Graduation requirements

Tom said: Oct 28, 2011
Tom Lee
Suzuki Association Member
Minneapolis, MN
7 posts

I’d like to hear other teachers’ input re: graduation requirements. So far I’ve graduated students from piano books 1 and 2. They’ve been required to play the entire book for me in a sitting. I know many other teachers do this. As some students approach the end of book 3 I’m wondering if others require this of book 3 graduates, and any other requirements you may have.
Thank you.

Melanie Drake said: Oct 28, 2011
Melanie Drake21 posts

I’ve been wondering the same thing. I’m a parent, not a teacher, but I wanted to share our school’s requirements. Once a student completes a book, a video recording of a sample of pieces/scales from the book is made. If the video is approved by the school’s president, a graduation recital is scheduled during which typically all the pieces are performed at once for family, friends, and other students. Apparently, there is no requirement to play all pieces at the recital, but I’ve never seen deviation from this guideline. There is sometimes even an “encore” demonstrating reading ability.

My son has spent the past few months just getting ready to record the video (book 1 guitar) and it’s been a challenge to keep everything in memory. I’m hesitant to move on to book 2 without having the recital out of the way, so to speak. His teacher typically has students play into book 2 before doing the video/recital.

Paula Bird said: Oct 28, 2011
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
348 posts

Typically it takes about 4 songs into tge new book before the last song in book 1 falls into place.

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio

Shoshannah said: Oct 28, 2011
Shoshannah Ebersole1 posts

With my students, they must pass each song individually with me accompanying on cello and all technique and scales with in the book as they learn it. They can be working on more than one piece at a time, though I prefer my younger students do not to have more than 3 pieces in the learning process at once. Once the student has completed and passed all the songs within the book, we prepare for a Book Recital. We set a date, I try to have them perform their Book Recital within 2-4 weeks of completing the book. I require supplemental pieces for books 4 and above, these pieces must be passed as they are learned and then performed as part of the Book Recital as well.

I instruct the parents and student to invited 10 Friends & Family for the Recital. This usually ends up with about 6 people. I recommend that they video and/or tape record the recital. I sometimes ask the student performing if my other students at a similar level may attend their Book Recital.

At the completion of the Book Recital I present my student with a Certificate of completetion. You can create these either on a computer or you can purchase fill in certificates from Office Supply Stores or Hobby/Craft Stores. The student and I also do a gift exchange. I enjoy getting music CD’s for students. This is a great way to introduce them to something new and fun in the music world. One of my very popular CD gifts is the Turtle Island String Quartet (Jazz String Quartet). By giving the students a CD of music they most likely haven’t heard before, it gives them incentive to practice so that at some point they might have the chance to play that kind of music. I’ve also given a set of tickets to a local music concert (such as a string quartet at a University) as a gift. Any gift I give I try to have some sort of musical and educational value, but still be fun and interesting for the student.

Tim Eckert said: Oct 28, 2011
Tim Eckert
Suzuki Association Member
Piano, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools
30 posts

Here, the teachers figured out a system of 3 grad pieces or movements per piano book, rather than students performing the whole book.

Inger Ross-Kristensen said: Oct 28, 2011
Inger Ross-Kristensen
Suzuki Association Member
Needham, MA
5 posts

I have a graduation from Suzuki Piano Vol 1, where the student plays the whole book and usually invites family and friends to come. They then go home to have a party. I give the student a T-shirt with the page of Little Playmates printed on. I record the graduation to my iTunes program, where every student has a recording file, and the family usually make a video tape.

For Vol 2 they get a T-shirt with Minuet 2 printed on it, but they don’t have to play the whole of Vol2, they get the shirt when they have recorded all of the pieces up to and including the four Bach minuets. I record all their finished pieces and make CDs for the students at the end of the school year with all their recordings on.

Hope this is helpful.


Tim Eckert said: Oct 28, 2011
Tim Eckert
Suzuki Association Member
Piano, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools
30 posts

Something happened to the rest of my answer:
For piano book 3, students perform the last Clementi sonatina, the Wild Rider, and a third short piece of their choice (Teasing Song, Ecossaise, or Theme).

Karen said: Oct 29, 2011
Karen Huffman
Suzuki Association Member
Piano, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Portland, OR
25 posts

Mine is closer to Tim Eckert’s version. I, and several other teachers in the area, have a program where the child records their graduation piece (Allegro for Book 1, Minuet 2 for Book 2 and Clementi Op 36 #3 for Book 3) and then that recording is sent to another teacher. The teacher writes comments, compliments, whatever, and that is sent back to the child. At the end of the year, there is also a graduation recital (between all four studios) where graduating students play 1 or 2 pieces. These can be graduation pieces or other pieces they have perfected in the meantime. The students receive a trophy and certificate at this recital also.

Lori Bolt said: Oct 29, 2011
Lori BoltPiano
San Clemente, CA
209 posts

I too have developed a combination of what others have shared here—students give either a private book Graduation in their home w/ family, friends, and myself or they perform at one of my studio Piano Parties (informal recitals) w/other students, parents present. I do not have them perform the entire book—we make “guided” selections as student nears the last piece. Of course, they have already shown me their ability to play each piece. I also give certificates.

I like the gift idea, Shoshanna and Inger!
Inger, do have the T-shirts printed yourself or is there a source to order them?

I also like the recording ideas.

Lori Bolt

Barb said: Oct 30, 2011
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
675 posts

Graduation certificates are available from the SAA store:
You email the info to print and they print for you. $3 each, no shipping.

I have not been teaching long, so I only have one child student who has completed book 1. I encouraged her and her mother to arrange a graduation recital either in their home or through me at a local church which doesn’t charge for use, or make a recording. The mother seemed too overwhelmed at the idea, though I knew the student was fully capable of playing all of book 1, and has performed all of the pieces with others or as a solo.

It’s looking like she’s not getting a graduation certificate, but is happily working her way through book 2.

Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Lori Bolt said: Oct 31, 2011
Lori BoltPiano
San Clemente, CA
209 posts


Unless your student is so far into Bk. 2 that it’s a moot point, how about a “private” graduation at her lesson—or perform a graduation piece at one of your studio get-togethers—to mark the completion of Bk. 1. It seems a shame that she wouldn’t be able to celebrate the achievement and receive a certificate because of Mom’s reluctance to do anything else.

Lori Bolt

Mary Anne Polk O'Meara said: Nov 1, 2011
Mary Anne Polk O’Meara
Suzuki Association Member
16 posts

For book 1, all of our students (piano, cello and violin) play the whole book by memory, and one “show-off” piece, which is from book 2 or equivalent (e.g., a reading piece not from the Suzuki repertoire). They have to have learned at least the first piece in book 2 before scheduling the recital, which can either be at our school or in their home. After book 1, we allow the students to opt out of some of the pieces in the book for their recitals. Most of our students do the recitals and receive a Graduation Certificate and their name placed on a plaque in the hallway. But students can move on without doing the graduation, either by presenting a shorter, “Book Completion,” recital, for which they get a certificate but not their name on the plaque, or they can just go on without the recital. Some students do graduations for one book and not another.
Anyone who wants a whole copy of our policy, feel free to email me.

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