Studio Policies

“Children will love those talents or possessions to which we encourage them to give time and effort.” – Marvin J. Ashton

Willey Lyceum Suzuki Studio
Denise Willey, Suzuki Strings Instructor
880 East Grove Creek Drive
Pleasant Grove  UT 84062
denisewwilley@yahoo.com
(801) 368 2590

Studio Policies

 Music Academic Training: Bachelor of Music, magna cum laude, University of Utah, 1975; Utah teaching certificate in composite secondary music with elementary music endorsement; graduate music classes, Brigham Young University and University of Utah; Intermuse Kodaly training, BYU, 2011.

 Registered Suzuki Teacher Training: with Registered Teacher Trainers:

  • Violin: Books one through ten: Hiroko Primrose, Ellie Albers LeRoux, Jeanne Grover, Jacqueline Mauer, Pat D’Ercole, Linda Fiore, Allen Lieb, Barbara Barber, Cathy Lee, Ed Sprunger, Pat D’Ercole
  • Viola: Books one through seven: Elizabeth Stuen-Walker, William Preucil,
  • Cello: Carol Tarr, Susan Gagnon, Charlene Wilson.
  • Bass: Daniel Swaim, Virginia Dixon
  • SAA Teaching Practicum: Christie Felsing
  • Suzuki Principles in Action: Pat D’Ercole

Supplemental Suzuki Teacher Training: Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, William Starr, John Kendall, Rhonda Cole, Susan Kempner, Alice Joy Lewis, Doris Preucil, Ed Kreitman, Linda Case, Liz Arbus, Tonya Carey, Timothy Durbin, Joseph Kaminsky, Julia Hardie, Janet Andersen, Judy Offman, Deborah Moench, Richard Hoyt, Carey Cheney, Rodney Farrar, Richard Aaron, Rick Mooney

Professional Experience, Distinctions, Memberships, & Responsibilities

  • Registered Teacher Trainer, viola & violin, Suzuki Association of Americas. I have trained teachers for nearly 20 years.   
  • Member, Suzuki Association of Utah, Advanced Active Status; Suzuki Association of the Americas, American String Teacher Association, International Suzuki Association, Utah Music Educators Association
  • Vice President, Board of Directors, Suzuki Association of Utah, 1996-present, violin, viola, bass.
  • Utah Studio Teacher of the YearUtah American String Teacher Association: 1997
  • Adjunct Instructor of Music Pedagogy: School of Music, Brigham Young University, 1996.
  • Artistic Director, 1987-present: Lyceum Music Festival Youth, Lyceum Chamber Ensemble & Prep Orchestras, Utah Valley Youth Symphony, Payson Chamber Ensemble.
  • Guest conductor, Utah Valley Symphony, 1997 & 1999
  • String Teacher: 48 years, 2017
  • Orchestra conductor: 43 years
  • School Orchestra Teacher: 1975-1988, Davis, North Sanpete, and Nebo School Districts, American Heritage Lyceum Orchestra Program, 2006-present.
  • Suzuki Mother: 25 years; all my six children studied Suzuki strings, (violin, viola, cello, and bass.)  All six finished every Suzuki instrument book; all six took Suzuki piano; four also took Suzuki organ.

 

“Music speaks what cannot be expressed, “Where words fail, music speaks.” Hans Christian Andersen

Soothes the mind and gives it rest,

Heals the Heart and makes it whole,

Flows from heaven to the soul.” 

 

AGREEMENT FOR MUSIC LESSONS

Terms: September 1 to August 31 – 52 weeks. Trimesters: Sept-Dec.; Jan-May; May-Aug.

Number of lessons not including recitals: usually 48.  Number of Holidays: tbd (see below)

Payment: 12 payments of $____for 15 min. beginner lessons; $____for 30 min. lessons; $____for 45 minute lessons;  $____ for 60 minutes lessons;  $____for 75 minute lessons.

Eight-week financial commitment notice must be given.

 

PRIVATE LESSON POLICY

(effective June 2017),

SUZUKI PHILOSOPHY & TEACHER EXPECTATIONS

Monthly lesson tuition will be paid by the first lesson of the month. Pay Pal recurring payment system is preferred. You receive an “early bird” discount if you pay by the exact first day of the month, or a $15 late fee if you remit after the first scheduled lesson day of the month.   There is a $25 fee for returned checks.

