Suzuki student

Suzuki Parents’ Need to Know List:

Suzkui parents can support

How rewarding it is for parents to watch the children grow and develop, learning a skill that seems beyond their reach.   Suzuki parents know that “nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy.”*

Suzuki teachers work hard to teach children to play one of the most difficult instruments; parents work hard to learn the skills they need to aid their children on the journey; and children learn that hard work has its own rewards.

Support for Parents

Parent training classes give parents knowledge and the specific skills they will need to support their child as he/she learns to play the violin. However, once in a while, parents need to be reminded that the path they’ve chosen is a worthy one; they need to know that they are doing it right.

Group class is a good opportunity for parents to support each other.

Calling an experienced Suzuki parent can really help.

Talking to an experienced Suzuki parent before or after class gives the new parent just the tips he/she may be looking for.

Suzuki Method Parent Discussion Group on Facebook, is a good place for parents to ask questions about all things Suzuki.

Another good source for parents is a post by Brecklyn Ferrin who is a mother and Suzuki violin teacher. She shares what she has learned from both sides of the bow.   Click here to read her “Top 7 Things Your Suzuki Violin Teacher Wants You to Know.”

Learning to play the violin is one of the most challenging as well as one of the most rewarding activities a child (or adult) can undertake.  Imagine the human physical structures that must work together to create beautiful music from this instrument.  Suzuki believed that we can create a beautiful human spirit also through learning to play the violin.  But it does take a parent who shares the same vision.


“If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges….” Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

 

*Nicholas Sparks, American novelist, screenwriter and producer.

I love to practice!

Who wouldn’t want to hear those words?  Gone are the days of banishing a child to his or her room to practice!  Today’s parents are more involved with their children.  Ask a parent and he or she will say that they want to be part of the progress, part of the joy of seeing their child develop.

If parents can make practice as enjoyable as possible so that their child sees progress,  that child will learn so many life lessons.  Starting early in their life, they can experience the rewards of perseverance, self-discipline, goal-setting, delayed gratification, patience.

The following ideas from the Suzuki Association of America will help keep parents motivated, helping to give their child the best experience possible.   According to Suzuki,  very young children should “practice three minutes, five times a day, with joy.”  When put that way, who couldn’t plan for that?  Of course, as the years progress, you will have other tricks at the ready to keep your child’s eye on the prize.

practice

Practice ideas from the Suzuki Association

The main point of practice is spending time with your child with joy!

Be consistent.  Some find 10 minutes before school is the perfect time.

Use the expression, in our family.  “In our family we practice every day.”  “This is what we do in our family.”

Don’t worry about perfection.  We want our children to learn that life isn’t about doing things perfectly, but about trying new things and embracing challenge.

Practice time doesn’t have to be measured in minutes.  You can teach your child that reaching a goal accomplishes the task.

Suzuki wisdom of learning is encompassed in his saying: “Move slowly and never stop.”  Make the goal reachable and stop before the child is ready to stop.  He’ll want to start up again the next day. He won’t stop.

Lengthen practice time gradually as the child gains strength and stamina and as more concepts are added.

Click here for the “rest of the [practice] story”!


“Any child can be developed.  It depends on how you do it.”  Shinichi Suzuki

Read Across America Day!

Why is March 2 “Read Across America Day”?

The National Education Association wants everyone to celebrate Read Across America Day on Dr. Seuss’s birthday, March 2!

Furthermore, the entire month of March is National Reading Month.  Here are some ideas to celebrate this month with your children.

Have your child read aloud to you for 15 minutes every day in March.
YOU can read to your child for 15 minutes every day in March.
You and your child can set aside time to read your own books silently as you sit side-by-side this month.
Visit your public library with your children this month.
You and & child make a chart to fill in each book he or she completed during March.
If your child knows how to read, have the child read to an older person this month.

Click here for more ideas.

Consider also that research has proven that a young child’s verbal skills are enhanced by taking music instrument lessons. Here is my blog on “Rhythm and Language Skills.”  In this blog, I refer to Dr. Jessica Love who says “If you want your baby to have a real shot in life, there’d better be a violin in her hands before she’s three….”

