Quite a few Suzuki teachers have taken out local listings on Homeschool.com. In fact, Susan Shields, who has a listing in Illinois, was the first U.S. student to ever study the Suzuki method in Japan. In 1966, immediately following her graduation from the University of Tennessee, with a degree in Music, Susan traveled to Japan to become the first American to enroll in Suzuki’s teacher training course! Japan then became Susan’s home for six years as she learned how to teach violin and piano to young children.
Her students learned the way they might learn their first language, being immersed in music through parental participation and with an emphasis on playing from memory vs. playing from sheet music.
Below, Susan has shared some ways learning a language is similar to the Suzuki method–
l. Children learn songs from the very first lesson. This is fun for the children and very motivating. Exercises, scales and note reading are taught several years later. This is similar to the way children learn to speak their native language. When children first learn to talk, they learn words and sentences. When children are older, they learn the rules of grammar and how to read.
2. Every student has a private lesson weekly. The student learns songs at the private lesson.
3. From the beginning, the Suzuki violin student plays in groups with other students. This is fun for the children and very encouraging for the parents of the students. Children of all levels play together, so the new students are inspired by playing with the advanced students and listening to the songs they will be learning in the future. The Suzuki piano student has solo recitals with other students.
4. The mother (or father), attends every lesson and takes notes so she (or he) can practice with the child at home. Comparing this to a child learning to speak, , adults in his environment talk to him daily and correct mistakes.
5. The child listens daily to a compact disc which has all the songs the child will be learning. Again, this is similar to the way a child learns a language. From the day a baby is born, he is surrounded by adults who talk to him, so he has a model of the way the language should sound.
6. Children can start very young in the Suzuki method. Dr. Suzuki recommends starting as young as 3 years old. Concerning the best age to start- recently I researched 30 famous concert violinists and discovered that 27 of them began violin lessons at age 7. This tells me that starting at age 3 is not a matter of life and death. Personally, I feel that, in many cases the child who starts at age 3 and the child who starts at age 7 will both be at the same level by age 8. I mostly start children ages 6 and above.
Wow–thank you Susan!
If your child is interested in learning an instrument, we have many music teachers reaching out to homeschoolers on our Local Homeschooling pages. Rhona Raegen, one of Susan’s friends was named ASTA Studio Teacher of the Year. Exceptional teachers in the area also include Emily Sobacki and Lisa Creason. Suzuki teachers in other locations are plentiful too!
And yes, fun learning is forever learning!