The tuition fee usually includes two-five private lessons and usually one group class per month, and covers membership in my studio, hall rental, concerts, programs, extra rehearsals, group class accompanists, administrative/ secretarial bookkeeping, scheduling, etc.  It does not cover other accompanist fees, guest teachers, chamber coaching, workshops, SAU activities or fees, string festival entry fees, extensive phone calls, emails or texts, etc.  The monthly fee reflects lessons scheduled, not lessons given.  You will have occasional vacation days during the year, e.g two weeks in December, and some summer music camps.  Some others may be scheduled.  If you choose or need to miss a lesson for some reason, you have the option of changing lesson times with another student to avoid forfeiting the lesson fee, though you must do the rearranging.  Just use my current teaching schedule on the Google doc to call up and “swap” times or days with someone.    I don’t teach make-up lessons; my schedule is full.  For extreme emergencies, i.e., hospitalization, funerals, natural disasters, etc., call and I can put you on a list.  When someone else cancels, I will offer the time to you.  I would appreciate your calling the family/ies before or after your lesson times if you must miss, and have them fill into your time if possible, so I don’t get left “hanging.”  On months with three or five lessons, you still pay the basic monthly rate, and it will even out in the months with five weeks, or during the summer months when I will take one-two weeks off for family vacations, training, or music camps, or in December when there are three lessons. If at some point you feel you need to change teachers, I can help you find another good fit.  You must give me two months’ paid notice. Thanks for your cooperation.

Teacher expectations: Just so you know where I stand:  I require six days practicing a week, and two to three days a week doing studio activities; one for the private lesson, one for orchestra (Book 2 to advanced,) plus an occasional recital, concert, Suzuki activity, etc., all of which I expect you to attend.  In my studio, we attend all workshops, and we support the other students and parents in their recitals, thereby learning valuable listening, playing, and critical thinking skills, and in being motivated to do even better.  If you are heavily involved in other activities, sports, dance, etc., and you feel you are too busy for this 2-3 day per week commitment, you are probably too busy for lessons in my studio. Being a success at Suzuki music requires an almost fanatical dedication.  I do not foresee any exceptions aside from true emergencies.

I expect you, the parent, to practice with your child EVERY day but Sunday, attend lessons, oversee your child’s listening to the CD recording, and other requirements I list on the following pages. If you are too busy to give this daily time and attention to your child and follow my expectations, it is very difficult for a child to have a successful experience, and you should not seek lessons from me. These requirements ensure that your child enjoys his/her lessons and has continuing success.

Parent expectations:  You may expect high quality Suzuki music training from a trained, experienced, registered teacher, consistent (I virtually never miss), efficient lessons, excellent progress, consistently superb performances for festivals & recitals, time, love, personal attention, commitment, dedication, and marvelous opportunities in the music field, since I keep abreast of performance prospects in the community.  In addition students are taught to read music exceptionally well and become superb orchestral and chamber performers.  Listen to my students to see what can be developed in a matter of months or years.  I participate in teacher training every single year, on multiple instruments if possible, and attend national conferences annually, all at my own expense.  I am firmly committed to giving you my absolute best.  I promise I won’t waste your time or money.

So that you can participate in valuable activities throughout the year, I require that all parents in my studio join the SUZUKI ASSOCIATION OF UTAH.  The initial membership fee is $35 per family, and you renew annually in August.  I also require attendance at the Lyceum Music Festival Youth in late July/August.  I also recommend the Intermountain Suzuki String Institute in June.  These camps are WELL worth the tuition which you may have to save up for.  If the cost seems prohibitive to you, I recommend saving a little bit each month until March.  This has worked for me, and I consistently registered all my children each year, ages 2-15, to the tune of over $2000-K3000.  Institutes and other high quality music camps expose your student to some of the finest teachers in the country and world.  The motivation to practice and progress that comes from music camps is incredible.  At $75-$400+, it’s a bargain in the Suzuki world.    Also, I expect EVERY mother in my studio to attend the Suzuki Parents’ Convention in January, and our bi-annual Suzuki Mothers’ Tea.

