Studio IV

Violin and viola instruction in Brooklyn, NY.

Studio IV is the violin and viola teaching studio of Erin Ellis in Brooklyn, NY.

The Importance of Review

Growing up, I was the queen of starting projects and never finishing them. Art projects, music projects, sewing projects, cleaning projects (especially cleaning projects); you name it, I started it. Somehow I got away with this, even in my violin lessons, until college. (If any of my former teachers are reading this I am so sorry! I can see that I must have been a frustrating student!) Now the beauty of learning music is you’re never really finished, but what I’m getting at here is learning all the notes in each movement in a musical way.

I didn’t grow up as a Suzuki kid. While I thoroughly enjoyed the way I studied violin, as a member of the community now I sometimes find myself getting a bit jealous of the teachers who grew up in Suzuki studios. They have this common body of repertoire that seems to magically come back to them when we are all playing together in our teaching seminars. Obviously there’s nothing magic about it – these musicians studied the pieces just like anyone else would. However, given the importance of review pieces in the Suzuki methodology, these pieces stay fresh in their minds; as life goes on, you grow as a musician and person, and you bring new knowledge and life experience to music you previously learned, and play it in different ways. I’m slowly but surely catching up on the repertoire, and enjoying my teaching courses more and more as I integrate into this community.

As I progress through my Suzuki registered teaching courses, I’m excited by the way I am improving my ability to memorize. Working through pieces in small bits really helps me memorize them, just as it helps my students to memorize their pieces. I’m setting a better example now that I’m really practicing what I preach. Each week I add another Suzuki piece, choose a few review pieces from previous books studied, and go back and work on finishing pieces I studied as a teen. I’ve delighted in reading notes from teachers with whom I studied, remembering important points I gathered from all of them. Not only does the review bring me back to lessons on technique and music, but memories from many different times in my life. It’s also been fun thinking about things my teachers have said in the past that perhaps didn’t make as much sense to me then as they do now, given the context and my aggregate experience. It’s a fun trip down memory lane

In the past two years, I’ve finished 2 quilts, memorized Suzuki Books 1-3 (and am making good progress on Book 4), and completed my first full Bach Sonata.  I’m so excited to experience the joy of really learning a piece; having it fully in your memory allows you to truly experience the music as you play, and brings a depth to the music that I feel very fortunate to play. That closet cleaning project of mine may never be finished, and that’s OK with me.  This year, I’ll concentrate on the music!

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