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End of Year Dances

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Taking Notes at your weekly Lessons

Good note taking will support you tremendously at home. 

Better notes now result in more independence sooner.

A lesson is much like a practice session.  A practice session is like having a lesson at home. 

A good practice is both productive and pleasant. 

ALWAYS: write down compliments your child receives in the lesson.  “Your teacher noticed how your bow strokes were sparkling in Scherzo!”

Also, write down what went well in the lesson.  For example: “I noticed your pinky stayed on the bow for all your review songs your lesson! We worked hard on that!”  Tell your player more than once about these things during the week. 

Along the left side of your practice sheet , indicate the parts of a typical practice, with space in between for the notes from your lesson:




Each lesson may not proceed exactly in this order. Simply take your notes in the “reading” part of the page while your teacher is working on reading in the lesson, etc.   

  * * * * * * * * * * *

It may not be possible for your teacher to cover each category at every lesson.  It takes lesson time to go into detail, and is important for your child to understand the steps to take.  If a category is not included in the lesson, you probably don’t want to eliminate that category from your musical work at home.  You can double check at the end of the lesson.  For example:  “Should we continue reading the etude for another week?” 

Organize your notes as a to-do list.   Make action oriented notes, including what to focus on.  For example: “Play these 5 notes with your eyes on the spot where the bow is on the string.  Listen for clean, scooping bow strokes.”  Do this successfully 4X each day.”  When you read this at home together, it should result in a successful, well-informed practice.  

We are aiming to learn skills.  The songs are absorbed automatically during listening.  As you take notes, write down the steps for learning a skill.   Sometimes it takes the space on the flip side of your practice sheet for the 4 or 5 steps needed to do as a short “workout”.  Your teacher will probably repeat these steps next week, so you can add some new information here and there. Write as much as you can, as well as you can.  If you have a question, find a moment to clarify whatever you need with your teacher.Your teacher is aiming to teach skills.  It helps to talk at home about skills.  For example, “We are working on creating short and long bow strokes!” instead of saying “We are learning Lightly Row”.  Therefore, focus on skill-building in your note taking.

Here is an article you may find useful:

Taking Notes at Lessons

Practical Tips for Parents

by Heidi Ehle

Continuity is a crucial part of learning an instrument, and the link that provides continuity between lessons and practice is your precious notes! Having been a Suzuki parent, I know that in a busy day sometimes you sink into the chair at the lesson and think, “Ah, 30 minutes of down time.” Then you find yourself daydreaming, and before you know it the lesson is over. You glance down at your notebook, and see “Review Allegro” … hmmm, not much to work with. You hear your teacher compliment your child on the lesson, but you are not exactly sure what went on……

Helpful Hints

While you may need some clarification at the end of the lesson, the teacher expects you to pick out major points for practice during the lesson. Here are some tips:

1. Look for a theme, especially with very young children. There is what Suzuki teachers call the “one point lesson.” If you hear the same aspect mentioned again and again, circle it at the top of your notes (i.e., thumb position, clear high notes, where is your foot, D’s correct).

2. In review songs, what is the teacher’s focus? Sometimes it is just a fun warm-up, but more often there is a specific goal. Children do not like mind-numbing repetition. Find the teaching point in the review (i.e., beautiful E’s, breathing, fingering D to C, air use on high notes, etc.).

3. Write down how to do things. “Last two measures of Minuet I” is not enough. How did the teacher break it up? Did you follow the process so it can be duplicated at home? (i.e., do this small group 5 times with no slurs, then add slurs, then speed up, through the A, be careful of the C#.)

4. In scales and exercises, try to notice how they are worked on (i.e., fruit salad, slur patterns, speed, position or tone aspects). Just writing “Do F Major scale” is usually not enough.

5. If you can’t follow where we are in the music, make a copy of the piece as your own study copy. Whether you read music or not, you’ll find this makes a huge difference.

6. Listen for cues. Your teacher is constantly aware of your presence—and how mentally present you are. Whenever you hear the word “practice,” heads up! Also listen for colorful language: sail your tone out the skylight, staccatos like hammering little nails, BIG beach ball bouncing. Try to use these words again in the practice. Listen for location phrases: “in the last measure of that line, where it starts on B-flat and goes up, where it says crescendo.” These location tips are often for your benefit, as the teacher and student already know where they are working.

7. Observe and adore your child. Relish the chance to do this. Watch body language, facial expressions, how your child learns, what feelings flicker past. It’s very interesting, and you may find something to talk about later, or you may just cherish the memory 10 years from now. However, keep your reactions, especially negative ones, to yourself during the lesson.

8.  Need time to space out? OK. There are times you can, like when the teacher goes off on a long technical workout and you already have the gist of what is being done. But listen for cue words to bring you back to attention.

9.  Help your teacher: Put all materials recently used on the stand at the beginning of the lesson. Ask for clarification of practice tasks at end of lesson. Ask about review if your teacher did not mention it. Try not to do noisy things like rattle newspapers, tear checks, crinkle cellophane, etc. It’s easy to forget that listening captures all sounds—and we are listening. Bring up general practice or schedule problems at the beginning of the lesson. Starting these important and timely conversations at the end of the lesson can wreak havoc with the teacher’s attempt to stay on time. Keep the teacher informed about events that may affect the child in a significant way (moving, illness, divorce, school troubles, etc.). These things have an impact which the teacher observes, and wants to respond to appropriately. Lengthy explanations are not needed, but a word will enable the teacher to respond in a sensitive, effective way


Below is a possible template for you in your note taking at lessons: 


Tonalization ___________________ with drone #______

What to look for :

What to listen for:

Repeat ____times


Review: focussing on  ___________________

Play each song successfully 2X






Preview: What exactly

HOW to practice this

what to look for: 

What to listen for:

Repeat successfully 3X



Listening with the music: 

Start somewhere other than the beginning!  

start here:                      or here:                     or here:

Goal for this week:


 Name the notes of one line of music each day

 Name the fingerings of that line of music each day

 Listen to your orchestra music, if possible, reading the sheet music


Play with  track_________ using __________scale or finger pattern

Notice your unique musical voice.  

What is your teacher bringing to your attention this week?



To cultivate independence so your practicer can successfully try to practice alone on one category, or for one day: 

Take very clear notes.  

Have your child take notes too. Have them write down, even one word for each category.  We can do this in our lessons.

It is possible to provide 7 boxes to check for each day

or indicate how many minutes to spend on each activity

or indicate goals for each day for each activity


Helpful resources:

Cleartune: app for tuning

Tonal Energy: app for tuning which also has a metronome

Drones: Cello Drones by Marcia Sloane

Ceative Ability Development;  www.creativeabilitydevelopmentpress.com

        some CAD volumes do not have digital downloads. 

        You can find the audio files here on the  creative ability development page.

Amazing Slow Downer: app for practicing with accompaniment at home using.

Repertoire:  Itunes, Apple Music, spotify.  Purchasing CD's

There are other audio files on my web site:


app:  “decide now” allows you to custom make spinners for different games in the practice room.