Can I just try it for a while and see whether my child likes it?

Yes, you can of course!

But learning music is a long-term commitment. To get the most out of it requires regular practice. The children I have worked with have all been glad that they can play music. I know from talking to their parents however, that very few would have had the self-motivation to continue without the persistence given by their parents. Most parents question whether it is good to “make” the child practice even if they don’t want to. My response to this is that as parents you have the responsibility of deciding what is important for your child and what isn’t. I suggest that you think of your child’s music practice as similar to brushing their teeth. Both should happen regularly. They should not be unpleasant experiences and I suggest that you as parent are gently persistent about getting music practice done in the same way that you are with the child brushing their teeth. Your adult brain can see the long-term benefit of activities that your child’s young brain cannot see.

How is the Suzuki method different from traditional lessons?

Some of the main differences between the Suzuki method and the traditional method of learning are that in Suzuki method:

- Children learn their new pieces entirely by ear and by memory with no music reading (at least in the beginning)
- Parents are an integral part of the teaching/learning
- ”Practice” is split into 2 parts: review (of pieces that have already been learned) and learning/practice (learning new pieces and practicing posture, tone, etc)
- In traditional method, it is usually hard for a young child to get started because the initial steps required are quite large. In Suzuki method, the “steps” involved in learning to play are designed so that they they can be made very small. This enables very young children to experience success and achievement.

What are the advantages of starting early when it seems so much easier to wait till my child is a bit older and more independent?

The younger the child, the more likely they are to develop a good musical “ear”. Children learn differently to adults. Under about age 7 years, the child learn like a sponge, by watching and by doing, not by thinking. Things that are learnt at this early age go in very deeply and stay with the child for life. Their body really grows with their instrument. They usually look very natural when playing and usually develop a very good ear for music. At this age they are really learning music as a first language, by imitating what they see and hear (the true “mother-tongue” method).

As adults we can still learn music (it is never to late to learn!) but we learn by thinking and analysing more. This is more akin to learning music as a second language. Older children (about age 7-13yrs) learn using a combination of the childlike “sponge” method and the more mature analytical method.

With a very young child, progress in terms of playing music will probably be quite slow initially because the child will be working on increasing their concentration, fine motor skills and the development of the many skills required to play their instrument. It can take a few months before a young child plays a “piece”.

Given the limitations, you might ask why bother to start children when they are very young (preschool)? Some reasons are:

• Young children learn very deeply and very naturally. They are not selective and for better or for worse they imitate everything they are exposed to. Children who start music young “grow with” their instrument and it becomes a part of them.
• Young children are usually very keen to please their parents, which works to our advantage 🙂
• Because they start young, even though they learn slowly at the beginning, once they get going they are usually quite skilled at their instrument for their age and this can be motivating in itself. It can give the child the feeling that they are quite good at music, so they are more likely to want to continue later.

Is my pre-schooler ready?

These website lessons are intended to enable parents to teach music to their young children at home. The Prep Course for Young Children is aimed at parents of 3-6 year olds.

When considering whether your child (and you) are ready for these music lessons, consider whether your child will engage and interact with you as a teacher figure for short blocks of time. Also consider whether you have the time and motivation to practice with your child (almost) every day helping them to develop the many skills required to play a musical instrument.

If you decide that your child (or you) are not quite ready, then the best preparation is for your child to attend a general preschool group music class. If you inquire at local churches or music centers you will probably find one.

How often should we listen to the CD?

The child should listen to the CD every day, preferably for a few hours a day. This might sound like a lot but it is trying to imitate the immersion a child gets in language in the first few years of life. Before the child learn to talk, they are surrounded by the sound of people talking, most of the time. The child does not need to sit and listen to the Suzuki CD. Like the background chatter of voices, it just needs to be playing quietly while they go about their day.

Is Suzuki right for my child?

Suzuki lessons might not suit everyone …

Suzuki lessons require a greater time commitment from the parents. It is essential to the success of the method that the Suzuki CD is played frequently. It should be played in the background every day to replicate the way that babies are surrounded by language almost constantly. Parents attend all the child's individual lessons and take notes on what needs to be practiced. Parents then practice at home with the child every day. I believe that this time commitment results in more enjoyment and progress for the child, but it will not suit parents who do not have this time available.

Do Suzuki lessons include learning to read music?

Yes, but …

When children are learning to speak their mother tongue they are not expected to learn to read words at the same time they learn to speak them. It is accepted that babies learn to talk first, then learn reading much later when their eyes and analytical skills are more developed. Trying to learn to read music at the same time as learning to play would slow young children down. For this reason music reading is taught separately from playing.

What pieces do the children learn?

The Suzuki books contain a set repertoire of mostly classical pieces for each instrument. All Suzuki students start by learning these same pieces. The first piece on both piano and violin is "Twinkle, twinkle little star". Later, when the student can read music they can also learn pieces from outside the Suzuki repertoire. Because they all learn the same pieces, Suzuki students can play together in groups easily using these common pieces.

At what age does Suzuki stop?

Suzuki method never exactly 'stops', Suzuki method is just a different way to start. As the student gets older and becomes better at reading music, the printed music is used more at lessons. The differences between Suzuki and traditional lessons then become smaller. The student also begins playing not just 'Suzuki' pieces but any other pieces that take their fancy. The advantage of having started by the Suzuki method is an emphasis on listening and on the love of music.

What internet speed do I need? What devices can I use?

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