There are many studies available on the benefits of early music lessons and language development.  Simply search for music lessons and language development research.

Thinking about kindergarten?  Click here for my blog on the role of music lessons in, “The Best Way to Get Your Child Ready for Kindergarten.”


“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss

 

Photo credit: Clip Art Panda

Baby Eli, is Suzuki for you too?

You betcha!

Newborns eyes look all around when they first begin to perceive the world.  They almost seem to be squinting to figure out what they are sensing.  They turn their heads to a new sound and seem to focus for a bit.  One way to soothe a crying baby…when humming or singing doesn’t seem to be doing the job… turn on the radio!  The baby may be distracted enough to settle into a relaxing snooze. Suzuki would have not been surprised at that.

Infants Are Like Seedlings

A baby’s brain doubles in size the first year, and by age 3 its brain is 80 % of its adult volume. To take advantage of that stage of development, Suzuki said that infants are like seedlings. He said we wouldn’t let a sprout whither and then give it a lot of fertilizer, sunlight, and water, thinking that is the right time to grow. It’s too late for the withered sprout. Likewise, we don’t set babies and toddlers aside until they enter kindergarten, saying, “That’s when education begins.”

Suzuki said you can’t expect a bumper crop when you plant nothing. What you will get will be whatever seeds happen to land in the field. Don’t leave education up to chance. If you do, you won’t get what you hoped for.

Plant early enough in the season! Suzuki told a story about Darwin who was asked by a mother when she should start educating her one and a half year-old son. Darwin told her she was a year and a half too late.

Immersion

Suzuki observed how children learn by watching the way babies learned to talk.  They seem to learn to speak almost overnight once they begin. He says a young baby learns one word at first, which is repeated by the adults around him or her. Then later another word is added, but the first word is not dropped. He based his teaching Method on the way a baby learns language. Listening! He says to start with listening to music. Immerse the infant with good music.

Very, Very Early Suzuki Training!

Start your Suzuki training from the time of birth. Not because you want your child to be an Einstein. But because you really do know it is the right thing to do. Surround the infant with good music. Since infants hear and absorb the sounds of their environment, play good music softly in the background. Play it at home and in the car. Learning to play violin, for a baby, is simply listening to music.

EFD

Violin hands?

From birth to age 3 is the best time to develop an ear for music. Play one piece repeatedly during the day. The music should be played softly. Just loud enough to know it is on. Suzuki says that if you play a five-minute piece of Mozart, for example, every day, by the age of 5 months, the baby has learned it.

Suzuki’s experiment: After listening to the same piece for 5 months, play a different piece of music for the baby; then switch to the familiar piece. Observe the baby’s response. For the 1st piece, the baby will listen intently and his or her eyes will be absorbed. As soon as the music switches to the familiar piece, the baby will smile, look for his mother, and may even shake his or her body to the rhythm of the old piece.  Suzuki says the piece has become the baby’s music—a comfort.

Eventually add more pieces, one at a time. The result is “a heightened musical sensitivity” similar to that of the acquisition of language.

Choose Beautiful Music

Select beautiful music from the European masters. It has sophistication and intricacy which appeals to children. You wouldn’t put off looking at beautiful masterpieces and only focus on simple sketches. Likewise, babies shouldn’t have to listen to simple melodies only, without the opportunity to hear masterpieces.

Babies don’t need to understand the music. Music is sensed, not understood. Adults don’t necessarily understand music, but they certainly can feel it. So it is with infants.

A good blog to read on listening equipment is: Listening! on Stay Tuned website.


“The fate of a child is in the hands of his parents.” Shinichi Suzuki

Take care of your violin this winter!

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day!

Don’t be fooled by warm weather in January. Will Punxsutawney Phil predict 6 more weeks of winter! ? That’s a lot more cold weather for your violin to deal with.

During the winter, the violin has two enemies:  cold and low humidity.  The hair on the bow shortens, and tops shrink across the width of the violin more than the backs shrink.  Sounds like trouble.  To keep your instrument safe from the ravages of the cold weather,  you should remember a few basics about where you store your violin at any time.

