How violin lessons can help you to get better at academics

For the last 14 years my son Siddharth has been learning to play the violin at the Suzuki school of violin in Pune. The school is run by the brilliant Ms. Rama Chobhe, a highly accomplished musician and teacher. In many ways this is a music school like no other, and I am going to list just three of its unique features.
  1. A parent must attend every class with the child, and help with the child's practice at home. In a sense the parent learns music with the child, though they do not play the instrument.
  2. There are no exams. A student progresses by learning one "book" at a time, each one encompassing more advanced techniques than the previous book. The culmination of a book is a compulsory "graduation concert", a public performance by the graduating students. Though the bulk of a graduation concert is taken up by the graduating students, every student of the school must participate in a group performance at these concerts.
  3. The school encourages and facilitates public performances from the very beginning. In addition to several graduation concerts in a year, the school also organises charity events where the entire school is encouraged to participate. My son "performed" at a concert just a couple of months after joining the school, and he was barely 4 years old! I have seen other kids perform just a few days or weeks after joining the school.
I want to talk about point#3 above, because that is central to the FlashCardz method of learning.

The public performances of the Suzuki violin school help a student in two broad ways.
  1. From very early on, a student learns what it is like to perform on the big stage. They understand the environment and become familiar with the process and pressures of performance.
  2. The students are forced, very frequently, to apply their skills and test themselves for their ability to retrieve information from the brain and apply it. Illusions of being good can be quickly broken and the necessary correction applied in these relatively low-stress situations, because the kids are generally playing in front of friendly audiences.
So how does this help with academics?

Research tells us that the self-study methods used by most children are among the least effective for long term learning. A typical process of self-study involves reading and re-reading the book, highlighting important parts, and going through notes. This process generally builds an illusion of understanding, which is rudely broken in an exam, denting the child's confidence.

It is necessary to break this illusion of understanding early, and often. The FlashCardz method forces a student to recall answers, apply their understanding, and become familiar with the style of exam questions. Every single day. Early and often.

The FlashCardz method is a microcosm of tests and exams, operating in a low risk and non-threatening environment. Just like the Suzuki school performances, it makes a student recall and perform, highlighting areas of weakness and building confidence quickly. Experienced educators vouch for this method.

We have even had parents participate in the learning process with our students, but we leave that to the parents and children to decide!


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