You are the single most important factor in
determining your child’s likelihood of success.
Though some percentage of children may go on to succeed with an instrument without significant parental involvement, such cases are relatively rare, and they do so in spite of, not because of, the parents’ limited level of commitment. We want every child to have in place all the supports necessary to succeed. Hence, before joining the program, we urge every parent to make the following commitments to his/her child.
My child will study the instrument for at least a year.
Every child has peaks and troughs in his/her level of enthusiasm. If we enter the process without a predefined commitment to stick with it, we’re setting the child up for failure. If on the other hand, we can get the child through that first year, there are two important outcomes:
First, students will have had ample opportunity to experience success with the instrument. Hence, even if they do quit, they won’t leave feeling as though they’ve failed.
Second, kids love to do what they’re good at. As a consequence, when they get to that one-year mark, they rarely want to quit. They see the results of their efforts, have developed a sense of community within the studio, and are willing to do whatever it takes to continue studying.
I will attend, and take copious notes, at all of my child’s lessons and group classes.
The teacher sees the child once or twice a week. You’ll be practicing with him/her almost every day. In order to be effective in your role as “home coach,” you must collect and organize all the information disseminated at lessons, and be able to feed that back to the child during practice sessions.
I will practice with my child at least five times a week.
You can’t learn Japanese by studying it once a week. Research has consistently shown that five short practice sessions are far better than two long ones. Success breeds success. If children consistently come to lessons prepared, they will feel successful. When they feel successful, lessons and practice sessions will be fun. When practice is fun, they practice more. When they practice more, they do better, etc., etc. Once this cycle is started, they quickly learn to love the study of music.
I will do everything I can to make home practice sessions fun and exciting.
Once again, the parent is the lynch pin. We’ll give you all the tools you’ll need to make practice something your child will look forward to. It’ll be up to you to put them to use.
I will work with my child to continually maintain, refine and polish review repertoire.
Repetition, repetition, repetition! Unlike the old adage, “We’re gonna do this ’til we get it right!” the Suzuki Method suggests that real practice doesn’t even begin until after we’ve already gotten it right. Think of the process in three discrete phases, each requiring a deeper level of understanding. They are: a) finding and memorizing the notes of a piece, b) mastery with the instrument, and c) mastering of the music. Shinichi Suzuki once said “Learn to play with a piece you already know.” In other words, in order to master the instrument, and music, you must constantly strive to perfect music you already know how to play.
My child will listen to the Suzuki Guitar CDs daily.
As with language, kids learn music best when they’re immersed in it. Hence, a cornerstone of the Method is that a child will listen to a quality recording of the music he/she is about to learn, many, many times before attempting to play it.
We will attend at least four group classes each quarter.
This commitment is not only important to your child’s musical development, it also has implications for the other kids in his/her group. Imagine the goalie on a youth soccer team only showing up for two of this season’s ten games. The goalie’s absences would not only affect the goalie, it would affect his/her team mates as well. The group classes are a centerpiece of the Suzuki Method. In them, kids learn to play music in a group, to lead and follow a leader, develop a social context for their music and play lots of games that make the study of an instrument fun. If only one or two kids show up for a class, many of the advantages of the group setting are lost.