Advice for Students and Parents
This summer, cello teacher Kasey Cooper registered and successfully completed the Suzuki cello book 1 course. Brought up in the Suzuki method, Ms. Cooper was again impressed by the progress of children when the parents are directly involved. The Suzuki method stresses that the proper environment is more important than talent. Our program can learn from that model. All parents are encouraged to observe their child’s lessons.
Make sure that time for daily practice is established in the household. Parents should be aware of the power of supportive involvement. Involved parents can actually be multipliers of what is taught in the lessons.
Attendance, practice and positive attitudes are key to progress. The next NOSP board meeting will address attendance policy and how best to foster parental involvement
Below you see a couple of examples of good violin/viola and cello playing postures.
On the right you see a NOSP student with terrific violin posture: standing up straight, with the violin parallel to the ground, and the bow perpendicular to the strings. On the left you see Helen Gillet with her class. They are demonstrating how cellists need to sit up very straight on the very edge of their chairs, with feet flat on the ground. Cellists need to be able to hold their instruments steady with their knees and chests as you see here: “look ma, no arms!”
Below you see a great example of a violin/viola bow hold. See how there’s a little space between each finger, and how the fingertips angle away from the violin? It’s just the same for the cello except that the pinkie finger drapes down over the edge of the bow instead of balancing up on top. You can help your child with this!
Having (very) short fingernails is essential to playing a string instrument.
Here’s a great example of a bass bow hold. There are actually two kinds of bass bow holds, French or German, depending on the kind of bow they have. Here you see the German bow hold demonstrated beautifully by one of NOSP’s newest students.
Here you see a terrific example of violin/viola finger position. All NOSP students should have tapes on their instrument indicating exactly where their fingers go. The key is to have their fingers “hovering” over the tapes even when they are not using them. The fingers of the left hand need to learn to get to their exact spots automatically. Here you see the first, second, third, and fourth (pinkie) finger sitting exactly in their correct positions. Bravo!!
A NOTE to NOSP parents, new and continuing:
You are invited and encouraged to observe your child’s music class. This can help you know how to support him/her in practicing at home, an essential part of learning to play an instrument. You’re welcome to take a chair from the music room, but avoid moving anything else, and please help throw away any trash (snack wrappers, loose papers) that you happen to see in the hall or music room since we have a very limited time after the last class to put things back in order before we have to be out of the building. Thank you for your cooperation!
Advice from NOSP Teachers
In our upcoming Spring performances we will be featuring very small groups of young NOSP musicians (duos, trios, quartets). It is important that each individual musician rise to the occasion and perform her/his best at these events. We asked the NOSP teachers what specific suggestions they have regarding how to best prepare for classes and performances.
Casey: “Posture is so important in playing the cello. Make sure your child is seated at the edge of the chair, with his feet flat on the ground, sitting up nice and straight, with the bow always perpendicular to the string.”
Dave: “Practice slowly, carefully, and with good position. Fast practice makes for slow progress. Slow practice makes for fast progress. NO PRACTICE MAKES FOR NO PROGRESS. (and don’t forget to rosin the bow)”
James: “The only way to improve one’s skills is to spend time with the instrument EVERY day…even if just for five minutes. A little practice (every day) goes a long way.”
Helen: “Cellos should be treated with respect. Make sure to leave them in a safe place on their side or straight up and down where they will not get kicked, stepped on or hit with any sort of flying objects!”
Meg: “The most helpful thing is if the parents get involved and sort of learn the material along side the student. Then when the child is trying to practice at home, without the help of the teacher, the parents can better guide them.”
From former NOSP Director Jeanne Jaubert: “Parents, ask your child to tell you what they’ve learned. Even if it doesn’t make any sense to you, ask him/her what are the names of the notes? What finger do you use to play that note?
Having him/her explain that to you helps so much in their learning process. Besides that, just ask them to play for you the song they are working on … every day … if you can stand it … really, I understand … this is crucially important to learning to play an instrument.”