Your violin should be kept where temperatures do not drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity is in the range of 35-50 percent.  Easier said than done in the winter weather of Northern Virginia.  Moving from the warm house to the cold car is not good for a violin.  You might possibly notice that the pegs do not fit properly, or you might even see cracks in the wood.

Yet, you may have to get to lessons, rehearsals, play-ins, and recitals. Life must go on for a violin, so here are some suggestions for keeping it safe for the winter months from Erin Shrader at Allthingsstrings.com.

~a digital hygrometer– a must to monitor the humidity of the room the violin is in.

~a humidifier for the room in which your violin lives.

~store the violin in the case with the top closed to protect it from changes in temperature and humidity.

~a case humidifier can be useful if you remember to keep it filled.

~store the violin in a silk or tightly woven cotton sack

~before you play the violin, let it acclimate to the room.

Another good site to check out for violin care, winter and summer, is Potter Violin Company in Bethesda.

From Ashburn to Great Falls, winter weather may be wrecking havoc on your violin for 6 more weeks!


“O wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?”  Percy Bysshe Shelley

Why ages 3-5 are so important!

Because those ages present a window of opportunity!

Click the image to watch the video.

3 Year-old learning Skills of Executive Function

3 Year-old learning Skills of Executive Function

“There is a dramatic window for growth in executive function and other cognitive skills between the ages of 3 to 5.” ( Scientific Learning )

Find Out about This Special Window!

 

Ever since all Grammas cuddled  little ones, singing songs and telling stories, the importance of early childhood education has been recognized. What was common sense since the beginning of raising children is now touted from places like Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child.

There are 2 sets of skills that children must develop not only for their own good but also for society’s benefit.  Children aren’t born with these skills, but they are born with the potential to develop them.

1. Executive Function

2. Self-Regulation

These skills are important for learning and for helping children to develop positive behavior and making healthy choices throughout life.

When executive function is present, the ability to succeed in school and in life is strengthened.

Even very young children have to learn how to manage a lot of information and how to avoid distractions.

Executive Function Skills are: focus, remember, plan, and do several tasks at the same time.

Self-regulation skills are those that help us set priorities and resist impulsive actions.

Children aren’t born with these skills, but children have the potential to develop them.

Development in the Brain: Ages 3-5

 

During the early years, ages 3-5, children have the opportunity to develop key skills for their future.

The interactions between child and parent are the active ingredient in building a healthy brain structure. The brain is most able to adapt and change in the earliest years of life.

The more advanced thinking skills cannot be built until the lower ones are in place.

Simple skills developed in the brain are the foundation for more advanced skills.   That is why, giving the child a strong foundation in the early years is vital for executive function development.

A PEAK PERIOD  for developing proficiency in executive function skills is around the ages of 3-5.

Why Scaffold Skills for Young Children?

 

A scaffold provides a temporary structure used to support.  Parents provide the  environments that give children “scaffolding” that helps them practice necessary skills before they must perform them alone.

We know now that development of the executive function and self-regulation skills is not guaranteed. Furthermore, children with problems do not necessarily outgrow the problems. Children who struggle to plan and organize their work in early elementary may become adolescents who fall behind in homework, have difficulty completing projects and struggle to gain academic skills.

Helping children by “scaffolding” will give them the safety net as they develop these important skills.  What does “scaffolding” look like? Here are some ideas from Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child.

1. Play imaginary roles – children invent rules to follow when they play; cooking, eating, setting the play table with play food, etc.

2. Tell stories – children make up stories with complicated plots. They hold and manipulate the characters and actions in their working memory as they tell their story.

3. Climbing, balance beam, see saws – new challenges make the child focus attention, monitor and adjust their actions, and persist to reach their goal.

4. Singing and song games – use working memory and focused attention.

5. Matching and sorting games – change the rules so they learn cognitive flexibility.

Suzuki Violin

Finally, not from Harvard, but from Shinichi Suzuki–beginning to play the violin between the ages of 3-5 is AWESOME for: focus, memory, planning, setting priorities, manipulating several tasks, following rules, resisting impulses, and persisting to a goal.


