Practice session goals
Often I will get to a lesson with a student and ask, so what did you focus on with your practicing this week? and often the answer will be, "well I played it through a few times..."
I get it, practice can seem like a chore to a child at times. Lately I have been saying less and less in lessons and when they get confused and say, "was that ok?" I will ask "I don't know, was it? what do you think?"
This (after confusing them even more for a while) forces them to listen more critically to what they are doing. I often will say, your answer doesn't have to be "right" but I want you to start having an opinion. If they don't learn to ask themselves these questions, It can become all to easy to lay back and expect me to do all the critical thinking for them. I think in practice sessions you can help your child by asking them to come up with one or two things to focus on in that session only. If they only ask themselves the question, "what could I have done that would have made it sound a bit better?" they usually know a lot of the answers already. The only way to gain confidence in their own opinions is to be able to have one. This is why as a parent, instead of making them "wrong" make sure the focus is to try a few different things instead. Allow them to experiment a little more, and increase their confidence!
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Often my students don't have perfect pitch and so even though I give them guidance each lesson with learning how to tune their instruments themselves, they don't have a starting point to work from.
"Perfect pitch" is when you are able to name any note that is played without having a given note before it. It's apparently very rare, and more common among musicians that have learned from a very young age. Asians - Chinese in particular I believe, are more likely to have it, due to the musical nature of their language. They have to have different pitches for words as often they use the same word for many different meanings - Interesting!
"Relative pitch" is when you are given a note and then, once you have this note, you are able to recognise other pitches by figuring out the interval. This is where having a tuning aid comes in handy. The violin tunes to an A. We always start with the A string and then adjust all other strings. That's why at the beginning of an orchestra concert, the Oboe gives an A to the concertmaster.
When it comes to tuning at home, whether it's a piano (not great if it hasn't been tuned recently), a tuning fork, or an electronic tuner, your child can learn to figure out a way to tune their instrument more easily without a teachers help. If you have none of these options available, but you have an I-Phone (as just about everyone has nowadays), there is an app called "Tuner Lite" and it's free! (thank goodness for technology). There is the option of having the A played by pressing one button, or by using it's microphone and having the application work out if you are playing too high or low.
Here I write my musings on teaching, or other things that come up in lessons/relate to violin learning. Anything suggested is just that, suggestions and my thoughts and may differ from the opinions of my other music colleagues!