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Anyone else on Suzuki Book 1?
I want to finally finish this book!
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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Fidelestre
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July 29, 2015 - 6:53 am
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@RedViolin , Thanks for the link to the practice chart. It looks like you finished Suzuki book 1 quite quickly; what are you working on now besides reviewing the book 1 pieces? Have you started Suzuki book 2?

I'm in a somewhat similar position to you, having recently returned to fiddle after about 20 years away. Am using Suzuki book 1 as my main instructional resource, and I supplement it with various tunes that I just enjoy playing.

Of the early pieces, I'm finding Perpetual Motion the most challenging due to the introduction of 4th finger. Right now I can play all of the pieces through Allegro and am working on learning Perpetual Motion and Allegretto.

However, in June I started taking some violin lessons, and my teacher put me right back to Twinkle! With the teacher, I am only up through Song of the Wind. The earliest pieces are great for working on fundamental skills like bow hold, posture when bowing, and left hand position.

So my daily practice consists of working on the first few tunes very mindfully - thinking about whether I am holding the bow correctly, etc. Then I go through all of the pieces I know in Suzuki book 1 and work on the two that I'm currently learning on my own. Then I play some additional tunes for fun - that includes some pieces from the Mark O'Connor book 1, some from the Fiddlerman sheet music site, and some other fiddle tunes I found with relatively simple fingering compatible with early Suzuki. And I'm also learning the harmony accompaniments to the first few Suzuki pieces - that required me to skip ahead to 3rd finger high. It will probably be a while before I finish with Suzuki book 1, but that's okay. I'm having plenty of fun with Suzuki and with my supplemental pieces!

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RedViolin
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July 29, 2015 - 7:53 pm
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@Fidelestre the only pieces in Suzuki book 1 I hadn't learned as a child were the 3 Minuets, The Happy Farmer, and Gavotte. I did go back and practice/re-learn all of the other pieces, but didn't dwell too long on Twinkle etc. (as a self-learner I don't have to worry about what a teacher wants me to do, which I guess is both a blessing and a curse!) so I don't think I could say my progress was particularly "quick".

As a child, if memory serves me correctly, I never started to use the fourth finger. As all of the 4th fingers are optional in Suzuki up to Minuet 3 (which I never reached), I am pretty sure my teacher always got me to play them as open strings. For me, the sticking point was Etude (the first piece in the book in G major), as this was the first piece that really forced me to learn something different. I had no concept of how notes were formed or what a key was or a sharp was, etc.  dazed

So for me, finishing Suzuki book 1 was not a step towards continuing on in the Suzuki method necessarily, but a particular "challenge" to finish something I'd started many years ago. (To be honest, I can't remember how long I spent "learning" violin. I have a photo of myself at 12 with a violin, and I know I at least played for maybe one and a bit years of high school at 13/14, but I don't remember what age I started (possibly 11?) or officially gave up. Needless to say, not much was accomplished during this time! But it is somewhat embarrassing to see how little I learned over what must have been a relatively substantial timeframe...)

I'm still not good at the new pieces (hey, I'm still not good at the old pieces!) but I can at least muddle through them now. So I'm calling that Suzuki book 1 "finished", but, obviously I still need to do a lot more practice (hence the practice chart!) At the start of this year, I didn't think I could ever play through any semblance of Gavotte.

Like you, I've been supplementing Suzuki with some other pieces I like to play - the Mark O'Connor songs I could find here on the Fiddlerman site and am familiar with, and easy sheet music I find here and there on Pinterest (old popular tunes, TV/video game themes etc). These tend to be fun "challenges" I use as sight-reading practice, rather than pieces to get good at. I find the Suzuki book with its numbering doesn't help me improve my reading, so I like to sprinkle some other pieces so that I don't lose my already paltry ability to read notes (I only started to read music this year - as a child, in addition to the fingering already being written in, part of my homework was to write in the names of the notes, so I never really learned to read music at all).

As for what I plan on doing after Suzuki book 1... I don't think I'll be moving on to book 2 any time soon. I think the Suzuki books probably work brilliantly in conjunction with the triangle of support from a teacher and a parent, and when you use all of the additional tools, and when you plan on spending many years learning from an early age, and intend to pick up the instrument naturally, like a second language. For me though, I really got back into violin with the help of a fantastic book my friends gave me for my birthday called "Strictly Strings". I don't have much familiarity with other violin books, but I found this to be extremely useful for the self-learner as it goes through everything in detail, starting with the open strings, fingering, reading music, bowing, rests, scales, ties and slurs, time, pizzicato, 4th finger, up-beats, staccato, hooked bows, extended hand position, and spicatto. The fact that it names each of these skills as it introduces them allowed me to look up YouTube tutorials (including some of Fiddlerman's). I also like how the book introduces reading music. At the beginning, when you are just using open strings, there is no staff, just quarter notes placed higher or lower in relation to each other, and with the letter written on them. When you start using the fingers, a diagram of the neck of the violin is placed at the top of each page. Then the staff is introduced, and you learn a few short pieces just on the open strings with no letters, to get used to reading. I found this to be a relatively painless way to learn to read music in a practical setting.

