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Pupil really struggling with retention


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#1 RoseRodent

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 18:29

I have a violin pupil in her last primary year who is a total beginner who started in January. She is getting on OK with remembering the names of note types and how many beats they are worth, but she really, really struggles to remember which notes are which on the stave and where they are on the violin. She does practice, she loves to play and plays for her relatives, but several months in she still really struggles to remember which string is which. I've tried doing some more aural repetition types of work with her as her ear is stronger than her visuals, but any suggestions for moving things forward with the notation side of things, and knowing what notes she's actually playing? Is there anything she can be doing during her daily practice that might help her remember and retain what's what? I may ask her to play it through saying the notes out loud once she has a something fluent, but just now I think that would put her off. I'm pulling material from everywhere because she's still struggling with using only two open strings.
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#2 dolcevita

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 19:15

I like to use games with my piano pupils when they encounter problems with reading music. A brief search on google led me to this site for violin. Maybe this game for open strings may help you. It looks like the site could be worth looking at anyway, even if you don't fancy the game!
Good luck
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#3 Piano Meg

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 19:25

I don't know if this would be too young for her, but I've made large flashcard-type cards with single notes on the stave, put them on the floor and got my pupils to jump to the note I shout (idea from or inspired by Susan Paradis website). I don't know about violin, but perhaps you could put four long strings out on the floor and do a similar thing. Just trying to think about kinaesthetic learners.

Or would it be worth looking at notes on a piano/xylophone so she can see how the notes go up a scale and up the stave - I've no idea how violin is taught (piano person:-)), but maybe she's having trouble with the concept of intervals between open strings?

Do you know how she does at school?
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#4 owainsutton

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 19:27

Stick with it! January to April is still early days for some kids.

If she's enjoying it, and isn't bothered by the slow pace herself, they allow her to work through lots of repetition. Keeping most of the work aural, with plenty of repetition of open string pieces (or pieces for which you can create an open string accompaniment) to keep the concept of notation alive.

Not just saying but singing note names can help a lot. I'd certainly consider introducing all three fingers, without any reference to notation for some time. If you can get D major in place then the sequence of letters starts to make more sense, and you can get away with "We call F and C 'sharp' because of the gap" and leave the full explanation till later.
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#5 Seer_Green

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 22:11

I don't know anything about violin but given her age, the fact she's a total beginner, and she's only been going a few months, I wouldn't be unduly worried by her progress to date. Children all progress at different speeds and I'm not sure she's taking longer than most.
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#6 Hedgehog

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 22:19

I have one or two pupils like this - I teach quite a number of primary age pupils. I have found it useful to use the Lina Ng theory books. There are 2 that call themselves Theory for little children (bit of an insult if you're nearly 11 perhaps) but they ask for repetition of notes - drawing them on large stave, and games to join up the correct note and its name. There are some keyboard examples, but not too many. I've found the repetition of actually drawing the notes helps.
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#7 HelenVJ

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 08:03

After reading the thread title, I was relieved to find this had nothing to do with the 'teachers allowing pupils to use their loo' topic.
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#8 Aquarelle

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 10:00

QUOTE
QUOTE(Seer_Green @ Apr 27 2012, 10:11 PM) View Post

I don't know anything about violin but given her age, the fact she's a total beginner, and she's only been going a few months, I wouldn't be unduly worried by her progress to date. Children all progress at different speeds and I'm not sure she's taking longer than most.



agree.gif I am sure Seer Green is right. As teachers we have to develop absolutely enormous patience. The amount of repetition needed by the vast majority of pupils is far more than one would think. The trick is to do the same material over and over again but in such a way that the child doesn't find it repetitive.

If I could just give an example. I have a young flautist who has just finsihed Funky Flute Book 1. I am pretty certain she could tacke Book 2. However I am also pretty certain that if I give her Book 2 the work done in Book 1 will not be sufficiently consolidated - and particularly the physical problems of holding the flute correctly and developing the correct embouchure. So we are going to do the Repertoire Book 1 and I will let her think it is the "next book". I will also lend her another flute tutor book which covers the same material as Funky Flute book 1 but with a more adutl layout and apporach.

I have learnt over the years that you really can't spend too much time on foundations - and yet I have to admit I am still sometimes guilty of a litte impatience to get on. I just have to curb it.
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#9 Cyrilla

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 10:39

QUOTE(Aquarelle @ Apr 29 2012, 11:00 AM) View Post

The amount of repetition needed by the vast majority of pupils is far more than one would think.

I have learnt over the years that you really can't spend too much time on foundations...


agree.gif agree.gif agree.gif
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#10 Guest: VH2_*

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 11:02

QUOTE(Aquarelle @ Apr 29 2012, 11:00 AM) View Post

The amount of repetition needed by the vast majority of pupils is far more than one would think.

And not just pupils. Few of us regularly spend as much time on a composition as it takes to really master it. We rarely admit just how much effort it takes even for an advanced instrumentalist to learn to play even the simplest of pieces really well.
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#11 Cyrilla

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 16:23

I am CONSTANTLY banging on to my students about the importance of repetition - I say it over and over and over again...

rolleyes.gif tongue.gif laugh.gif
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#12 RoseRodent

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 17:35

Thanks everyone, good to get a clearer head on the subject. Mum said at the start that she finds school very hard going also, and I get the impression that life at home can be a little chaotic. I actually got a very pleasant surprise to find that the material she is working this week forms the entire presentation for a copper Music Medal, which is aimed at pupils who have been learning for about one full term so that's great. It's a short of the security needed to actually put it in for a medal, but very encouraging to see that she is approaching that level. I had a look through all my mounds of material to find some more that we can do without things going boring, and I think I will carry working some skills using aural repetition so the music doesn't get boring.
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#13 barncottagecat

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 21:17

QUOTE(RoseRodent @ May 2 2012, 06:35 PM) View Post

Thanks everyone, good to get a clearer head on the subject. Mum said at the start that she finds school very hard going also, and I get the impression that life at home can be a little chaotic. I actually got a very pleasant surprise to find that the material she is working this week forms the entire presentation for a copper Music Medal, which is aimed at pupils who have been learning for about one full term so that's great. It's a short of the security needed to actually put it in for a medal, but very encouraging to see that she is approaching that level. I had a look through all my mounds of material to find some more that we can do without things going boring, and I think I will carry working some skills using aural repetition so the music doesn't get boring.


Its good to hear that you are happy to keep going rose rodent - as a parent of a (9 yr old) child who has taken a full two years to be able to read music and place the corresponding notes on the strings (he plays cello). He still needs to have the music enlarged so he can define each note, and after he has read the notes, we still write them in letter form underneath at the moment, as he can't read the music quickly enough in context.

To keep him interested his teacher dipped into colour strings and taught him lots of tunes using solfege whilst gently plodding away. Though extremely painful all round at times, it was utterly worth it, and the slow progress has resulted in excellent tuning!
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#14 Hedgehog

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 08:35

This is such an encouraging thread. I have a number of parents who are so keen for child to step on to the exam ladder and into the one-a-year mode of exams. I have always found that when pupil and I are left to our own devices with support from parents things go so much better. smile.gif

Sorry. Realise this is a bit off topic. I'm just contemplating today's teaching!!
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