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Suzuki Rhythm Mnemonics in Pedagogical Theory and Actual Realization

Suzuki Rhythm Mnemonics in Pedagogical Theory and Actual Realization

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Title: Suzuki Rhythm Mnemonics in Pedagogical Theory and Actual Realization
Author: Ebin, Zachary
Rahn, Jay
Abstract: The Suzuki Violin School volumes begin with variations on
“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Each variation consists of a
repeated rhythmic figure. Suzuki teachers use mnemonics to teach
these rhythmic figures. Two of these variations are pedagogically
problematic. Both comprise six onsets: one consists of two
triplets; the other repeats a figure comprising an eighth note and
two sixteenths. Teachers have been observed using mnemonics
for one variation that others use for the other variation.
This study examines the rhythms produced and identified on
reading 9 mnemonics that Suzuki teachers commonly employ.
Thirty participants were asked to speak the mnemonics and their
responses were recorded and measured with Audacity software.
Twenty participants who were either Suzuki teachers or trained
musicians were also asked which notated rhythm each mnemonic
corresponded to. Interonset intervals in the recordings were
measured to determine the timing of the syllables in the spoken
mnemonics. These timings were compared with the notated
rhythms that had been identified by Suzuki teachers and the other
trained musicians.
Among the results, some mnemonics that Suzuki teachers have
regarded as representing one rhythm were actually recited in a
manner that more closely corresponded to the other. Two of the
mnemonics were rendered closer to “swing” rhythm, and one of
the mnemonics was often realized as five syllables rather than the
anticipated six. This study has implications for Suzuki pedagogy,
as well as music education more generally, as using verbal
mnemonics to teach rhythms is a widespread teaching technique.
Subject: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,
Suzuki pedagogy, rhythm production, recitation, mnemonics, interonset intervals
Type: Presentation
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/6609
Citation: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC11), Seattle Washington, USA, pp. 591-96
Date: 2011-08

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