PRACTICE with your child/ren every day, six or seven days a week, even if just for a minimal amount of time.  Daily focus: there is no other way.  Strive to motivate children so they will enjoy practicing correctly at home with you.  Times might range from two minutes to two hours in one to four different sessions, depending on the student’s age; but usually, at least practice for the amount of your lesson time, and eventually double the lesson time.   Don’t worry about watching the clock.  Just go through the lesson notebook instructions each day.  Try creative ideas, such as charts, incentives, stickers, etc. to keep the practice time positive and enjoyable.  Children will learn to enjoy their practice time with you if you are consistent and cheerful when you practice, but understand that it is a rare child who loves to practice and work ALL the time. Be patient and persistent.  It CAN be done; I know because I did it for 30 years.  Avoid at all costs: sarcasm, negative attitudes, scolding, pushing ahead in the literature, and ESPECIALLY comparisons against other children, students, siblings.

Families should practice one hundred days in a row within one year of starting lessons, or I will consider referring to another studio.  You may omit Sundays if you wish.  In an exceptionally very busy time, you may count a day of practicing if you have done just the listening and the review.  On an impossible day coming up, if you plan ahead and practice the night before (so twice in that day), you may count the following day, but you may not “make up” practicing after the day has passed. After and during the 100 Days in a row, you will see the benefits of regular, consistent practice.

LISTEN to the artist recordings every single day to develop musical sensitivity.  I have found that rapid progress depends on this listening more than on any other one factor except consistent parental attention.  The more a student listens to the recordings, the easier it will be for him to learn new pieces.  Dr. Suzuki says that the “cheetah-paced” students (fastest land animal on earth) listen all day and all night. I’ve found 8-10 hours a day of listening to be wonderfully helpful, especially if some is just before going to sleep and some is just upon awakening.  Play the recording about ten times a day, and listen to current pieces 20-50 times a day.  Especially helpful (read: ESSENTIAL) are programmable CD players, ipods, or MP3 players for this concentrated listening. At our home, night-time listening was perfect.  If someone has trouble sleeping, turn the volume down to barely audible.  It works!  I plugged our old tape player boom box (remember those?)  into an appliance timer and it turned on and off automatically each day and night.  Then I never needed to remember to turn it on.  After a while, I left the players running 24/7.  In addition to the Suzuki repertoire, our family also loved to listen to chamber and symphonic music at night, and to KBYU Classical FM 89.1 radio during the day.  If you want your practice sessions and lessons to go more smoothly, LISTEN MORE!  I REQUIRE 8 hours a day or night.

Spend more time practicing on old pieces (ones which children know well), than on new pieces.  This REVIEW WORK is an integral part of the Suzuki method, and is essential for developing fine players.  Practicing review pieces is also much more enjoyable for children than struggling with new ones; it is the parents who might be “bored,” not the children, (who will pick up your attitudes.)   Like magic the child learns new skills and pieces much faster and with more precision than if he had spent most of his time practicing those new pieces. It is true, even though it seems like a contradiction.  After the middle of book one, I expect a full book of review practice, about 20-30 minutes, every day.  Suzuki says, “Ability breeds ability,” i.e., when we work at what we do well, we will do better at what we don’t do well yet.  If you are having a busy day, choose to practice REVIEW, not the new piece.  If I hear a review piece that has not been maintained, I will spend the lesson on that, and the new piece will not be touched.  Please, NEVER by your actions or attitudes try to push your child ahead of the teacher’s pace.  Do not begin new pieces until I assign them and introduce the previews.  Suzuki says, “Never rush; never rest.”

CONSTANT attention should be given to accurate intonation, correct posture, and the proper bow hand.

TONALIZATION, or the production of a beautiful tone, should be stressed in every practice and lesson.  I do this mostly with scales.

One parent, always the same one unless there is any emergency, should ATTEND the lesson with the young child and beginner, and should practice at home with him/her every day.  This parent should follow my lead in language, terms, order of practicing activities, etc. If there is anything that you are not sure of during the lessons, be sure to ask questions until you understand.  This will facilitate correct practicing at home.  The parent is the teacher at home, so she/he is expected to take copious notes at the lessons, and follow through in daily practice.  I’ve found that the mother/parent is the key player in the famous Suzuki triangle of teacher, student, and parent.