And I think it was a really good place to start before getting back into Suzuki. 4th finger is learned separately on each string, which gives you plenty of opportunity to practice (although I still have a flyaway pinky I'm trying to tame!) and for the first time, I (somewhat!) understood keys, meaning when I came back to try Etude and onwards in Suzuki, I could make a fair stab at it.

The only downside to the "Strictly Strings" series from my point of view, in comparison to Suzuki, is that there are nowhere near the number of resources available. I'm trying to source the play-along accompaniments (apparently there are CDs available, but I haven't had any luck finding them yet, at least in my country).

I have purchased book 2 though, and am looking forward to starting on it once I gain a bit more confidence with the Suzuki material and review book 1 of Strictly Strings (which I moved through rather quickly). There are also Christmas, Orchestra, Classics, and Pop books which correlate to books 1 and 2 which are tempting me though...!laugh

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Fidelestre
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July 30, 2015 - 7:52 am
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Hi @RedViolin ,

From what I understand, the older editions of Suzuki didn't require 4th finger at Perpetual Motion, but the new edition definitely lists 4th finger as the one to use for certain notes in the piece. It actually shows 4th finger in some places and open E in others. Of course, it is always up to the player, but I decided to take the plunge in though it definitely has been the slowest piece so far for me to learn.

When I played 20 years ago I only used a method book just enough to see what the fingerings were, and then I started figuring out how to play Irish fiddle tunes. But this time I decided to approach it more properly. Suzuki is my method of choice because it is what my son (going into first grade this year) uses and I wanted to play along with him. But the method has turned out to be unexpectedly good for me as an adult too. The sequence of skills taught seems very logical, and the pieces are well-selected to illustrate just a little bit of new material with each new piece. Since I am mostly self-taught (just a few lessons this summer, and moving to monthly lessons in the fall), I also appreciate the wide variety of supplemental learning materials available online and elsewhere.

The Fiddlerman archive of sheet music is great, though I must caution that the arrangements are not the same as in the O'Connor or Suzuki books. For example, the keys and bowing are often different. Even the simple Fiddlerman arrangement of Amazing Grace is more difficult than that in the O'Conner book. Both arrangements are excellent, but the ones in the method books are designed to fit better if you're using that method to learn violin technique.

I have not seen the Strictly Strings books but will have to check them out - they sound promising.

Enjoy your playing - sounds like you have a great set of materials to work from!

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RedViolin
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July 30, 2015 - 9:32 pm
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Oh, that's interesting @Fidelestre. I certainly have the old edition of Suzuki book 1, so I wasn't aware that the 4th finger was introduced so early now. (Looks like I got off easily!) @Fiddlestix gave me some great advice on another thread regarding 4th finger, which was to play scales using the 4th finger instead of open strings for 10-15 mins before attempting to play a song which uses 4th finger. Slowly, I think I'm improving. Hope it helps for you too!

Reading The Suzuki Violinist and watching some YouTube videos, I began to understand the logic of how the Suzuki method is put together. I think it is something that teachers or parents who read such books would understand, but is a kind of "silent" curriculum in that the student doesn't necessarily know the rationales behind the selection and ordering of pieces. For example, I didn't realise that the fourth bar of Allegro is the same as the fourth bar of Go Tell Aunt Rhody, studied three songs before, until I heard it in this video:

I think it is a great method if you supplement it with a teacher or a lot of YouTube videos. Fortunately, there's a lot available!

Thanks for the note about the Fiddlerman arrangements as well.

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RedViolin
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Just thought I'd share this rather interesting post about Twinkle and Mozart: http://www.musicforyoungviolin.....ut-twinkle I don't think it's been shared on here before...gold_star

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Fidelestre
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Twinkle does have an interesting story. One thing I have enjoyed about the Suzuki repertoire is learning more about the history of the musical pieces. A great site for starting is http://www.markpolesky.com/suzuki/

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RedViolin
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Thank you @Fidelestre! This is an incredibly useful site.

It should be mentioned at some point that many of the pieces in the Suzuki series are labeled too simply, with singular names such as Gavotte or Largo. Anyone who wishes to research the original sources is faced with a particular challenge. For example, how many of Rameau’s 30 or so operas must one sift through before finding the Book 6 Gavotte buried in Act III of the obscure 1745 opera Le temple de la gloire? Hopefully in future editions, the publishers will include better identification of the sources.

http://www.markpolesky.com/suzuki/

Total agreement here!

I look forward to reading more about each piece, and you've inspired me to practice them all again!!

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coolpinkone
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August 24, 2015 - 5:28 pm
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I recently played a tune from Suzuki.  ( thanks to @Barry )

I have been playing Minuet 1, Bach from the Essentials Book, I believe it is in Suzuki also.

Anyway. ... I learned the Allegro tune this past week and boy that was fun and peppy. I found many you tube video... My issue is I don't have a cd with my suzuki book I haven't heard of the songs...Anyway.. I have found most of the tunes on youtube with instruction.  

Anyway.. I am having fun with it now.  I plan to get familiar with more Suzuki Tunes.  I have always used the Essentials for Violin Books... I am in a rut. 

