Parents play a crucial role in creating the best environment for the child to thrive. They attend lessons and act as “home teacher” during the week by helping the student work on the materials assigned at the lesson.
Babies develop hearing around week 18 of pregnancy and by the 6th or 7th month of pregnancy are able to hear sounds outside of the womb. By the time they are born, babies have developed the capacity to hear at the same level or better than an adult. One can never start too early to develop the musical ear of a baby. As to when to start a child on the instrument, it is rarely too early for the child and many children are ready by 3 or 4 years of age. (Whether or not the parent is ready, is a completely different question!)
Suzuki capitalizes upon the ability to play recordings of great musicians in order to train the child’s musical ear to learn music as though it were their “mother tongue” and one of the single most important aspects of musical training, no matter what the age of the student, is ear training. The more listening to the recordings one can do, generally the better the ear develops. This makes for happier (and generally faster) progress in learning an instrument. Listening is a daily requirement.
The Suzuki repertoire utilizes daily repetition and polishing of songs not only to create a repertoire for the student to share and play for and with others, but also to create a solid foundation of technique. Each song learned and polished helps prepare the student to be able to play songs at higher and higher levels of playing and performance. In other words, the student does not learn the Twinkles for the sake of learning the Twinkles, but rather to become fluent in the technique needed to play a Vivaldi concerto or Beethoven sonata.
In addition to their private lessons, students participate in group classes which help them learn how to watch, listen, play and interact in group settings. Groups also help inspire, provide motivation, and develop self-confidence. Less advanced students benefit from watching and being inspired by more advanced students and more advanced students are given opportunities to be leaders and models for the less advanced students.
From my perspective, studying music isn’t for the sole purpose of becoming a musician: we are all musicians at heart! Some of my previous students are now professional or in the process of becoming professional musicians; however, most have gone on to study math, science, computer science, engineering, law, medicine, ancient languages, religion, etc. Music helps teach us the discipline we need to pursue any dream. It provides us with joy as we realize the fruits of our labors, gives expression to our thoughts, and helps us creatively solve problems. Most importantly, though, music develops the brain in ways that nothing else does and allows us to connect to friend and foe alike, by sharing a uniquely human bond.My background as a musician comes from growing up with an older brother who was an amazing trumpet player. My earliest memories involve tinkering around on the piano and climbing up high in the closet where my parents kept their 8-tracks. I took piano lessons early on and started violin in a school orchestra program, eventually going on to get a degree in music theory and composition. My passion has led me from teaching strings in the depths of inner-city USA to teaching language and culture through songs and music in a couple of the top schools in China, from busking on the street corners with friends to accompanying students at a local women’s shelter. I have pursued my curiosity in pedagogy by observing other teachers and training with some of the top pedagogues in the country, not to mention putting my theories into practice by teaching and home-schooling my own children.