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James Walley
How far did you take the Etude on page 37 of Suzuki 1?  Specifically, did you keep up with it until you could play it along with the piano accompaniment on the CD?  As far as I can tell, the tempo on that track is approximately 117 bpm.  Using a metronome, I've been upping the speed to the point where I can get through it, albeit quite unsteadily, at 90 bpm.  I just don't see how "beginners" can be expected to get through a piece of all eighth notes at what would be considered Allegro Moderato (equivalent to Prestissimo if the piece was in quarter notes instead)...and that's not to mention to switching to the double-bows per note in Variation B!

Yes, I know I'm just whining.  It's the frustration of pounding away at the piece for about two hours while seeing little if any improvement.  And, yes, I'm sure that, with enough effort (not to mention blood, sweat, and tears...along with any other '70's era jazz-rock band you'd care to mention), I'll finally be able to get it at the proper speed.  I just get the sense that I'm going to be stuck on the "blue" level of Beginner 2 for the next six months at this rate!
James Walley
4 Responses
Posted: July 12, 2019
Last Comment: July 16, 2019

James Walley
Posted: July 16, 2019
Thank you all very much for the clarifications.  I must admit that, obviously not having taken Suzuki classes myself, my initial assumption was that students (including children) taking the course were expected to handle the Etude at the tempo on the CD at the stage at which they encountered it, and wouldn't be allowed to progress further until they could perform it at that tempo.  (Beth, maybe a short video, or an addendum to an already-existing one, about this might be in order?  I very much doubt that I'm the only beginner here who has had that reaction/misunderstanding, and been discouraged from continuing as a result.)

At any rate, I've just been using Speedshifter.  Playing the piece in its double-bowed Variation B, I started at being able to get through it (without feeling out-of-control) at -60%, and have gradually got it up to -45%.  I intend to move on to the "peach" section of the syllabus after Wednesday, and will thereafter revisit the Etude in two or three practices per week, seeing if I can increase the tempo slightly further each week.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: July 12, 2019
James, most teachers agree that the tempos on the CD are way too fast, and find it as frustrating as the students do. These are performance tempos and assumes the typical Suzuki student will have worked on these pieces for months even years, considering most of the pieces aren't mastered until much later in the student's development.  There are other sources for the accompaniment at a more reasonable tempo. I think you should do as Elke did and put it into the speedshifter, the Amazing slow downer, or some other such app that gives you tempo control over audio tracks. 

Posted: July 12, 2019
Hi James, I have yet to be able to play many of the pieces at the tempos of the accompaniment. My understanding is that those are optimal performance tempos and it may take a while and we can move on before we reach those tempos. As I move through the books, it gets harder and harder to chase those tempos. But it's a constant goal to keep in mind. Some might say that only a professional could quite reach some of the tempos of those pieces! And that they are for listening only! Thank goodness for the slow downer!

Elke Meier
Posted: July 12, 2019
If it is a comfort to you: I played the etude with Speedshifter so I could slow down the accompaniment to where I could handle it. No way could I get to the insanely quick accompaniment of the CD. Also I found that the accompaniment on the CD is faster than most other accompaniments I found. Don't feel bad. Just don't let yourself be tempted to play it faster than you can play it cleanly. Otherwise you will cement bad playing. Go on to the next piece and then come back to the Etude periodically. If you record yourself at this stage and then keep coming back every so often you will recognize in a few months that even Etude has improved while you worked on something else.