“There is a dramatic window for growth in executive function and other cognitive skills between the ages of 3 to 5.” ( Scientific Learning )

How does the violin teach children about emotions?

Young children sometimes have difficulty understanding others’ emotions as well as their own.

In the video from Sesame Street, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg uses her violin to show Big Bird and his friend, Miles, what emotions sound like.  Watching the video is a good way to discuss emotions with your young child.

Parents can also use this video to show older children how to play their violin with expression.  Since the emotions are clear in the video and Salerno-Sonnenberg’s playing emphasizes them, this would be an opportunity to help students understand expression.


“Everyone can improve. With this belief I have advanced my ability one step forward.” Shinichi Suzuki

Vacation travel & sensory processing challenges~

You may be traveling to visit family or for a vacation away from it all!  Planning ahead for your child with sensory processing issues can help the child feel safe and confident as well as give your family an opportunity to make fond memories on a great vacation together.

Understood.org is an excellent resource for children with learning and attention issues. A timely article is 10 Tips to Help Kids with Sensory Processing Issues Avoid Travel Meltdowns. These are good, common sense ideas for any child but particularly useful when you want to help your child.

1. Pack a backpack with the familiar things that you know help him calm down.  If you have it near the child, it is easier for him to reach the things himself.  Some believe that the heaviness of the backpack is good for him also.

2. Pack the shampoo, soap, and even towels she is used to using at home.

3. Practice the trip.  For an older child with sensory processing issues, this might mean merely looking at the map and discussing the trip. For younger children, this might include listening to the sounds of an airplane engine, watching a video of an airplane both inside and taking off.  The TSA experience also may be a source of distress.  Talking him through it and practicing what will happen can be important.

4.  On a car trip, stop for frequent breaks.  Some children may need a rest, others may need to get out and kick a soccer ball.

5.  Plan for extra time.  If you are frazzled, your child will sense it.

6.  In an airport, look for a quiet corner to wait for your flight.  Too much activity and noise may overwhelm your child.

7.  Plan for your airplane boarding options. Some children may do well to board early, others later.  Perhaps the seating assignment you get will help–bulkhead or aisle seats.

8. Give your child the opportunity to try on any new clothes he may have to wear on the trip.  For example, if you are going to a warmer climate, make sure he knows about the different clothing he will be wearing.  You may allow him to select his own clothes to take if that helps.

9. Bring along familiar foods.  Or shop for your own when you arrive.  Even if you are a house guest, you can purchase foods you know your child will want.

10. Follow the same bedtime routine as at home.  If your child is cranky at night, stop travel early.  If she is cranky in the morning, don’t get on the road too early.

**11.  Take his or her violin along!


“While we try to teach our children all about life, they teach us what life is all about.” Angela Schwindt (homeschooling mom)

Looking for good holiday gift ideas?

 Ideas that Shinichi Suzuki would approve!

If you are looking for a gift for the younger crowd that isn’t only about the latest cultural vacuum, here are some ideas.

This is a great CD to play in the car and a fun DVD set for the young ones: get the English version.  “Wunderkind Little Amadeus introduces classical music to children and their families, inspiring their musical creativity and encouraging them to become actively involved in music-making.”

littleamadeuscd

Little Amadeus: Mozart for Children (CD)

 Little Amadeus: Season I (DVD)

 

 

Another good series is Beethoven’s Wig. Beethovenswig

 

These items can be purchased at a number of locations including Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and naxosdirect.com.


Music is a moral law.  It gives soul to the universe….” Plato

 

How does that triangle work?

The Suzuki Triangle

Suzuki coined the term Triangle which represents the relationship between child, teacher, and parent that makes it possible for a child to play the violin well.

trianglereal

In January of 2013, just before I began to teach violin lessons in Cusco, Peru, for 6 months, I taught and attended workshops at the XXVIII International Festival in Lima, Peru. I studied Books One and Two with the Suzuki Teacher Trainer from Minnesota, Nancy Lokken. The first thing Ms. Lokken did was to draw a triangle on the board like this:

simple triangle

The Suzuki Triangle

 

ages 3-6

Ages 3-6

The heavy black line of the initial stages of the Triangle, when the Child is very young, represents more communication, understanding, feedback, and dialogue between the parent and the teacher.

