student , sometimes combining information from 2 methods in order to get the message across , or choosing to avoid some aspects of a method all together , depending on the student's learning capabilities , learning style and learning needs.
As a basic guideline , there are 3 main methods practised , they all differ in their philosophy , technique and parental assistance. Here they are:

Traditional Method: "The Art of Playing on the Violin" by Francesco Geminiani came out in 1751 and is believed to be one of the first violin instruction books. In the book, Geminiani covered basic violin playing skills such as scales, fingering and bowing. The method recommends the child must be at least 5 years old before taking music lessons. Students are encouraged to work alone on their skill and there may or may not be group activities. Unlike the Suzuki Method which emphasizes rote learning, the Traditional Method stresses note reading. Lessons begin with simple tunes, folk songs and etudes. Like the Kodaly method, parents play a passive role, often their presence in the classroom is not an integral part of the learning environment. It is the teacher who plays the primary role as educator.

Kodaly Method: Although the method wasn't exactly invented by Zoltan Kodaly, there is no doubt it developed under his guidance during the 1940's and 50's. Zoltan Kodaly was born in Hungary and learned how to play the violin, piano and cello without formal schooling. He gained critical praise for his works, especially music that was meant for children. The philosophy is that , music education is most effective when started early and that everyone is capable of musical literacy. Singing is stressed as the foundation for musicianship and the use of folk and composed music of high artistic value. Students listen to native folk songs that will expand to the great music of other countries and cultures as the lessons progresses. They will play musical instruments, sing and dance from memory as they achieve mastery of musical skills. Children will learn how to read music and compose. Some of the tools used in the Kodaly Method are the sol-fa, hand signals and rhythmic duration syllables. The parent takes a passive role, it is the music teacher who will be the primary instructor. The method is sequenced and structured, closely relating to a child's natural development.

Suzuki Method: The Suzuki method was developed by the accomplished Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki. He played for the Imperial Court of Japan and formed the Suzuki Quartet with his siblings , and then went on to start a music school and in 1964, the Suzuki method was introduced to the United States. The method was based on Suzuki's observation of children when he was in Germany. He observed that children are able to learn their mother tongue with no difficulty. He noted that children who are born in German households naturally learn to speak the German language. Children who are born in a Japanese household would naturally adapt their native language. He concluded that a child's environment greatly influences his/her development. Using the "Talent Education Movement," children start taking violin lessons by age 2 or 3. Suzuki students are first exposed to great classical recordings and music pieces that they will eventually learn. Background music will constantly be playing while children are at school to immerse them in music. The belief behind this is that children will learn to develop good musical ears, able to detect changes in pitch, timing, tone, etc. Students learn by observation, they often (but not always) learn as a group. Social interaction and cooperation is fostered among students. The Suzuki method stresses the importance of parental influence and involvement. Parents and teachers work together to achieve a common goal. Parents are expected to attend lessons and serve as teachers at home.

Its good to get recommendations from friend , local schools and teachers to see which system would suit you best as a beginner.

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