Every year parents should READ the book NURTURED BY LOVE by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki.  Other books of interest are TO LEARN WITH LOVE by William and Constance Starr, ABILITY DEVELOPMENT FROM AGE ZERO also by Dr. Suzuki, THE SUZUKI CONCEPT by Mills-Murphy, WHERE LOVE IS DEEP by Suzuki, and TEACHING FROM THE BALANCE POINT by Kreitman.  You can borrow these from me or from the public library.  The articles in your lesson manual are the best I’ve ever read. I also recommend subscribing to The Suzuki Journal. The articles are fabulous and motivating.

GROUP LESSONS are an important part of the Suzuki method.  Our performance classes are taught once a month as one of the four lessons, and are included in the monthly lesson fee.  Usually no private lessons are given during the week of group class.  Please be certain that your child gets the benefit of every month’s group lesson.  You will find them an integral part of the Suzuki philosophy, and also very enjoyable and motivating for the students.  In addition, students usually receive more learning time at group class than at the private lesson. More details below.

During the year, your child will perform in various STUDIO RECITALS, usually two a year.  In addition, you may expect your child to finish about one individual book recital a year in Books 2-6, and faster after that.  Individual book graduation recitals will require a charge of $10.

OBSERVING other students’ lessons is extremely beneficial, especially for the beginner.  I heartily recommend your doing it every week.  I require observing 8 hours before a child begins lessons for a 5-7-year-old, more for younger children, a full year for a one or two-year-old.  Students AND PARENTS benefit. Please note:  I require observation of at least one other lesson a week for one year for all new students.  Another highly motivating activity is attendance at other children’s book recitals.  Don’t miss them!  All families are expected to attend other students’ recitals, or tell me why you don’t.  Book recitals are not to be scheduled on Mondays or Sundays.

As you might know, I am very enthusiastic about MUSIC READING, CHAMBER MUSIC, ORCHESTRA, & CAMPS.   I expect that all my students will take the opportunity to play in the ORCHESTRA when the opportunity exists, particularly my own orchestras, the American Heritage Lyceum Orchestra Program.  There is no way I can provide all of the experiences and skills in a private lesson that a child learns in orchestra.  The musicianship and social motivation gained in orchestra and chamber groups is impossible for me to duplicate.  I foresee no exceptions to this rule and will help find a new teacher for families who don’t realize these marvelous opportunities.  I also require all students to attend the new Lyceum Music Festival Youth summer orchestra camp, and possibly Suzuki Institute or Mountains and Strings Chamber Music Retreat.  High quality music camps are THE most motivating activity you can encourage during the summer.  I expect all my students to attend. We have also the Lyceum Chamber Music Society. I place most of my advanced students in string quartets, trios, etc., which rehearse twice a month and perform several times during the season.  Chamber music is one of the best things you can do for your children’s musical development, and one of most enjoyable experiences your student will have in life!  Again, if this isn’t what you want in lessons, I can refer you to another teacher.

Dr. Suzuki is convinced that musical ability can be fully cultivated in ALL children if the above steps are followed.  Musical ability is not necessarily an inborn talent, but an ability that can be developed. By creating the musical environment, you can actually GIFT your child more talent.  All children who are properly trained can develop musical ability just as all normal children develop the ability to speak their mother tongue.  Every child can! is the SAA motto.  I firmly believe this. 

OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE:  Students should arrive five minutes early for lessons to use the restroom, wash hands with soap, clip nails, rosin bow, put on shoulder rest, and get instrument and music ready.  Open books on the stand to the correct page, and in the right order of the usual lesson routine.  Use paper clips in books.  Put your Suzuki book and review trail at my right foot.  The student can do quiet bowing exercises on his own when he is ready to go, and begin tuning the instrument when it is his lesson time.  I will continue to teach my other student until I see you are ready.  Late comers cannot be given extra time.  Try to use your lesson time for questions, to eliminate phone calls, texts, & emails during my non-teaching family time.  Please try to understand that with this many students, only one five-minute call a week from each family adds up to HOURS a month.  And long replies from me to your emails are death to my family time. Texts are only for urgent matters, not to ask questions. Use lesson time to ask me your questions and limit them to the beginning of YOUR lesson time (not the next student’s time—the same with writing checks.)  Just put the check in your account folder, which you should check often.  Families should remove their shoes when they come in for lessons, but must wear socks, and parents, please, do not park in the driveway, unless you have a sleeping child in the car, in which case, pull into the first bay.  Please no candy, gum, food, or drink (except water, and please bring a full water bottle for your child.)  Do not let children play with my blinds, jump on the sofa, or EVER go in other parts of the house or studio unaccompanied.  Turn off your phone, and if you MUST make or take a call, kindly step out on the porch, and I will wait for you to finish the call.  Finally, be sure to gather up ALL your belongings before you go, and check the lost and found box next to the sofa occasionally.

