Before You Begin Lessons

Dear Parents,

Congratulations on your decision to take Suzuki violin or viola lessons. This choice has the potential to greatly enhance your lives. One of the fundamental beliefs in the Suzuki method is that every child moves at their own pace. In practice, this can require lots and lots of patience! Managing anxiety (will he or she get it, why aren’t they moving faster?) can be one of the biggest challenges for parents. It can take some children two years or more to learn to play Twinkle. I have seen those same children develop the ability to play major concertos. We plant the seed, nurture it, and eventually growth happens.

DAILY PRACTICE

You should expect to practice with your child every single day. Dr. Suzuki said you only have to practice on the days you eat! Initially, the practice does not have to be for very long-five minutes might be enough to cover your assignment. It does, however, need to be consistent.

Practicing a small amount everyday will lead to better results than cramming a lot of time into only one or two days. Find a consistent practice time. Some families discover that practicing in the morning works for them. Practicing when your child is not tired or hungry is essential as resentment can build if they are always asked to focus at these times.

In the beginning, it is normal for a child to concentrate for five or ten minutes. Their attention span will grow over time. The additional lesson time will be used to help you cultivate tools for practicing with your child on the violin at home. These include the practical (helping you learn to tune the instrument, teaching you about fundamental violin/viola posture, etc.), as well as philosophical (Suzuki philosophy and the psychology of teaching violin at home). 

GROUP CLASS ATTENDANCE

In addition to our work in the private lesson, there are parent orientation classes taking place during the first four group classes. Attendance is required. These classes will help you tremendously with your home practice.

Suzuki students are required to attend a weekly group class. In addition to reinforcing skills they are learning in their lessons, they learn how to play in an ensemble. There is also a social aspect to the group. Kids are motivated when they get a chance to play their instruments with their friends.

CD or MP3

One of the biggest responsibility for parents is playing the recording everyday. When you first buy the recording, please make several copies of it. If you choose to burn extra CD's, place them wherever you have a stereo.  Place a copy in your car! Download it to your phone and/or ipod. The reason for doing this is twofold. First, if you should lose your CD, you have a back-up copy. I have had many families purchase it a second time because they lost their copy. Secondly, it makes it easier to do your daily listening if you are not always hunting for the recording.

It is also inspirational for children (and me!) to watch live and video taped performances. There are some videos on this website for you to explore.

LESSONS DAYS

All cell phones should be on silent. Please do bring them, however, as video taping portions of your lesson can be an amazing resource for your home practice.

Bring a notebook to your lesson. The parents’ role is to carefully observe and take notes so you can comfortably be the home teacher. As difficult as it is, please refrain from correcting or talking directly to your child (unless it is an exclamation of praise!) once our lesson begins. It can be confusing for a child to try to divide their attention among the demands from many adults. If you have questions, you can indicate this in the lesson, and I will leave a little time at the end to address your concerns.

REQUIRED MATERIALS

    Suzuki Book 1 and CD
    Nurtured By Love by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki
    Helping Parents Practice: Ideas for Making It Easier by Edmund Sprunger (Order from                   www.sharmusic.com).
    A notebook

The Suzuki book,  CD, and Nurtured By Love are available for purchase at MIC. Please talk to a campus coordinator. They are also available for purchase through stores and websites, some of which are listed on this website.

FOR THE YOUNG BEGINNER

If your child is starting between the ages of 3 1/2-6, please do not rent an instrument right away. We will be working on a box violin until certain skills are in place. The box can be ordered from Shar. Their phone number is 1-800-248-SHAR. Here is a link to the website: http://www.sharmusic.com/Shop-Shar/Suzuki/Parent-Materials/All/Cherub-Box-Violin-and-Bow.axd 
Even if your child is older, you do not need a violin for your first lesson.

INSTRUMENT RENTAL

When I indicate your child is ready to begin on an instrument, this website has listings for suggested shops under the heading "Violin and Viola Shops". Please ask them to use Dominant strings or Vision strings. The shops should be willing to do this without additional charges.

Please ask that they include a dust cloth, rosin, and a shoulder rest in the case. Although rosin is generally always included (it never hurts to check!), you will need to request a dust cloth. Students typically begin by using a foam shoulder rest. Some shops include one, but many do not. At Seman violins, for example, you will need to request one. It is not necessary to purchase a Kun (bar shoulder rest) or something more expensive initially. If I feel your child needs one, I will let you know in the lesson.

I would prefer that the violin is either a little small or exactly the right size. You should never have an instrument that your child will "grow into". Instruments that are too large cause posture problems. Your child may have difficulty holding it up, bowing issues, etc. If an instrument is too large, I will ask you to return it for a smaller size.

PURCHASE A TUNER OR TUNER APP

Unless you already have a trained ear from long study of an instrument, you will need to purchase a tuner. I will teach you the mechanics of tuning in the lesson. If you have a phone with apps, you will be able to download a free one. One recommendation is an app called "Tun-D".

If you decide to purchase a tuner, any tuner is fine. You should be able to find one of these for around $15-25 at either a violin or guitar shop, or through Shar.

I look forward to seeing you in your lessons!

Sincerely,

Vannia Phillips

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