Suzuki Early Childhood Education Teacher Training 2017
I would like to thank the ESTA Nannie Jamieson Nutshell Fund sponsored by Universal Edition for awarding me this bursary, and enabling me to complete my level 1 training in Suzuki method for ‘cello, it really is greatly appreciated.
Upon arrival, I found Angela to be a very warm and friendly teacher who welcomed my fellow trainees and me into her home for our training weekends.
She is very passionate and knowledgeable when it comes to playing ‘cello, and it is clear that she enjoys sharing this with her trainees.
As a level 1, I was training alongside 2 others on the same level, but also with two level 3's. It was very interesting to observe the higher-level trainees, and Angela managed to fit everything in appropriately for both levels.
The course was over 9 weekends, spent discussing and practising with each other, how to start pupils off from scratch. Setting up with the correct sized instrument and stool is covered, posture, and various games to play to help the child learn rhythms and tunes before moving on to the Suzuki repertoire in book 1.
Angela is very creative in her teaching, which the children respond to extremely well, making their lessons an enjoyable part of their weekly timetable, generally full of fun, games, and laughter.
We had the chance to observe many lessons with differently aged and experienced pupils, and also took part, as supervised teaching sessions were included.
Angela gave us individual lessons throughout the course to ensure we understood the various techniques used in each piece of book 1, which we memorised for the final exam. It was required that we not just memorise the notes, but also the methods we had learnt to apply to each pieces, as well as teaching points. Teaching points could be different for each piece, although many overlap. Martele bowing come in from the start, followed by bow division, with things like holding fingers down whilst changing strings closely follow. The best part for me was a piece called ‘Perpetual Motion’, which ensures the left hand moves swiftly before the right using ‘catapult’ fingers. I have had a lot of pupils trying this out, and it has greatly improved their technique, especially when playing scales – no more coordination problems or delay in note change!
There was an Alexander Technique session each weekend which has been very helpful to relieve tension whilst playing, and I am now applying this to my own pupils, helping them to understand how to sit correctly, creating a healthier use of the body which, in turn, creates a more satisfying tone, as well as less pain and therefore the ability to play for longer.
Since taking this course, not only has my teaching improved, but also my own personal technique, as Angela is very thorough in all stages of learning the instrument.
I am already a fairly experienced cello teacher (full time for 9 years), but still found this course to be valuable in my development, filling in gaps where I may have been unsure before of how best to teach, and reassuring me within my current methods.
I have been applying various things to my current pupils, for example, games for the younger ones to help with bow hold, tonalisations – copying a short series of notes from the teacher, then listening to things like the tone, the tuning, and perhaps focussing on bow angle, or left hand shape. With newer young pupils, I now feel I have a set path of tuition, and find the children respond well to learning things without the music so much at the start.
There are many technical things that I have learnt how to teach in a more methodical way, including smooth shifts, measuring of shifts, extensions and how to keep the hand in the required shape, as well as being made more aware of bow distribution and placement.
I hope to continue with level 2 in the near future!