Regardless of the parent's musical background every
parent has much to contribute to the musical growth of their child.
The role of parents in the instructional process evolves with the age
and experience of the child. Understandably the young
preschool child requires much more hands on support than an older
student who desires more independence in the educational process.
Dr. Suzuki discovered intuitively that parents have
a significant impact on the environment of their child. As
adults we are walking talking environments in and of ourselves.
Even if we are not trained musicians, we have the potential to make rich
cultural contributions to their lives by being engaged in the learning
process. Dr. Suzuki observed that as toddlers, younger
siblings desired to do what their older siblings were doing and that
even as preschoolers they still wanted to try everything that their
parents could do. When ever possible in the Japanese model
of Suzuki Method, parents begin taking musical instruction before the
child begins so that parents can provide a role model for the child.
Even though Americans parents are very busy I encourage you to consider
studying as much as you can about the violin while your child is young.
This does not mean that the parent needs to become a
expert at the violin. The parent simply needs to model being
an attentive beginning student. The child is imitating the
learning process of the parent. We now know that there is a
neuron in our brains that sets us up to learn from one another called
the Mirror Neuron, what most moms commonly the world over recognize as
"Monkey see, Monkey do". If we try to sweep the kitchen
floor the child needs to help us sweep the floor. If we have
a shopping cart to push the child also wants a shopping cart to push.
This neuron not only helps children model and
imitate our physical abilities but it also has an emotional component
related to empathy. The empathy side of this neuron system helps
the child understand and guess what our motivations are for wanting to
do something. This is also the neuron that makes our babies
curious. I. E. 'How many times will mommy pick up my spoon if I
drop it.' Children are busy researchers from the first day of
class trying to understand how their environment works. As
parents we are their most intimate subjects.
Required Reading for parents
There is a growing bibliography of books about the Suzuki Method and
what I call Musical Parenting. If you are
starting a young child I encourage you to get a head start by reading as
much as you can before starting instruction. You will need
time to absorb new ideas and plan ahead to organize your environment for
I recommend getting a copy of
from Age Zero By Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. as a good starting place.
The chapters are only a few pages long. This book is also focused
on Dr. Suzuki's Philosophy and how it concerns parenting.
If you would like to read more about the history and development of the
method, Nurtured by
Love is an inspiring autobiography translated by his wife. If
you prefer watching a general over view there is a
DVD by the same
There are other books that I would consider as guides and aids for
instruction. They’re Rarely Too Young…and Never Too Old to
Twinkle by Kay Collier Slone is a guide that I require the parents of
Younger students to obtain when they start instruction. It
will provide you a foundation for many of the PreTwinkle Activities that
New families are encouraged to observe before registering for classes
in the studio. But this should be seen as a cursory exposure
to the teaching that is occurring in our program. It is not
enough to only attend your own lessons. Observing other
students is an important way of helping your child learn.
You will both see things when watching another student that you might not be able to see
when you are the student. Observing a more advanced student gives your child
perspective on where they are going in the future and hopefully some
much needed inspiration and motivation.
Additionally, the more that you can observe instruction in the studio
the less mysterious the process will seem. As the parent,
many of the techniques that I am asking your child to use in their
lessons will become more meaningful if one can see how much they matter
to success of the student down the road.
The engineer of your child's environment
As the parent of a young student you are very much in charge of
scheduling and organizing the inputs to your child's environment.
You will want to look for opportunities to schedule listening and
practicing that work for you and your child. You will want to
locate resources where they are most convenient to find or operate for
the purposes of daily listening or practicing.
While you will receive some suggestions from your teacher you are in
charge of motivation outside of the classroom. Additional ideas to
be found in the literature on the Suzuki Method or in the Suzuki
parenting community. Once you plug into it you will find that it
is an ongoing discussion with other parents who are looking for
solutions to many of the same concerns you have about keep your child
excited about practicing. Keeping a child motivated about
something as demanding as studying music is a big job and you are not
expected to do it by yourself. As parents you know even more than
your teacher knows about what works for your child. You are the one
who is best qualified to set goals and celebrations.
Remember to organize opportunities for inspiration. As parents
of young children you have the influence to choose the musical role
models they are exposed to. Take advantage of the information that
this teacher shares on her Blog and Calendar to find affordable musical
performances that are appropriate. You can also visit the
site for a free concert from one of her play list.
In the classroom
Pictures and recordings