Even at home, when the teacher isn’t present, the parent is working with information and skills taught by the teacher. Yes, there is communication between the child and the parent, but there is not much independent thinking on the part of the child.

 


 

photo 1

Ages 7-10

Notice that there is a more even distribution of communication as the child ages between parent, teacher, and child. Even though these ages are approximate, it’s been my experience that children begin to take initiative and make decisions about their playing very early. However, the parent is still completely involved, still maintaining the dialogue with the teacher. The parent writes notes in class, asks questions at the end of a lesson, confides in practicing problems, shares in successes, and, of course, leads the home practice.

 

 


 

age 11 and up

Ages 11 and up

As the Child becomes more and more independent, the relationships begin to shift. The child and teacher eventually become the exclusive participants in lessons.

Some parents have a tough time at this stage, and I can understand. Unfortunately, if this shift doesn’t happen, the “young adult” doesn’t feel he or she is part of the process.  This age is tricky and so important.

 

 

Children around this age (each child is unique) must begin to take responsibility for what they like and don’t like about their playing. If they are to continue progressing meaningfully on the instrument, they must take more and more initiative and have more and more of an opinion about what they hear coming out of their instrument.

This means that the parent must not only refrain from interacting with the teacher or child during lessons, but parents should also “let a lot of things go” at the home practice. Things that they used to be charged with attending to, like playing in tune or using the correct bowings, might need to be ignored. Interfering with the child’s blossoming responsibility to listen to himself will slow his development as a musician, and frustration will ensue. In his book Helping Parents Practice, Edmund Sprunger addresses this stage at length and gives parents excellent ways to handle home practice.


 This really does happen!

To share an anecdote from an Atlanta area Suzuki teacher, Martha Yasuda: A 9-yr. old student asked her after a so-so performance at the student recital – “How do I get to sound better on the violin?  I just don’t think I sounded that great like some of the others did.”

Mrs. Yasuda answered, “You probably won’t like my answer, but here it is–you need to follow better directions when I tell you to do things in lessons.”  She reports they proceeded to fix all the posture problems  they had been working on, and the child transformed completely right before her eyes.  The child even commented: “I’m pretty sure my wrist is way too high.”

As Mrs. Yasuda says, “My most euphoric moment of maybe the  past decade or more!”

The triangle has matured!


“If you put it off until some other time, you will never get it done, because ‘some other time’ has its own tasks…” Shinichi Suzuki

Orchestras-They’re not just for adults!

Playing in an orchestra is like nothing else in the world

Richmond Family Magazine‘s (8/15/15) article describes the Richmond Symphony and its youth orchestra.

Doug Brown recalls his experience as a youth playing in an orchestra.  Brown states that “Playing in an orchestra is like nothing else in the world.” He has made that opportunity available to three of his six children.

Reacting to Brown’s comment about playing in an orchestra, the Symphony’s music director, Steven Smith, states that “Our world is filled with technologies and debates that divide us.  The arts bring us together.” It’s hard to disagree with that.

It takes commitment to be able to reach the level to play in a youth orchestra, but young, Yixuan Zhao, says it is worth it because playing in the group “feels like everything else is not real.  It’s an incredible feeling.”  This tenth grader says that when she plays, her mind is “completely concentrated on the music…I don’t get that from other things.”

Zhao also believes that studying music has helped her excel in academics.  She thinks that “knowing how to practice helps [her] study better and be more focused as a person in general.”

We have many opportunities for students in Northern Virginia to play in school orchestras and in youth symphony orchestras.  Help your child see what it would be like to do that.

Listening is valuable too!

Listening to good music is a keystone of the Suzuki Method. Aimee Halbruner, the director of education and community engagement for the Richmond Symphony, says she has been taking her son to the symphony starting at an early age.  She says that in the beginning he always brought a book with him and might have read during most of the concert, but still heard the music in the background.