BEGINNERS   To get on my waiting list:

  • Observe my teaching for least 8 hours, both parent and child. For best results and fastest progress, 4-year-olds should observe four months; 3-year-olds, six months; and 1 & 2–year olds should watch for a year.  An older sibling’s lesson works, but spread it around.
  • Read Nurtured by Love by Shinichi Suzuki and watch the DVD you may borrow from me.
  • Interview at least 5 studio parents by phone and report your findings to me by email.
  • Listen to the Suzuki CD 100 hours.
  • Read all articles in the Parent Education Handbook.
  • Attend the Suzuki Mothers’ Tea & the Parent Convention.
  • Join SAU, the Suzuki Association of Utah.
  • The first lesson will be a parent training day, no instruments.
  • You will also need to read the paperback book, Easy Steps to Music Reading, and watch the DVD, also available on the website below.
  • I start beginners at 2-6 years of age, and usually refer ninth graders on to University teachers.

You will need the following for lessons.

  • An 8 ½ X 11” spiral notebook (not loose sheets of paper) for the mother to write practicing instructions during lessons, and for me during group class. You will also want a binder or music pouch to hold your books, flash cards and paraphernalia.
  • A programmable CD player, ipod, or MP3 player.  Don’t settle for less than the BEST you can afford on this equipment.
  • Volume 1 and CD of the “Suzuki Violin School” (or viola, cello, or bass) and the recording to go along with it., and the piano accompaniment. You can purchase these at most music stores or online.
  • A set of I LOVE to Read Music!  Flashcards, the Music Reading Primer, (the “Blue”) and the Sight Reading for Strings (the “Pink”).  Most local music stores carry these, but call first. You can also get these on www.ILoveToReadMusic.com.  In our studio, we are serious about teaching Suzuki students to read and sight read well.  Students love it and it makes the Suzuki & orchestra experience so much more meaningful and efficient, creating true musicians, not just good players.
  • An instrument sized to your child BY ME.  Please do this before going to the music store, and then take this list with you.  There are many sizes, and music stores tend to size too large.  With the instrument, you will receive a bow, case and rosin.  I prefer a good wooden bow, but if you must decide between a cheap wood bow and fiberglass, specify a Deluxe Glasser with horsehair.  I’ve just found through the years that children get used to the indestructibleness of the fiberglass bows, and aren’t as careful later with a wooden bow.  Get a Wittner tailpiece, Dominant strings, and EBONY fittings, pegs, fingerboard, and chin rest, no “nibs” on the pegs. For violins and violas, get a PolyPad shoulder rest, or a “Shoulder Cradle,” not a Resonans, Everest, Kuns or their look-alikes.  Celli and basses, get a “Stoppin,” strap, “Black Hole” or credit card rock stop. By the concerto stage in Book 4 or 5, you will want to upgrade your instrument to a lovely, handmade, professional quality, ($2000-5000) with a Pernambuco wooden bow, ($350+), and by 9th grade plan on about $4000-$6000 for your full-size.  In between the 1/16th and 4/4 sizes, a Pygmalius is a WONDERFUL student instrument; it costs more but is well-worth it and doesn’t lose its value as fast as the more economical varieties.   Please get the best instrument you can possibly afford, never, NEVER a cheap UVSO (Unidentified Violin-Shaped Object) from the internet.  Thanks.

  General Information about Group Lesson: a plus for the private student

Group instruction has many advantages.  It gives the students an opportunity to share some of their learning experiences in a group situation.  Classes provide a welcome change in the routine of regular lessons and practice.  Peer stimulation encourages a better performance. Students have an opportunity to play together to review old literature. Usually, the student will be getting more instruction time than he would in a normal private lesson. It gives the student regular opportunities to perform, developing his poise and self-confidence. It gives the student regular opportunities to learn to LISTEN TO MUSIC actively and imaginatively, specifically Suzuki repertoire being played together and by peers.  Auditors should be as attentive as the performers so that all are having a musical and educational experience at all times.

