Strings Inn - Suzuki Method in Child’s Every Day Life






Suzuki Method in Child’s Every Day Life


·         Musical Environment  

In order for the child to become successful in music, we must surround the child with classical music to create what Dr. Suzuki calls a ‘Musical Environment’. Music can be played to a child from high quality CD’s, the child should be taken to classical music concerts that are appropriate for the child’s age, the child should be able to observe music being practiced and performed by other people and the child should be encouraged to make friends with other children who play musical instruments. Without role models, environmental stimulus, classical music and an interest to continue practicing an instrument the child will not likely succeed. Dr. Suzuki said    “Man is a Son of His Environment”, which means, that if we raise a child in a musical environment, he will learn to like it and music will become a second mother tongue for him.


·         Early Start 

The most important years in laying a foundation for the child’s intellectual, emotional and sensomotoric developments are the years before age of 5 years old. Those are the prime years also for starting lessons. Although said that, it is never too late. We have seen even 70 years ‘young’ beginners becoming successful in violin through hard work.


·         Parental Involvement  

Parental involvement is very important. The Child-Teacher-Parent triangle forms a core workgroup in the Suzuki Method. The Parent’s role is to attend the lessons, take down notes from the lesson, to practice and follow through all of teachers’ instructions with the child at home. Sometimes it can happen that parents are not in a position to attend the lessons and practice with child at home. Any adult person that knows the child and has the time and energy, a grandparent, uncle or auntie or even a nanny can successfully fill that role and open doors to a wonderful world of classical music for the child who otherwise couldn’t do it.     


·         Observation Lessons 

New beginners are encouraged to come and observe other children’s lessons before starting their own lessons. The Observation Lesson period could last from few months up to a full academic year.  


·         Practice 

The first goal for a new Suzuki Parent is to try to establish a steady, daily practice routine with the child. Practice sessions do not have to be long in the beginning. Short regular practices done in a positive atmosphere are far more productive than long irregular practices done arguing and whining. Pleasure, fun and reward in music comes from accomplishment. There is no accomplishment without work. Therefore we simply have to learn a new habit during our first year of lessons; to practice every day. Dr. Suzuki said: “Only practice on the days you eat.”  Well balanced practice sessions, where all elements for success are met, is the second goal for a Suzuki Parent. Good practice session should include working on improving playing techniques and tone (‘Tonalization’), studying a new piece, repertoire review and at more advance level a sight reading practice. Advanced students might need to work also on a daily basis on their chamber music and orchestra materials. As the child grows and progresses, also the length of a practice sessions needs to grow in order for him to accomplish all the work. 


·         Build New Skills on Top of Old Skills 

Quality of the home practice is the most important factor in a process of creating ability and successful violin playing. The Teacher will spend 4-6 weeks with the parents before the private lessons begin, explaining ‘How to Practice at Home’ during Parent Orientation. Mastering playing techniques and songs following a step-by-step learning process, the teacher will guide the student to a path way, where we are building new skills on top of truly mastered old skills. Repetition in high numbers is a key to mastering these skills. By rushing through the pieces without learning the skills to do it right will never lead to success. Solid playing techniques and skills open doors to successful and fast progress. Suzuki students are requested to memorize and to keep up each piece. The Suzuki repertoire is also designed so, that each piece makes a new step and building block towards the next piece and next skill set. Therefore constant review is necessary.


·         Listening 

Children learn their own mother toque through listening and imitation. The same way Suzuki students learn their first book(s), by listening, watching and imitation. The most important listening recording for them is the Suzuki CD that should be played on a daily basis at home. If we want to teach classical music to our children, we should play a good variety of that frequently to our children. There is nothing wrong with pop music. The balance between pop music and classical music what we offer, just has to be right to send a correct message to the child about our own likes and dislikes. Just like, if we want our children to learn to speak fluent English and they hear us only speaking German or French, there is no way they would become fluent in English. We cannot expect them to learn to appreciate classical violin music or to become passionate about it, if they never hear it and if we don’t show that we like it.   


·         Group Lessons and Performances 

Group Lessons provide students an opportunity to get together with a teacher and other students of a same level ideally once a week, to study common repertoire, to review pieces together, to play musical games and to experience the social aspect of doing music. Parents are expected to follow their children also to group lessons. Group practices lead to group performances taking place a number of times through the year. These performances can be quite spectacular when tens and sometimes in the workshop situations hundreds of children join together to give a high energy performance. Good unison playing skills are necessary towards good orchestra playing.  


·         Individual Solo Performances 

Studio Solo Recitals and other public performances are a child’s opportunity to demonstrate his or her skills and progress. These performances are extremely important building blocks for strong self esteem. Nothing is as rewarding as a performance that goes really well after months of hard work and practice. We should never pressure a child to perform in a concert, if the child is not ready for that. Every effort should also be made by teachers, parents, friends and relatives not to turn these concerts into comparisons or competitions between children. We should instead turn these situations into celebrations of each and every child’s individual accomplishment under given circumstances.  Every student’s very best effort is what counts. Correct performance piece selection is very important in preparation towards the concert. Where a student and sometimes a parent may think that it is a good idea to pick the last piece learned to be performed, since they have recently worked most on that piece, teachers usually would suggest that it is not the best choice. We should never select a piece for a performance that is not fully “sunken in” and not carefully prepared.  Most accidents that students have in concerts, happen with pieces that have been most recently studied and memorized. Good preparation for a public performance is to organize a small home concert for the closest family members and friends in a very casual atmosphere.


·         Motivation and Positive Atmosphere 

Motivation factor is naturally built into the Suzuki Method when done right and when everything is in place in this puzzle. The biggest challenge that teachers and parents both face is to build a nurturing, positive and encouraging atmosphere when working with a child. This can be especially challenging for parents who have do their practices in the evening after long hours in their day jobs and when the whole family is tired. We should always remember the encouraging words of Dr. Suzuki “If Love is Deep Much Can be Accomplished”.