This is So Suzuki!  Dr. Suzuki says to play good music for hours during the day, playing it softly in the background so the child will be immersed in beautiful sound and develop his ear.

Halbruner says that as her son grew older, he put down the book more and more frequently during the concert, pausing to listen fully, until he eventually left his book at home.

Here at Reston, parents can check the Lake Anne calendar and  Wolftrap for concerts.  Click here for my Resources page for links to other local performing groups.  The month of December is a great time to get out to concerts!

It’s not difficult to give our children the opportunities that are available–not just for an academic leg-up, but for the sheer love of music. We are hard-wired for it, you know! Click here to read my blog post, “Was Our Brain Wired First for Music or for Language?”

Photo credit: Derek Gleeson / Foter / CC BY-SA


“Music exists for the purpose of growing an admirable heart.” Shinichi Suzuki

Could be a Suzuki teacher!

violinist in park

Park on Shamian Island, Guangzhou, China

A few years ago, I co-hosted a recital with another Suzuki teacher, a veteran teacher who had recently moved to Virginia.  My most memorable moment from that afternoon was that she insisted that all the children from both studios should line up behind her as she led them out onto the stage, playing as she strolled.  The youngest children looked just like these in this statue…walking closely behind, not yet playing the violin. And you know how those preschoolers follow in line, sometimes never even looking where they are going.  The older children at our recital followed along also, each playing along with the teacher and assuring that the little ones kept up. A ceremonial way to begin a recital, for sure.

Each Suzuki teacher brings his or her personality to the studio. However, there are certain features of a Suzuki violin teacher that parents should look for.

One home schooling mother said that it is important for the Suzuki teacher to understand the significance of Suzuki’s heart and to embrace Suzuki’s philosophy that every child CAN play the violin given the right environment and instruction.

It is also important for parents to read Suzuki’s books such as Nurtured by Love and Ability from Age Zero.  Know Suzuki well even before you sign up for lessons for your little one.

The Suzuki Method is so special for children and their families. Parents may be tempted by the myriad of activities available for children. But they should focus on one important activity for their very young child.

Violin lessons are uniquely suited for them in many ways.

Click here for photo credit


“Any child can develop.  It depends on how you do it.”  Shinichi Suzuki

Who can resist a marshmallow?

Resisting temptations and distractions?  It’s a learned behavior.

Very young children have to be taught how to control their impulses. They aren’t born that way.  And it is important for them to learn to control impulses to do well in school and in life.

The best example of children “filtering thoughts and impulses” to resist a temptation is the Marshmallow Test.

If your child takes Suzuki lessons during preschool years, he or she will have a golden opportunity to develop self-control, resisting impulses while having fun and learning to play a most difficult musical instrument.


“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.”   Lao Tzu

Wait, what?–Monti’s “Czardas”

The Kanneh-Masons Play Monti’s “Czardas”

This is what can happen when a family values music for their children!  They are just plain fun to watch and listen to. Playing this for your children will get them up and on their way to school!

The folk piece, “Czardas” by Vittorio Monti, includes different sections with differing tempos.  The piece is based on a Hungarian czardas or folk dance.

Enjoy!

 

Photo credit: nattomi / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA


“Any child can be developed. It depends on how you do it.” Shinichi Suzuki

 

Do you see dots?

September 15 is International Dot Day.

Here is a wonderful video of the children’s book, The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds, which reminds children that they should keep trying even when they think they cannot do something. This is worth sharing with the young ones.

On September 15, 2009, school teacher, Terry Shay, read the book, The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds to his class.  It was the start of International Dot Day.  A day celebrated around the world!

When something looks hard to a child, he needs to be encouraged.  We need to show him that he shouldn’t give up just because it doesn’t come easy.  And we have to teach him that he shouldn’t compare himself to others.

Learning to play the violin is not easy; it is a very difficult instrument to play.  That’s why it is so ingenious that Shinichi Suzuki created a Method to teach violin to the very young child.  He made it accessible to all children.  As he said, Every Child Can.

Let’s encourage our children to “see the many dots”on their way to becoming excellent violin players.

Click here for Featured Image credit.


“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” Albert Einstein

 

Have you seen this Yo-Yo Ma Quartet?

