Many kids will learn some music intrument growing up and parents often need to invest time to help them with practice. I became a Suzuki mom after my older son Aaron started playing the violin two years ago. He is making so much better progress than me, and it is hard for me to keep up, especially now that my younger son Alvin started playing too. So recently I looked around for some tools that will help kids improve their practice efficiency, and found some happy surprises.
First, on YouTube, there are recordings of almost any piece the kids are playing, either from master recordings or student performances, like this masterpiece which I can’t wait for Aaron to start learning soon.
Then, on this website, if you paste in the Youtube link, it can convert the music track in the YouTube video into an mp3 that you could download into your own computer. I store the downloaded mp3 music in my DropBox folder, so I can access the file from my computer, iPhone or iPad.
Finally, a friend found this tool called AnyTune, which you can download on Mac, iPhone or iPad (it costs a little $). It can import mp3 music from DropBox, then play it out. Now here is the magic! It can play the music at any speed or pitch you want!! There are other functions like looping certain sections, placing location marks to go back to, but I found the speed dial to be the most useful. So kids can listen to the music (or accompaniment) at their speed, which helps them learn new pieces, understand the best pitch, tempo, articulation, and contrast. Now Aaron can put on earphones and play Vivaldi alongside Perlman at his speed, and his improvement is amazing!
With the professional music track in place, my motivation to practice the piano accompaniment for Aaron’s violin pieces has greatly decreased. So maybe I should practice hard to play the Bach double violin concerto with Aaron.