The Fairview Violin Project

A Model for Culturally Relevant Music Instruction

Brenda Brenner & Lissa F. May Indiana University Jacobs School of Music


Pedagogical influences

  • Shinichi Suzuki
    • group instruction
    • rote approach
    • positive environment
    • modeling
    • correct repetitions
  • Paul Rolland
    • kinesthetic approach
    • physical manipulation for correct motions
    • spiral curriculum:  action studies
  • Mimi Zweig
    • sequence of repertoire
    • non-judgmental environment 

Theme 1: Behavior management is essential

Violin student

Culture shock
  • Lack of experience with early primary students
  • Lack of awareness and understanding of children’s home lives
  • Lack of discipline (children)
Disciplinary system
  • Strike system
    • Three strikes, you are out
    • Consequences:  violin taken away, note home to parent, security called – sent to principal
  • Points approach
    • Points given or taken away based on behavior
    • Various rewards offered – stickers, stamps, leadership role in class, free play with instruments

Theme 2: Positive reinforcement Gold Bow

Violin student

Theme 3: All students are capable of learning

  • Pacing instruction to accommodate everyone
  • Adapting equipment if necessary
  • Challenging bright students
  • Giving positive attention to non-problem children

Theme 4: Teacher behavior affects the learning process

  • Instructional pacing – stop talking, start teaching
  • Non-verbal instruction

Theme 5: Teachers are role models in every aspect of life

Violin students

  • Understanding of children’s home life
  • Communication with parents

Theme 6: Teaching is teamwork

  • Teachers viewed themselves as part of a team
    • With fellow instructors and mentors
  • Ideas shared and implemented
    • With children
  • Listening
  • Student led classes
  • Games
  • Who is learning from whom?

Theme 7: Building a human connection is the most important teaching tool

Violin students

  • Hugs
  • Love
  • Respect
  • Shared human experiences
  • Self-discipline
  • Self-esteem
  • Work ethic
  • Love of music

Looking into the future

  • Gain valuable experience in the real world
  • Gain cultural understanding
  • Learn beginning pedagogy
  • Gain inspiration for starting another program
  • Learn about themselves