Article - Using Philosophy in Lessons

by Marylou

Using the basic ideas that Dr. Suzuki presented throughout his life in the individual lesson is a practical approach to living the philosophy.  In this article, I would like to present a few of these ways, to encourage participation in the practical application of this beautiful way of teaching.

Success creates more Success
It is essential to begin with what the child can do easily and well.  Each starting point can then build to the next success.  Previous material is exercised and becomes stronger, making the next step more attainable.  Increasing the difficulty in a gradual way gives the teacher a chance for positive descriptions, which will increase the awareness of each skill.  Finding this balanced process takes practice, keen observation, study and time.  Getting the student to achieve success at a newer task takes knowledge of many approaches, technical skills, good communication of fine details and encouragement.  Staying on the same task long enough to get real results also takes practice, persistence and insight.  Students find great pleasure in each success, and parents are happy too.

Nurtured by Love
As teachers, we have a chance to make a real difference in the lives of our students and their parents.  If we pause to gaze at the child before us, think about what a wonderful life force is at work.  Really tune in to each person.  The unaware child is not just spacing out, can you see that they are lost when it comes to focus?  The wiggly child has so much energy, can you see that energy at work and use it as a learning tool?  The social child in group class might present challenges, or is this child reminding you to use the social nature of each child to build bonds of musical friendship.  The child who is afraid of challenges may need your loving persistence to get over being afraid.  The busy parent may be so busy they don't notice the changes and progress from week to week, and how wonderful it is to see!  Looking upon each child in this way is our education as teachers.  

Use the Environment
Each group class or lesson is an environment that can be prepared.  Be aware that you create this environment, and cultivate a space that invites beautiful music.  Actions are at work here, tone of voice communicates above and beyond words, eye contact speaks volumes.  Contribute to this environment, and model for the parents so they can continue at home.  Design the lessons with the parent in mind, giving activities that are easily doable at home.  Instruct the parents in the steps, help them choose the right words by giving clear directions.  This too takes practice and training to find our own way, our teaching voice.  We need to see lots of different examples, have interesting discussions, try new ideas, design new activities.  Using technology in our time takes on new meaning, with phones that may record that new skill for use at home.  Video examples help us teach concepts.  A recent example of this is "The Marshmallow Test" which is on Youtube.  It depicts delayed gratification and satisfaction and speaks volumes about the learning process, persistence, and delayed gratification in 3 minutes time.  Students may realize more from this video about being patient with the process than anything else we could give them.  It's a major part of the world, the new environment.
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