Note-taking–in almost any context–is one of those activities that seems quite simple in theory. Most adults have been asked to take notes throughout their lives: in classes at school, in meetings at work, in completing errands and writing reminders at home. All of us are attached to our phones, so even in the absence of pen and paper, we are equipped with tools to record information.
In practice, effective note-taking can be more complicated. In real time it can be challenging to discern the most important details and write in a manner that will be comprehensible to you (or another person) at a later date. Moreover, sometimes note-taking feels at odds with actual engagement. Is it possible to process information and document information at once?
At Silver Music, we ask parents to attend lessons and take notes. Most of our students are learning the Suzuki method which specifically outlines the teacher, parent, student relationship and stresses the value of the parent taking notes to enable them to guide the practice sessions at home. Most of our parents are not musicians so the information they receive in the lesson may be completely new to them and at times, likely overwhelming.
To our Silver Music Parents:
Having a strategy for taking notes will allow you to feel present at the lesson and reliable to your future-self during the week as you attempt to reiterate points from the lesson during your child’s practice. Below are two articles that outline plans for taking notes, and we’ve pulled a few quotes that are particularly helpful to keep in mind.
How to Take Notes by Alan Duncan, parent of a Suzuki violin student
-“Sit in a spot in the studio where you have a good view of both your child and the teacher. In a way you’re physically modeling the “Suzuki triangle” of teacher-student-parent, right? The more aware you are as an observer, the more useful information you will take home.”
-“Your teacher has a plan for the lesson; and more likely than not, it unfolds in pretty much the same way each week. You can make your work of note-taking easier by coming up with a sheet with headings that mirror the same structure.” (For example: Tonalization, Review, New Repertoire, Other)
-“The assignments should be easy to identify during the lesson. As a dutiful parent, your ears will perk up when you hear “This week, I’d like you to…” This is your cue to pay close attention. What measure? How many times? What does a successful repetition look like? If it’s not clear ask for clarification at an opportune moment.”
Note Taking Strategy by Michelle Drake, parent of a Suzuki guitar student
This article recommends photocopying the music beforehand to allow you to write directly on the child’s music while taking notes. The comments on this article may also speak to you as there are further suggestions and advice from other parents.
Feel free to video-record parts of your lesson too. (It can be daunting to have to only dictate instructions for an aural art form!) Your child’s teacher may have additional helpful advice for taking notes too, and we would of course love to hear from our parent community about other tips and tricks for recording info from each lesson. Feel free to comment below!