When my daughter Sarah was 9 she wanted very much to play the harp, and the only harp teacher a reasonable distance was a Suzuki method harp teacher. I was skeptical. Some people say the Suzuki Method doesn’t teach to read music. That seemed like a pretty big handicap. But we started lessons. By the time my daughter had taken a year of lessons, I was so impressed by how she was doing that I went searching for a Suzuki violin teacher for my second daughter. Then a third daughter started violin with that same teacher, and when my son wanted to play the cello, nothing but a Suzuki cello teacher would do. My kids were thriving in their music lessons. They were strong in the technique of their instruments, they made beautiful music even at their beginning stages, and I was amazed at how quickly they learned complicated pieces of music, and could play them completely without music. They could hear the music in their head and find those notes on their instrument. They could feel the proper tempo and rhythm because they had listened to recordings of the music. And because I attended each lesson and practiced with them daily, they did exactly what the teacher had assigned in an accurate manner. Their progress was rapid and very rewarding.
But what about reading music? Depending on their readiness, each one began to read music about a year after beginning lessons. The reading assignments were separate from the more advanced pieces of music they were learning, but their progress in reading was rapid. It really was the easiest part. For a while they could play much more advanced pieces than they could actually read, but soon their reading skills caught up with their playing skills. By the time each one was in Junior High, they were strong leaders in the local youth symphony, reading and playing complex music.
Today my three oldest children are playing and teaching music, and the youngest plays in her college orchestra. The harpist has a Masters Degree in harp performance and has chosen music as her career. I always knew that music lessons would be as important for my children as feeding and clothing them. I knew the character that it would build into their lives, and that music is a gift I gave my children so that they could spend the rest of their lives giving that gift to others.
The Suzuki Strings played the National Anthem at a Quincy Gems game this summer.
The Suzuki Method of teaching is complex, and to effectively teach it one must go through a series of training courses. It is so much more than just ordering the books from Amazon and teaching from them. As my children grew older I began my own Suzuki journey, and now have Suzuki training as well as ten years of teaching experience. It is my joy to watch this method of teaching the violin bring parents and families together, and to build character and beauty into each student that I teach. The concert on October 30 is more than just some students playing their violins. It is a community of children and teens, who have shared this wonderful experience with each other, some for many years. Many of them are siblings learning together, and will play as a family in this concert. My own daughters will be with me, leading the music and accompanying on the piano.