The Suzuki Method evolved from Dr. Shinichi Suzuki’s approach in teaching the violin. Dr. Suzuki pioneered the idea that young children could learn to play the violin if the learning steps were small enough and the instrument was scaled down to fit their body size. The Extension Division has one of the most comprehensive Suzuki Violin programs in Northern NJ. Suzuki violin study consists of two components – a private lesson and book class. The private lesson provides the student with individual attention, introduction and reinforcement of technique, and repertoire. The Book Class consists of students studying at the same book level performing pieces from the book together with a class instructor. The Book Class experience serves as a motivating reinforcement of the private lesson as well as social interaction with other music students working on the same material. All book class students have the opportunity to perform in a ‘Playdown’ concert each semester.
WHY FIDDLE? Why not fiddle?! Fiddle music is the Suzuki method in its natural habitat; Learning music by ear, in a supportive community with a common repertoire, and passing it on to future generations! There are traditions of fiddle music in many cultures around the world, including the United States. Fiddle music emerges when people who harbor the traditional music of their culture play that music on the violin, for enjoyment, self-expression and for social dancing. Modern fiddle music has evolved into an ever more complex, ever changing, virtuosic and artistic form of musical expression on the violin, continuing the traditions with creativity and flair. A culture’s fiddle music is shaped through a process of “musical natural selection” with each new generation learning, playing and adapting the music, much like a living language. Thus fiddle traditions are mostly aural traditions though fiddlers are musically literate and learn to read and write music notation. Honing the skill of learning tunes by ear is an invaluable education for any musician, as it allows one to learn not only what they hear from the outside, person to person, but also to play what they hear in their own heads, paving the way for composing. Through learning fiddle, violinists learn to approach their instruments in a new way that gives freedom to be creative, to make music with their peers or anyone around the world who shares their musical “language,” for fun, for enjoyment, for dancing, and to be part of a living tradition that they can take pride in continuing and eventually pass on to future generations.
How? Fiddle music combines the violinist aspects of classical music, the improvisational aspects of jazz, the forms and chord changes of rock and pop, the ornamentation and dance forms of Baroque music, and the challenges of integrating rhythm into your playing through playing for dancing. Through studying scales, chords and the rhythms of particular fiddle traditions, students develop the basics of our musical “language.” Through learning tunes aurally by call and response, students develop ear training skills and really learn to listen to each other. Through connecting what we play with our voices and our “inner ear” we learn to play with more musicality.
For students in Suzuki/O’Connor books 1-3: Scales and modes covered: A Maj, D Maj, G Maj, E min, B min, A mix, D mix, G pentatonic. Arpeggios and chords covered: A maj, A min, D maj, D min, G maj, G mix, E min, B min. Tunes covered: We will learn a mix of Irish, Scottish, Quebequois and American Old Timey tunes in Jig (6/8), Reel (2/2), Polka, (2/4) and Waltz (3/4) time, through aural call and response. Sheet music will be supplied but please bring a recording device to class to record the tunes.
For students in Suzuki/O’Connor books 4 and up. Scales and modes covered: All of the scales and modes in the FiddleBugs class as well as F Maj, D min, B flat Maj, G min, E Maj, C Maj, A min, and more modes and pentatonic scales. Arpeggios and chords covered: F Maj, D min, B flat Maj, G min, E maj, C Maj, E flat Maj. We’ll learn a mix of Irish, Scottish, Quebequois and American old time fiddle tunes. In addition to the jigs, reels and waltzes learned in FiddleBugs, we will add strathspeys, marches, hornpipes, slip jigs, slides, hop jigs and slow airs. Sheet music will be supplied but please bring a recording device to record tunes in class.
Musicianship & Theory Classes
- Sight Reading for Strings
This class is open to violinists, violists and cellists in Late Suzuki Books 1 through 3 (or equivalent) who want to improve their note reading literacy and fluency. Techniques for reading music will be built upon week-by-week and presented in an upbeat playful way. Classroom materials will be supplied.
- Music Theory
For students age nine and older. Students are exposed to the fundamental principles and practices of music construction. Through reading, analysis, composing and progressive refinement of aural skills students are given a broad understanding of music in a fun-to-learn environment. The theory curriculum is designed as a comprehensive sequential foundation for all musicians.
- Music Technology
Music Technology classes are intended for high school age students. Middle school age students may be accepted into a class at the discretion of the class instructor. All music technology classes are held in the John J. Cali School of Music’s state-of-the-art computer lab.
- Using Music Notation Software for Practice & Composition
Designed as a technological supplement to AP Music Theory courses, students will learn to use Finale music notation software in order to augment both their practice and theoretical skills. Students will be able to notate and play back their own original works or make basic arrangements of pre-existing works. They will learn different operating procedures in a variety of musical styles including classical and popular genres.
- GarageBand/Songwriting for Beginners
This class is designed for the aspiring songwriter. Students will learn the basics of recording and digital audio workstations in the context of producing their own songs, compositions or covers. Students will also learn about lyric writing, song structure, arrangements and groove.