5 Steps to Success as a Suzuki Parent
- Practice, practice, practice! Practice every day you do not have a lesson. On days when you’re so busy and there just isn’t time, take the violin out and play Twinkle. Play Allegro. Play one song. Do one exercise. At least the fingers and the hands get a reminder of their assigned tasks! In addition, practice is not a “chore”. Practice should be fun! Be creative- draw numbers out of a hat for which practice element to do first, practice in the bathroom one day with the lights off, practice outside, have an impromptu performance with the family. It is critical to understand that good practice comes from the parent at first, not the student. The parent has to be interested, excited, involved- the student learns these attitudes over time. Celebrate even the smallest effort and the tiniest improvement and your student will amaze you with their growth! Finally, it is your job as the parent to make sure practice happens. Even though your student should be responsible for practice as well, there will be days when your student does not want to practice, and it is your job to make sure they do. There is one exception: you do not have to practice on days you do not eat.
- Attend your students lessons, mentally as well as physically. Do not bring a book, please do not use your phone, do not take an eyes-open nap: come, pay attention, applaud (yes, clap!), take notes, ask questions (at the appropriate time). As much as all parents need a break, your students’ private lesson is not that time. If your student sees that you are involved, they will be more focused and more excited. That being said, remember that even for older students it’s important to only have one teacher at a time- please restrain yourself from correcting your student during a lesson, even if you worked so hard on the bow-hand at home and now that thumb is flat again! They need you to be their cheerleaders during lessons, and one teacher at a time is enough.
- Bring your student to group. It’s sometimes difficult to see the value in group. After all, we’re just playing the same songs, playing games, and it’s another day of the week that everyone has to get in and out of the car with the violin. However, there are many skills that simply are not attainable in solo playing. The development of a good ear, the ability to play at a consistent speed, dynamic appreciation, and many other skills are easiest to develop if you play in a group. Group is so much fun, gives your violinist the opportunity to meet other violinists, is included in your monthly tuition, and students are expected to attend.
- Celebrate your violinist. This is critical. Even though it is the 100th time you’ve heard Lightly Row and it’s driving you crazy today, clap and smile and tell your student their long bows were excellent, or their tone was lovely, or their fingers did a great job. Children need our encouragement to learn new things. Recall your excitement when they said mama the first time, and the tenth time, and the 100th time and try to reproduce that excitement each time you hear Lightly Row or any other song- this is the basis of human learning!
- Listen to classical music and to our recordings. Listen to music in the car, in the house, while you’re cleaning, while you’re eating. Listening to classical music is not an “activity” i.e. “Let’s sit down and listen to music”. Instead, music should simply be part of your family environment. The more your student hears the recordings and other classical music, the more successful they will be as violinists and musicians. Remember how many times they heard the word “mama” before they began to experiment with it- they should hear Perpetual Motion dozens of times before they begin playing it and they will play it excellently! Even more, they should hear advanced music played excellently to inspire and motivate them.