Murray Beethoven, a Honker appearing in quartet with Yo-Yo Ma!

♪    Murray wrote his own composition: “Beethoven Quartet for Two Honkers, Dinger, and Cello.”

♪    A Honker communicates  by squeezing its nose which is shaped like a bulb. A Dinger uses the bell on the top of its head.

Enjoy!

 


“Children learn to smile from their parents.” Shinichi Suzuki

 

Click here for image source. Margaret Napier, CC BY-ND 2.0

Suzuki early childhood

Is there a Suzuki Method for 0 to 3-year-olds?

Infants Are Like Seedlings

Suzuki said that infants are like seedlings. We don’t let a sprout whither and then give it a lot of fertilizer, sunlight, and water, thinking that is the right time to grow. It’s too late for the withered sprout. Likewise, we don’t set children aside until they enter kindergarten saying that’s when education begins.

Suzuki said you don’t expect a bumper crop when you plant nothing.  What you will get will be whatever seeds happen to land in the field.  Likewise, parents should not leave education up to chance. If they do, they won’t get what they hoped for.

Plant early enough in the season! Suzuki told a story about Darwin who was asked by a mother when she should start educating her one and a half  year-old son.  Darwin told her she was a year and a half too late.

Immersion

Suzuki observed how children learn by watching the way they learned to talk. Children begin to talk a lot between the ages of 2 and 5.  They seem to learn to speak almost overnight once they begin. He says a young baby learns one word at first, which is repeated by the adults around him or her.  Then later another word is added, but the first word is not dropped. He based his teaching Method on the way a baby learns language.  He says to start with listening to music. Immerse the infant with good music.

Very, Very Early Suzuki Training!

Start your Suzuki training from the time of birth. Not because you want your child to be an Einstein.  But because you really do know it is the right thing to do.  Surround the infant with good music. Since infants hear and absorb the sounds of their environment, play good music softly in the background.  Play it at home and in the car. Learning to play violin, for a baby, is simply listening to music.

MVbaby2From birth to age 3 is the best time to develop an ear for music.  Play one piece repeatedly during the day. The music should be played softly.  Just loud enough to know it is on. Suzuki says that if you play a five-minute piece of Mozart, for example, every day, by 5 months old the baby has learned it.

He says test this:  play a different piece of music for the baby; then switch to the familiar piece.  Observe the baby’s response.  For the 1st piece, the baby will listen intently and his or her eyes will be absorbed.  As soon as the music switches to the familiar piece, the baby will smile, look for his mother, and may even shake his or her body to the rhythm of the old piece.

Suzuki says the piece has become the baby’s music—a comfort.

Eventually add more pieces, one at a time.  The result is “a heightened musical sensitivity” similar to that of the acquisition of language.

Choose Beautiful Music

Select beautiful music from the European masters. It has sophistication and intricacy which appeals to children. You wouldn’t put off looking at beautiful masterpieces and only focus on simple sketches. Likewise, babies shouldn’t have to listen to simple melodies only, without the opportunity to hear masterpieces.

Babies don’t need to understand the music.  Music is sensed, not understood. Adults don’t necessarily understand music, but they certainly can feel it.  So it is with infants.

Suzuki Early Childhood Education

Following the ideas of early exposure to good music, Dorothy Jones created an early childhood education program in 1993 which was approved by the International Suzuki Association.  Suzuki Early Childhood Education is developed on the same principles as that of the Suzuki Method for teaching children to play a musical instrument. Our studio introduces SECE classes in September 2017 for ages 0-3!

And when baby is around 3, a good Suzuki Violin Program for your child would be:

1.  Begin as early as possible

2.  Create the best possible environment

3.  Use the finest teaching method

4.  Provide a great deal of training

5.  Use the finest teachers


“The fate of a child is in the hands of his parents.”  Shinichi Suzuki

 

Brain power–from a challenge?

Children’s brains can get more powerful!

Teach your children they have the power to make their brains more powerful every day!  This video from Kizoom explains to even young children how our brains can change.  Want to be able to explain terms such as neuron and neuroplasticity?  Children should know how their brains work.  Great video!