More than half of the time will be Master Classes; another portion will be Big Group, i.e., playing together in unison; a third portion will be pre-formed ensemble rehearsal, a most valuable and enjoyable pastime. We also rehearse for state and regional Suzuki activities, graduation, Institute repertoire, and Celebration during group class.

Group lessons produce a generation of performers who play for others with more confidence, ease, and enjoyment, anxiety-free, and who also are able to LISTEN to music intelligently and imaginatively.

Class Organization:  Students are placed in groups according to their age, grade, instrument, and level of playing.  Each class contains up to eight students.  Payment for group lessons are included in the private lesson fee. There will be one group lesson every month for each student.  Usually no private lessons will be held the week of class.  Parents must attend group class with their children.  Please don’t drop off your young child at group and expect me to “tend” children instead of teach.  Each student will perform for 3-15 minutes and the remainder of the class time may be spent in other activities, such as listening, group playing, evaluating, and ensemble playing.  Students are expected to play all pieces memorized, and the goal for class is, of course, NOTE PERFECT.  Children must arrive on time for their class and stay the full time.  Parents, in an emergency, need stay only for their child’s performance, but I recommend that you stay the full time.  The purpose of the class is to stimulate the members of your class by your excellent progress of the month and be stimulated by theirs, learn new repertoire, hear others’ master class, perform yourself as if in recital, make musical friends (others who have the same musical goals and interests as you,) share musical ideas and problems, and be motivated by group performance.

If you leave early or come late, it must be for an emergency, and I should be notified in advance, if possible.  Do not leave in the middle of the class unless you are a parent, and then only between pieces, not during a piece.  If you leave early or come late to group class, you will not be allowed to perform.  Also, NO other children (non-performers,) especially noisy toddlers, may be brought to group.  The room is too small and they are too distracting.  Besides nursing babies, siblings in a later or earlier class are the only exception, and they must remain in the studio and listen quietly, NOT go into the other areas of my home.  Please observe the rule of absolutely NO talking during performances.

Arrive no more than five minutes early and maybe help set up chairs.  Bring your Suzuki book and your lesson notebook for you or me to take notes. Students may not play in the front room during another class, nor play with the lesson (laundry room) toys. Please try to arrange your schedule so that you can be at the group class, which is only once a month.  Be flexible with the occasional changes which I must make in the schedule to maintain a more educational group.  I appreciate your cooperation in this matter.

I think both parents and students will be pleased with the results of the performance classes.  They have proven effective over and over by professional teachers around the world and many articles have been written about how successful they are in inspiring students to achieve.  After teaching group classes for nearly thirty years, I can say unequivocally, that I would not teach private lessons without them.  The only way to become a good performer is to perform frequently.  Come prepared and enjoy each other.  I expect all my students to participate in the group lessons, which I’ve found invaluable for the private student.  There will be no exceptions.

ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR YOUR SUZUKI MUSIC LESSONS

The Suzuki Association of America says:

“About younger brothers and sisters at the lesson…they are always welcome to come, to listen, and to learn, but this must never be at the expense of the child receiving instruction.” I have found the best students are siblings who have attended the family lessons since birth, but these children must be controlled and taught to respect the situation.   Unfortunately, siblings brought to the lessons have created quite a distraction for the students, for the parent, and for me.  If siblings do come, they must sit quietly and listen to the lesson, perhaps reading a book or doing homework, or playing quietly with small toys. They MUST NOT go through my house, get in the fridge, watch TV, stay outdoors, jump on the trampoline, go to the restroom unattended, use the bikes, etc.  At lessons, PLEASE don’t ask me to let your children go into the other room or play outside, as this makes me extremely uncomfortable.  Please respect the privacy of my home and family.  If babies or extra sibs are not cooperative, try to make arrangements to leave them home or have them picked up after their lesson, so all of your (and my) attention can be centered on your student.  Of course, nursing babies are ALWAYS welcome.

