Four Steps to Better Learning – Step 2: Intention/Attention
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This is the second letter in the series about better learning.  Today’s topic is Practicing with Intention/Attention.  Dr. Suzuki wrote in Nurtured by Love, “Our improvement in ability depends on action and the direction of our attention to doing things.”  Adding to last week’s formula we can write:  P = E X I where P is progress, E is the effort expended and I is the intention/attention directed towards the task.  

Having Fun Increases Learning                          print this letter in full sheet or half sheet

A Suzuki program is meant to be a community of learners, sharing a vision and  methods to achieve the vision.  Dr. Suzuki desired to mold beautiful hearts through the discipline of playing an instrument.  He developed a system to do this, but he was always tinkering with the exact methods.  He never stopped learning and experimenting to improve upon his ideas.  He enjoyed the learning process!

Long (and Successful Breaks)                             print this letter in full sheet or half sheet

While an occasion break from practice and lessons is refreshing, a month without practice will lead to several months of skill recovery when lessons restart.  Keep in mind the goals you have for your child: to learn an instrument, to love music, to have a beautiful heart.  Don’t lose sight of the goals during a break, and forgo their exercises (practicing).

The Centipede’s Dilemma

Last week I wrote about students who freeze up when playing because they aren’t prepared. But even a student who practices and listens a lot can struggle to play, especially in stressful situations. I have watched many a beginning student fumble for the next note while sounding out a new piece, obviously thinking, “Now which finger is it?” I can see the needed finger quivering in the air, aching to fly to the string but it is held in check by the brain’s unconscious fear and analysis.

When is a piece finished and ready to be performed? 
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There are times when a parent thinks that the teacher is holding their child back.  It seems as if the piece is done and the child is ready to move on, and certainly ready to perform, but the teacher continues to rework "old" points.