Learning to play the violin is a worthwhile challenge. After watching this video you can just imagine how your child’s brain will get stronger.

Challenges–

– are not easy.

– often lead to mistakes

– that are harder led to more neuron growth

– become easier over time with practice.

 


“As your brain gets stronger, you get stronger!”  Kizoom- Brain Jump with Ned the Neuron

 

young Suzuki violinist

“I love to watch you play”

6 Words You Should Say Today

Rachel Macy Stafford, who writes a blog called Hands Free Mama wrote a post, “Six Words You Should Say Today,” which suggested a wonderful way for a parent to react after any performance. Stafford says: simply tell your child, I love to watch you play.

A Suzuki education is of the whole child.

The Suzuki parent develops a very close relationship with her child through the Suzuki Method.  So the child is very attentive to her parent.

We intuitively know that children are influenced by the quality of the adults in their lives. Parents are indispensable partners in the early years of learning, but also into adolescence. Dr. Suzuki knew that parents (and teachers) are also responsible for nurturing a beautiful heart. A beautiful way for a parent to react to the child’s performance is in those words–I love to watch you play.

This child is filled with sheer joy at this simple accomplishment.

What’s the best thing for mom or dad to say after the lesson?

Suzuki parents simply say, “I love to watch you play.”


“The fate of a child is in the hands of his parents.”  Shinichi Suzuki

 

Which has a greater impact: music lessons, dance, or sports?


“There are strong differences in terms of cognitive and non-cognitive skills between adolescents who learned a musical instrument during childhood and those who did not.” *

Of course, there are many benefits from participating in dance or sports, but only playing a musical instrument is associated with higher grades and superior cognitive skills.

Compared to children who participate in sports or dance, children who take music lessons have substantially greater gains in several key areas.

  • intellectual development
  • school grades
  • wide interests, being imaginative, & insightful
  • organization, thoroughness, making plans
  • using time wisely

More than twice as much

According to a 2012 German study, the effects of studying a musical instrument are much stronger on cognitive skills, school grades, and conscientiousness, than the effects of sports and dance.

As  a matter of fact, the research found that music improves cognitive and non-cognitive skills more than twice as much as sports or dance does. This research finds that improved academic performance truly is a result of musical training.

While the researchers acknowledged benefits of sports and dance, the strong impact of music lessons on cognitive skills was not replicated for children doing sports or dance. This is not to say that children should not participate in sports or dance.  In this study, there certainly are benefits to both activities.

But for substantial cognitive gains, music lessons win.  Why would you want substantial cognitive gains for your young child? Because cognitive development includes such things as information processing, intelligence, reasoning, language development, and memory. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Goals of the study

Because the motivation for the research was to know the long-term effects of music training on children, all of the students in this study took lessons for 9 years

They tested for the effects of music training in 5 categories:

  1. cognitive skills
  2. school achievement
  3. personality (openness and conscientiousness)
  4. use of time
  5. ambition

Results of the study

  1. cognitive skills: scores are more than twice as high as what would be obtained from playing sports
  2. school achievement: much higher achievement than those who didn’t take music
  3. personality: much greater in openness [having wide interests, and being imaginative and insightful] and conscientiousness [organized, thorough, and planful] 
  4. time use: 13 % less likely to watch TV every day
  5. ambition: 15 % more likely to plan on obtaining an upper secondary school degree and 18 % more likely to apply to university.

Earlier start, greater results

The study was based on 372 German teens who began to take music lessons outside of school before the age of 8 and continued for 9 years. The control group consisted of about 3000.  Outcomes were measured at age 17.

The effects of beginning to play a musical instrument later than the age of 8 were still positive, but weaker than those of children who start to learn a musical instrument earlier. For those who started later,  the effects on cognitive skills, openness and ambition are still relatively strong, but effects on school marks and conscientiousness were not significant.

A summary of other studies that illustrate the unique benefits of music lessons can be found here.

 Photo credit: takacsi75 / Foter / CC BY

“Parents who recognize their child’s potential ability are good parents.” Shinichi Suzuki