More suggestions from the Suzuki Parent Training:  Come early to lessons and /or stay late to observe others’ lessons.  I require one observation a week for at least the first year. Remain silent during lessons unless I ask you a question.  Don’t “coach” or harass your child, or make sign language to your child.  Please allow ME to teach the lesson.  Dr. Suzuki says, “One teacher [only,] please!”  The child should not talk during lessons unless asked.  Please reinforce this direction and “practice” it at home. Write down your questions, and then ask until you understand, and ask before the next student comes.  You may need to give me the “time’s up” sign a little early.  Also, if you are the last lesson of the day, kindly help me by planning to leave at the end of your lesson time so I can make dinner and join my family. You will find I am a “talker” and it irritates me to find I have gone over time on the last lesson.

Try video recording a lesson or a practice session.

Read all you can on the Suzuki philosophy and other parents’ suggestions.

Join parents’ organization and attend workshops, institutes, and play-ins.  The motivation these give you and your child is WELL worth the cost.

Give ample performance opportunities, including weekly recitals for Dad.  These are helpful and FUN.  Our family counted them as Sunday practice sessions on the 100 Days in a Row program.

Attend concerts and recitals.  I realize I’m a fanatic at supporting my children and students, but I attend over 50 concerts a year, including not just Suzuki recitals, but other student concerts, plays, musicals, and professional concerts.

The best advice I can give for your Suzuki music lessons: do more listening to the Suzuki CD. I’ve found this to be of INCOMPARABLE value in helping students learn faster and better, and in increasing their self-esteem, because they find they are “good” at learning music.  It is a painless, inexpensive gift you can give to your child, this gift of “talent.”

Parent, pay close attention at lessons.  Sit where you can see what I’m doing.  Please don’t read, text, or work on other materials.  You are the teacher at home, and you learn how to do it by watching me at lessons. Follow my procedures at your practice sessions, use my terms, practice order, and language, use the bow with “Good morning, Mrs. Willey” or “Mother,” “Thank you, Mother,” etc.  It is very obvious to me when you do not practice the way I teach, wasting our time and your money.

Come prepared.   Kindly do not explain to me in front of your child how terrible the practice is going.  The child’s performance will reveal the results of the practice. Each parent makes (or breaks) her child’s lesson according to the daily practice.  The best cure for a poor lesson is better, CONSISTENT practice, even a minimal amount each day.

If you have requests, concerns, problems, etc., with our lessons, please know the door is open to talk about them.  Just leave your child home one week and we can discuss. There will come a day when it is time to move on to a new teacher.  I’d like to be part of selecting him/her.  You need to give me two months’ notice.

The Suzuki method is a joyful way to learn only if the daily work is completed at home.  Unprepared students have an unhappy time at lessons, despite my best efforts, and I consider this the parent’s responsibility. It is very discouraging for the child and me. The parent is the key player in the Suzuki triangle in my estimation. If a parent is not following the program (i.e., not practicing regularly with the child, playing the CD 8-10 hours a day/night, following my instructions, or attending lessons), I will refer her/them to other teachers.  I cannot be effective in my teaching without the parent’s cooperation and efforts, and I refuse to sacrifice a child’s self-esteem in this way.

    Suzuki music lessons require a considerable time commitment.  If you are unable to invest the required time, or if your child is considerably older, it might be best to find a more traditional music teacher.  There are several excellent ones in the area to whom I can refer you.  If you don’t feel you can follow the Suzuki program, traditional lessons would be less frustrating to the child, parent, and teacher, and perhaps a better investment for you.  Lessons are a major monetary outlay, but are invaluable in the lives of children.  Obviously, you realize the short and long-term benefits—character development, good study and work habits, intellectual development, memory skills, feeling of accomplishment for a job well-done, self-worth from being prepared and doing ones best, poise, appreciation of fine music, etc; otherwise, you would be devoting your time and resources to other activities.

I believe in the Suzuki method for training children.  I did it for 30 years with my own children.  I feel the Suzuki music experience is one of the best things you can do for your young child’s mind and character IF the program is followed.  It is my wish that, working together, we can make this one of the most rewarding times of your family life.

Our goal is to produce beautiful human beings, not to train musicians or get ahead of another student.  We use Suzuki music lessons for character training.  Please, always make your child’s experience a positive one, regardless of how much musical or technical progress he may seem to be making.  Remember, it is not your child who is “trying out” the violin, viola, cello, or bass, but rather YOU and YOUR dedication and persistence AS A PARENT that are being “tried.”  The child CANNOT fail if we do our part.  I guarantee it.

 

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