The Parent's Page - Home, Lesson, Group
An Outline of Activities and Commitment
As a parent you own the precious responsibility of creating an environment that fosters your child's development of talent, skill, discipline, expressiveness, and joy. It is our commitment to assist you in this endeavor.
The success of Shinichi Suzuki's "Mother Tongue Approach" to music learning, modeled after native-language learning, depends heavily on the quantity and quality of a students listening activities. Immersed in the following four indispensable elements of a stimulating listening environment, a young student rapidly develops his/her musical "vocabulary" and maintains a strong motivation to communicate in the language" of classical music.
Daily saturation in the Suzuki repertoire recordings accelerates the students mastery of the repertoire and inspires the child to progress further. Parents should purchase the recordings by David Cerone or William Preucil Jr., or the CD that comes with the Suzuki Book.
Recordings: Your private lesson teacher will assign "special listening" of non-Suzuki recordings each week.
Broadcasts: By tuning in to broadcasts, you can surround your child with classical music in the home or vehicle. On television, PBS occasionally broadcasts classical concerts. On the radio, two local FM stations continually play classical music: WETA 90.9 FM
Classical concerts abound in the Metropolitan area. Many concerts are advertised in the newspapers, on the Internet, or on the classical radio stations listed above. Institutions such as the George Mason University, University of Maryland at College Park, the Peabody Conservatory, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and other metropolitan areas provide excellent opportunities to observe everything from graduate student recitals to world-class ensembles and soloists - sometimes at no charge.
OBSERVATION OF OTHER SUZUKI STUDENTS
The families enrolled in our program form a community in which multiple students and parents can simultaneously glean knowledge and inspiration from a teacher and from each other. Two basic settings foster this community:
Group Classes provide the opportunity for the enrollees not only to participate in their own classes, but also to observe more advanced students.
Despite their misleading name, "private" lessons can provide public benefits. Dr. Suzuki was reportedly shocked to discover an American teacher giving a private lesson in the presence of only one student and one parent. Observers multiply the fruitfulness of a lesson.
A parent must accompany a child participating in any of the following activities except parent meetings:
Enrollment in the program requires a significant commitment of time and care. Committed families value their precious investment in the child's musical development. Generally, a beginner requires two or three daily practice sessions of 10-15 minutes each. As the student progresses, daily practice time increases according to the following minimum schedule:
Book 1: 30 minutes for a minimum of 6 days a week
Books 2-3: 45 minutes for a minimum of 6 days a week
Books 4-5: 60 minutes for a minimum of 6 days a week
Books 6 and above: 90 minutes for a minimum of 6 days a week
Students not willing to meet these basic practice requirements should not apply for matriculation in this program. In reality, for a child in book 6 or above who really wishes to be proficient or is looking for a professional career, 2-5 hours of practice a day would be a more appropriate target practice amount.
Scheduled group classes are usually held weeks before a recital for preparation. Participation in group-classes is one of the most vital parts of the students' development. Students are expected to attend and parents are expected to see to it that group materials are followed up on at home practice every week. Too often, important information that could be mastered in one week is flippantly approached at home, and the student consequently takes months to accomplish simple tasks, thereby slowing down the progress of the group. Please see to it that your child is not the "weakest link."
PRIVATE LESSONS AND NOTE TAKING
In private lessons, your child receives the individualized instruction so crucial to his/her development. Lesson scheduling is arranged directly between you and your teacher.
Unless the student is a very advanced violinist, it is expected of the parent to be present (both physically and mentally!) and to take detailed notes at every lesson. Often, your child and I are working too quickly to mark things down "on the fly." You need to keep a detailed list of what was covered so that the week's practice can be profitable. When your child comes for the next week's lesson, please be prepared to tell me what we covered in the previous week and how you and your child fared at home.
Siblings are highly encouraged at lessons, but the expectation is that they will not be distracting either you or the student during the lesson. If they are attempting to speak to you, please quiet them quickly and train them to sit and listen. Please do not begin or maintain conversations with them. Such activity conveys a lack of interest to both the student and to me, and the week's practice will suffer - guaranteed!
Periodically the students of the program share their music with friends and family in a public, formal concert. After an exciting program of solo and group performances, students celebrate with their guests.
Occasionally, we will have parent meetings at which we can discuss issues relating to your child's education. These meetings are very beneficial and are included in your lesson fee.
Suzuki students worldwide form a special community of children and parents who share a commitment to similar musical goals and philosophies and who play the identical beginning repertoire. The Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA) and the Suzuki Association of the Greater Washington Area (SAGWA) host occasional regional events that allow your child to join a large group of Suzuki students in performances and classes.
You and other parents sitting right next to you in group class may be able to exchange a wealth of wisdom on issues such as home practice, instrument purchases and concert attendance.