Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Minuet in ADD

For reasons I haven't been able to figure out, a lot of my private students seem to have attention deficit disorder. Some have come to me while on medication, and in the course of taking lessons, have stopped taking their medication, and some can barely function at all unless they have their medication.

Lessons with these students are always a challenge, and I always try to embrace the difficulties that my students encounter as a result of not being able to separate the various stimuli that come into play when trying to play the violin. Playing the violin involves the aural, the visual, and the tactile. The senses of smell and taste come into play only figuratively. The odd thing is that, to a person, all of my students with ADD are deeply musical people, and, when frustration doesn't get the better of them, playing the violin means a great deal to them.

During her lesson today, one of my students was looking at the title of Beethoven's "Minuet and G," which has a quagmire of bowing issues (direction and distribution) for young players. She laughed, and said that she read the title as "Minuet in ADD." We talked about the problems that she was having with bow direction, and the problems she had with attention in general, and then we devised a game to iron them out.

We divided the melody into two groups: the up-bows and down-bows. She played the groups of notes that went up-bow, and I played the groups of notes that went down bow. The difficulty of this game is that while the up-bow person is playing, the down-bow person has to get her bow into a suitable place to play her next down-bow. This is especially tricky when a down-bow is followed immediately by an up bow, and it is fun to throw the notes back and forth, hocket-style.

After playing through the passage twice, we switched. I played the up-bow group of notes, and she played the down-bow group. I then asked her to play the whole thing herself, which she did correctly and easily.


Kathryn Rose said...

I have ADD but was only diagnosed in adulthood; I do wonder whether some of my childhood music teachers would have found me easier to teach if they had known!

Elaine Fine said...

I imagine that they would have! But I have found that many teachers (not music teachers, but classroom teachers) see it as an obstacle. It is in the one-on-one way of teaching that it inspires creative ways of solving problems, for both the student and the teacher.