Struggling with transition from Suzuki—in Central Asia

Julia Southfield said: Sep 19, 2011
 1 posts

My daughter is 7 years old and has had a very positive experience playing Suzuki violin for the last three years. Since we are a foreign service family we have just relocated to Central Asia. Asking around our English speaking community here, we have not found anyone who teaches using Suzuki method (and in fact a general lack of understanding as to what Suzuki even is). We have had an initial lesson with a local teacher who was surprised to discover that our daughter couldn’t’ read music and clearly uncomfortable understanding how she could teach her to play. My daughter wants to continue to play, but in the event that we cannot find a Suzuki teacher (and we would appreciate references on that front), what is the best way to transition to a traditional teaching method? Given that my entire experience with violin learning is with Suzuki, I am not even sure I know what “traditional” means.

Thank you for any advice you may have.

Ruth Brons said: Sep 19, 2011
Ruth Brons
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Livingston, NJ
148 posts

While a cornerstone of the Suzuki method is delayed reading, it should not be mistaken with NEVER learning to read. Now that your daughter is 7 years old, and most likely a reader or emergent reader of written language, and has three years of violin playing and music listening under her belt, it may well be time to introduce music reading. Of course it will take a while for her fluency in reading to catch up to her general playing level, but it is that way for everyone. If possible try a sample lesson with a few local teachers and go with the teacher with whom your daughter best connects.

Rachel Schott said: Sep 20, 2011
Rachel SchottViolin
Harrogate, TN
127 posts

Hi Julia!

Speaking generally, the things that set Suzuki teachers apart from traditional is that we
1. Insist that the parent help at home
2.Teach through listening instead of reading, at least initially
3. Begin at younger age than many teachers will
4. Insist on excellent technique (bow hold, violin hold, etc) from the beginning.

My reccomendation is that you:
1. Stay involved in the lessons, even if the teacher isn’t accustomed to it. Keep taking notes, asking questions, practicing with your daughter at home.
2. Keep listening to beautiful violin music at home so that she understand the tone she is aiming for, but speak happily of the upcoming challenge of learning songs by reading them.
3. She already began at 4 years old, so you’ve got that covered!
4. Keep insisting on the fine bow hold and violin hold you learned from your other teachers. Even if your new teacher never mentions it, be constantly aware your daughter is playing with strong, relaxed muscles. (Many teachers think that children simply don’t care and aren’t willing to learn to hold their instruments correctly. Ask questions and show that you are eager to help her maintain her fine posture).

One more thing, you might say humbly “My daughter enjoys the violin very much, but doesn’t know how to read music. Can you please teach us how to read the page?” This may help you and the new teacher establish a common place from which to start.

Please keep us posted!

Leslie said: Sep 23, 2011
Leslie ThackerayInstitute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Taylorsville, UT
26 posts

You may want to consider Skype lessons with a teacher in the states. I’ve heard of people doing that, and although it’s harder it’s been done.

Leslie Thackeray
Make Practicing Fun!

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