Updated: Sep 25, 2019
This is the 3rd section of a 5-part series outlining Shinichi Suzuki's "Conditions for Developing Great Ability" from Chapter 2 of his book Ability Development from Age Zero. If you would like to listen to the Intro, you can hear it here.
The third condition is to use the finest teaching method— I think this is the best time to point out that Suzuki method is such a wonderful philosophy and method! It is supported by an incredible community whose wealth in information and experience have brought up some of the world’s finest musicians and people. But just because I think so doesn’t mean you have to think so. I believe that Suzuki method is for anybody and everybody who will adopt the philosophy and use the resources. It is also true that not everyone is a good fit, for a number of reasons. One of the biggest deterrents for some people is the high level of parental involvement and participation in the lessons. If you want to use music lessons as an expensive alternative to babysitting, Suzuki Method won’t work for you. Parents come to the lesson to offer support to the student by taking detailed notes and studying the information and approach offered by the teacher. Then, when at home, the parent takes on the role of Home Teacher, reproducing the points made in the lesson. For this reason, parents who want to drop off their kids (who aren’t of the age and maturity to be independent in the lesson) should consider another approach.
While it may not be convenient for every family, the value I see offered to families who use Suzuki Method is quite palpable-- There is a noticeable richness in the bond and relationship between parent and child. They’ve dedicated a ton of time working through the perspiration, frustrations, and lack of motivation that all young musicians and parents can experience. They’ve also celebrated accomplishments of successful performances, sweet moments of acknowledgment and gratitude in their lessons, and the victory that comes with finally conquering a technique or polishing that working piece to a whole new level of skill and mastery! The key is, through the ups and downs, they’ve journeyed together. What a wonderful experience for parents and children to share!
The Suzuki method fosters healthy interpersonal relationships between educators and students, educators and parents, and parents and students. It also reveals its holistic nature by the phenomenon in the Suzuki studio known as group class. Yes, this is the opportunity for students to come together and enjoy their instruments in a social context, playing musical games, sharing their hard-earned skills as a team, and trying new things in the safety of a group setting. There’s even a little healthy competition amongst peers that many children find extremely motivating! However, we should not underestimate how valuable group class can be for parents, as well. Parents should seize the opportunity that group class offers to exchange ideas, form and strengthen friendships, offer support to one another, and bond over the amazing journey they are all on with their children. While teachers can offer their studio parents great information and a certain experienced perspective, there’s nothing quite like experiencing that empathy from another studio parent who also struggles with carving out enough consistent practice time or who can relate to the complete chaos that is the family schedule, schlepping this child from this lesson to that game and that child from that practice to this extracurricular class or lesson. Having a cohesive studio community that collaborates, creates, commiserates, and celebrates together is such a huge asset to everyone in the studio!
This phenomenon translates beyond the immediate Suzuki community experience. While there are many ways outside of the Suzuki experience that can show your child the purpose and value of community, there is something so wonderful and human about gathering together to learn and to share about music. Social context provides your child with awareness and the realization that inspiring and incredible things can transpire with more ease and confidence than what is possible alone. We are better together than apart.
Rachel is passionate about applying the legacy of Shinichi Suzuki in her teaching, and strives to deliver to parents the necessary tools to help their children succeed. Rachel and her husband Neil Fong Gilfillan operate Chili Dog Strings in Frisco TX.
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