For our lessons, we will be focusing more on "traditional" methods and a "modified" Suzuki method.
"Traditional" methods are considered any of the other kinds of methods that are not specifically labelled as the "Suzuki" Method.
Some examples of other kinds of methods are the "Essential Elements" method book, the "Paul Rolland" method, the "Mark O'Connor" method, the "Simon Fischer" method. These other method books usually has step by step instructions laid out in the book for the student to simply self-teach and build up to playing certain pieces of music or get to learning and practicing certain skills/techniques. Of course, this does not replace having a qualified private teacher to individually guide you.
The "traditional" method books are intended to be read and for you to decipher it along with help from an instructor if you have any questions. One of the differences between the "Suzuki" method and "traditional" methods is that the Suzuki method books don't really provide detailed instructions on how to self-teach, a trained Suzuki instructor is needed to properly guide the student in using the repertoire in the book. The Suzuki method focuses on children development. When it comes to very young children of say age 3 - they can't read yet!
One of the biggest differences between the Suzuki method and traditional methods is seen in how they respectively view talent. Whereas the Suzuki philosophy places the emphasis on the inherent ability within every child that can and will be developed given the proper environment, support, and teaching, the traditional methods point to those talented few for whom learning comes easily and knowledge seems to be innate. The Suzuki method places the priority on developing talented learners; traditional methods focus on finding the few who are already talented and developing them.
A "modified" Suzuki method means we will incorporate both Suzuki and other "traditional" methods. So it's not completely raw Suzuki format. There will be some components of the Suzuki method that won't be present in this "modified" Suzuki method, examples would be: lack of participation in group lessons or lack of parental involvement in lessons.
When it comes to children who are ages 10 and up, their early development has long been passed into the next stage of development. So these children will learn at a different rate than those who start off at the age of 3 with the Suzuki method.
Adult development is mostly already set. The brain is fully developed, and the biggest factor is that adults are in control of what they want or not want to do.
Adults have responsibilities that children don't! Like having a job, bills to pay, etc. For most adults, learning the violin may be just a hobby. And for those who have started as an adult and been playing for a while, continue it as a passion and more than just a hobby. Adults have the option of choosing when/what/how to practice and learn the violin. As a teacher, I can't force you to do something, I can only help suggest and guide you. It's up to you whether you want to take what I have to offer. For those who are open to soaking up everything I have to offer, the "modified" Suzuki method and traditional method combination works out great.
There is a little bit of a difference between teaching a child and an adult: the absorbing mind of a child compared to the inquiring mind of an adult.
As a child, learning an instrument is important for different reasons-discipline, coordination, mental acuity-but learning to play the violin as an adult can be a totally joyous experience! First of all, you, yourself, are choosing to learn to play. Nobody is making you take lessons or looking over your shoulder everyday to make sure that you are practicing. This means that you are more likely to really put your mind to it and really enjoy it!
Though there can be drawbacks as an adult! As we get older, we tend to have more preconceived notions about ourselves. Things like 'I'm smart, I pick up on things easily, so I should be able to learn this pretty quickly.' Or, conversely 'I'm smart, I pick up on things easily, so I must not be any good if I can't seem to do this right away!'
In truth, the more you can approach your lessons with a child-like mindset, the better off you will be. When a child comes to their lesson, most often they just listen to the teacher and do what they say. They don't berate themselves for picking up on it more slowly than they think they should, they don't sit there and try to figure out why the teacher tells them to do something a certain way, they just go home and do it. The whys and how comes happen later, if at all.
The other thing to realize is that playing the violin is awkward. No two ways about it. There is nothing else that you do in your daily life that can prepare you for holding the violin, holding the bow, or bowing with the proper motion. You will need to take some time to learn the mechanics of playing before you are able to really make music. This can be the most frustrating part of learning for an adult, but if you take your time, you will find that progress starts to happen very quickly at a certain point. And, once the pieces start to fall into place, it can be a very comfortable experience!
A lot of people ask how long it will be until they are able to play a certain song. This is one of the hardest questions to answer. It all depends on how open you are to doing things the way a teacher tells you, how much time you have to devote to practicing, and how dextrous you are initially. That doesn't mean that someone who is a bit stiffer with their fingers can't learn quickly, but that person would really have to be easier on him or herself to allow that to happen. I have had some students progress through the basics and play pieces in a matter of months, while with others it can take quite a bit longer than that. The important thing, however, is to notice the progress that is being made. After all, it is the journey, not the destination, right?
Once you feel a little more comfortable playing and feel that you have made some progress, there are usually a lot of different kinds of groups that you can find to play with. Most areas have at least one, if not several, community orchestras, most churches have music groups, as well as just finding people to play chamber music with. The possibilities really are limitless, and playing in a group can really help to bring you to the next level, and beyond. Plus, you will find more people like you than you realized were out there.
Above all, be patient with yourself. Learning the violin takes time, but with some practice, you will soon be able to play beautiful music!