Early Suzuki beginnings

5 reasons to listen!

Listening to recordings sounds “so yesterday,”  “so old school.”

Why would I want my child or me to listen to classical music?  Why can’t we be like everybody else?  The reasons are the same for wanting  your child or you to learn to play one of the most challenging instruments.  If you have discovered that you are a Suzuki Family, you want the best.  You want what is admirable, noble, lovely, excellent and praiseworthy for you and your family.

Here are 5 reasons to listen to the Suzuki Music

  1. Listening is the foundation of the Suzuki Method. It’s the keystone.
  2. Listening is our ear training that we will be using to match our playing to.
  3. Listening allows us to play that internal song from memory that we try to copy on our instruments.
  4. Listening also allows students to discover and choose the notes for themselves, so the teacher can concentrate on the physical challenges that constitute the real difficulties of playing the violin.
  5. Suzuki music is beautiful music.  Suzuki said, if children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.

Ideas for Listening

  1. Listen first thing in the morning.*
  2. Play the music softly in the background during the day while the children play or you work.
  3. You can play it in the car.
  4. Have the means to play the music where you find it is most useful.  Playing on your iPhone or iPad or using Blue Tooth technology to send to a speaker is easy.
  5. Think about listening as something that will enhance your family life.  If you have young children or even babies, listening to good music can have cognitive benefits.  If you are listening for yourself, there isn’t a better earworm than a Suzuki song.


  • Nancy Lokken, a teacher trainer from Minneapolis, suggests that we do our listening first thing in the morning. This way, if something comes up later, and you cannot practice that day, you have at least done your listening. I recommend the same thing.  Why not play the music in the background during breakfast?  After all, listening can be passive. You can listen while doing homework, driving, preparing and eating dinner, or during any other routine in your and your child’s day.

What should a Pre-twinkler Listen to?

For the beginning period, the pre-twinkle period, I recommend that parents and students listen to the following from the Book 1 Violin CD:

Twinkle Variation A (track 1) 10x
Twinkle Theme (track 6) 10x
Lightly Row (track 7) 1x
Song of the Wind (track 8) 1x
GO Tell Aunt Rody (track 9) 1x
Oh, Come Little Children (track 10) 1x

Make a CD or playlist of the above to listen every day.

10 times for the Twinkle songs

1 time each for the others.

It should take about 18 minutes to complete.

The above routine gives the children the fundamentals of the song that will occupy them for about a year– Twinkle Variation A (Mississippi Hot Dog). Listening to the other songs on that list shows them, that if they work patiently and diligently for a year, they will be playing those other songs– no problem!  Listening to the other songs gives them a taste of what is to come and prepares them to play those songs.  I might change this as the months go on, but this is the foundational idea for pre-twinkle listening.


Your Child Will Not Get Tired of the Songs

While you may tire of listening to Book 1, your child will not.  Children love repetition.  Remember how many times you played Candy Land when you were little?  It is really important that you do not let on to your child that you have tired of the music in Book 1.

However, if you want variation, listen to the Book 4 CD on occasion. It is full of professional music. The Vivaldi Concertos are wonderful and the Bach Double Concerto is unmatched in compositional skill. Listening to it is a music lesson in itself. Always keep in mind that you will return to the pre-twinkle listening list.

Music for After Pre-twinkle

As we add the skills necessary to play the first few songs, and as we go further into Book 1 and Books 2 and 3, we can adopt a different listening routine.

I recommend about 20 minutes. I follow a 5 -10 -5 formula:

1) 5 minutes. The piece you are “polishing.” A polishing piece is the piece for which the notes are learned but which the student is continuing to make easy by conscientious repetition. Repeat this song on the CD or Playlist for about 5 minutes. Depending on which Book you are in, this might mean 5 repetitions or 2 repetitions.

2) 10 minutes: The next song on the playlist is the current piece for which we are learning new skills. This is the big one. Listen to it for 10 minutes. Again, if you are in Book 3, this might be 2 or 3 repetitions. If you are in Book 1, it might mean 10 repetitions.

3) 5 minutes: The final song is the one you are not on yet. You are creating a mental picture of it so you will be ready when we start it. Listen to it for 5 minutes.

A good place to get the recordings is Violinist.com.

“To make a resolution and act accordingly is to live with hope…follow the path steadily. Do not hurry. This is a fundamental rule. If you hurry and collapse or tumble down, nothing is achieved. DO not rest in your efforts; this is another fundamental rule. Without stopping, without haste, carefully taking a step at a time forward will surely get you there.” Shinichi Suzuki


Music Mind Games

Let the Games Begin! Music Mind Games, that is.

Music Mind Games Unit 2 Training Begins Today


music mind games


Busy week ahead!  Music Mind Games, created by Michiko Yurko, teach music theory and literacy.   I am looking forward to Unit 2 training with her this week which “includes 30 teacher training hours and instruction on more than 70 games with a refresher of Unit 1 games and Classic Games. Games are from Second Steps.” The games involve all the senses: visual, oral, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile.

In the photo, the child is playing the Fat Snake which teaches the ascending musical alphabet to young students.  Using another game, Blue Jello cards, my students understand rhythm very quickly; they see, feel, and hear rhythm as note groups, not individual notes and rests. Do Re Mi cards can be used for dictation patterns. Here are videos of other Music Mind Games.  In the game Five Hiding, the child knows all the values of the notes on the cards for this matching game.   Some other games demonstrated on this page are Snake and Suspense.

My students are able to learn music theory in a fun atmosphere during our weekly group classes.  Some games are easy, but others are quite challenging for the older crowd.  Yet, each group finds a “game setting” a fun way to learn important concepts.

Perhaps a child who is fussed over gets a feeling of destiny; he thinks he is in the world for something important and it gives him drive and confidence.  Dr Benjamin Spock

July 4th–Celebrate!

PBS Celebrates in DC at The Capitol with “A Capitol Fourth”

Fun with the kids!

Here’s a Just for Kids Quiz for the 4th of July from PBS.

Other activities on this page: Alexander Hamilton Quiz, American History Quiz, Fourth of July Coloring Pages, and A Capitol Fourth Poster.

And for everyone’s pleasure,

watch and listen to Kermit and Miss Piggy singing “This Land is Your Land”!

“Those who won our independence believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty.” ~Louis D. Brandeis


Photo credit: shino 誌野 / Foter / CC BY