I KEEP PROMISING MYSELF TO SELF TEACH through them... and I KEEP NOT DOING IT.  🙂

sigh...there.. true confession.

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Rob C
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It's taken me about 6 weeks to play the Finger Exercises No 1 on page 34 comfortably. My 2nd finger would always get in the way. Finally had a breakthrough. I am now on Allegreto for a week and It's going much more smoothly. In the essential elements I'm on Bingo 140 thru the Birthday Song. page 35. Almost got them. My teacher likes to play with me on Tallis Canon Round around 4 times through and I get lost in there. He's been teaching me out of both books weekly. 

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@coolpinkone ,

Now you can hear all of the Suzuki pieces (at least from book 1) on youtube - just be careful to listen to versions played by teachers or other seasoned players rather than beginners.

I have an older edition of Essential Elements, but yes, the minuet towards the back is one of the same minuets as in Suzuki book 1. However, the Suzuki version is a little bit longer - it includes an eight-bar section omitted in the Essential Elements version, and the whole second part is repeated in the Suzuki edition but not in Essential Elements. Whatever version you play, it is a beautiful song. I can't wait until I get to it!

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Fidelestre
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@Rob C ,

At least you got to the Finger Exercises - I am still stuck on Perpetual Motion. (Unofficially - officially, I'm still on Go Tell Aunt Rhody.) The 4th finger is quite difficult for me - my finger doesn't really stretch that far when I have first finger down, so I kind of have to "jump" to get there.

Do you like using two method books at the same time? My teacher is just using Suzuki with me, though she did listen to and comment on one of my fiddle tunes last lesson. On my own, I do a few pieces from various sources (including Essential Elements and Mark O'Connor Method) to practice things I haven't gotten to in Suzuki yet - like 4th finger, 2nd finger low, and 3rd finger low. I also practice a few fiddle tunes just for fun.

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Fidelestre
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@RedViolin ,

There are a handful of short finger exercises in Suzuki book 1, and Rob C mentioned the one on p 34 (after Perpetual Motion and before Allegretto, in the revised edition). It basically consists of playing the finger pattern 0213 2431 repeatedly, first on the E string, then the A string, and then the D string. The pattern is played first with eighth notes and then with sixteenth notes.

I suppose the exercise has the joint purpose of working on 4th finger and on the use of the D string.

I've tried it once or twice but then decided I had better master Perpetual Motion before I move on.

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coolpinkone
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August 27, 2015 - 4:44 pm
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@RedViolin 

Thank you for the links. You rock.  I am familiar with some of those sites!

🙂

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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coolpinkone
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August 27, 2015 - 4:52 pm
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I am listening to Perpetual Motion (perhaps for the first time...)  It isn't really grabbing me but I suppose there is  a lot of good bowing practice wrapped up in that lesson... 

facepalm okay okay... I just can't like it.

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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coolpinkone
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August 27, 2015 - 5:17 pm
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This version I didn't hate too much...

I might challenge myself after I get to know it more...

 

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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@coolpinkone I was able to borrow the Suzuki 1 CD from my library. I think I even renewed it a few times so I was able to keep it long enough to listen over and over until I could hum them all in my sleep!

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coolpinkone
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@Just4Fun That is a very very good idea.  I think I might go ahead and buy it... or make a play list from YOU tube.  Hard to think that 3 years later I am actually wanting to learn these tunes...but I like them and I like how they are a bit easier than some of the other stuff I have played.. 

Thanks for the great tip. 

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Rob C
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Fidelestre said
@Rob C ,

At least you got to the Finger Exercises - I am still stuck on Perpetual Motion. (Unofficially - officially, I'm still on Go Tell Aunt Rhody.) The 4th finger is quite difficult for me - my finger doesn't really stretch that far when I have first finger down, so I kind of have to "jump" to get there.

Do you like using two method books at the same time? My teacher is just using Suzuki with me, though she did listen to and comment on one of my fiddle tunes last lesson. On my own, I do a few pieces from various sources (including Essential Elements and Mark O'Connor Method) to practice things I haven't gotten to in Suzuki yet - like 4th finger, 2nd finger low, and 3rd finger low. I also practice a few fiddle tunes just for fun.

Hi, Sometimes it's a little cofusing with the two books. If I'm doing all the notes in one and they are sharps and the other book may be naturals or flats or mixed. Gets me mixed up sometimes when it's new. I like that there are little songs in the essential elements that I can learn fairly quickly and play instead of just being stuck on a piece from the suzuki for a long time. 

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Fidelestre
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August 27, 2015 - 9:21 pm
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@coolpinkone ,

I think Perpetual Motion is one of those songs that grows on you with repeated listening. My son is supposed to listen to the recordings, so I frequently play it. Have listened to several different recordings, but the one by William Preucil is especially nice overall. It's the CD that comes with the current edition, or you can download it from Amazon for $8.99 if your library doesn't have it. After listening to Perpetual Motion many times, I like it. The piece is kind of an "etude", but it is a fun one to play. It's quite challenging for its position in the book, but I guess that is part of the fun!

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