non-suzuki Summer teacher?


Nora Friedman said: May 20, 2012
Nora Friedman
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools
Brooklyn, NY
37 posts

Hi there!

I have a violin student who just began this year and is still on open E string Twinkle rhythms. Her family is very committed but goes away for the summers to Block Island, which is very small. Mom already researched whether they could find a Suzuki teacher for the summer until they return, but came up empty-handed. She did find a number of violin teachers who teach traditional methods. I want to know all of your thoughts about whether she should take lessons with someone else who is non-Suzuki this summer or whether you think it would be better for her not to take lessons until she returns in August. If you think it may be worth it, what kinds of things could she ask the private teacher to vet whether it would be a good match?

Thanks everyone!


Sue Hunt said: May 21, 2012
Sue HuntViola, Violin
403 posts

This is a dilemma which I remember well from my parent days. Going for a whole summer without lessons seemed an eternity. After weekly lessons all year, I couldn’t visualise practice in terms of a couple of months. I was worried about getting bored with what we were practising and not being able to move forward to keep the children’s interest.

Nowadays, as a teacher, I see the summer practice as an opportunity for consolidating what has been learnt during the year. You need to be very specific about what you want done, or practice can get frittered away.

For parents like me, who panic about the responsibility of being in sole charge for the holiday, Mom and I make a timetable with specific things to do each week. If you have been making reference recordings and videos on Mom’s smart phone, she will be able to refer to them for help. You don’t want them to race ahead, but sometimes, parents get frustrated at having to practise the same thing over and over. For this reason, I also send them with a stack of practice games to choose from. If they really are keen, it might be an idea time to start a 100 Day Practice Challenge.

Don’t look for a summer teacher. All teachers have their own way of doing things. Having a different teacher, especially at this early stage, can introduce all sorts of unhelpful habits, which take ages to undo and replace. All Mom needs to do, is to practise what you want, in the way that you have requested, each week. Make it simple and easy for them and they will be beautifully prepared for next year’s teaching.

Music in Practice

Irene Mitchell said: May 21, 2012
Irene Mitchell
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Dallas, TX
114 posts

Last summer a non-trained teacher worked with one of my families and it took until December to undo the confusion :o((( groan!
“Skype”-ing lessons with you might work pretty well if they have internet on the island; it’s a little tricky to teach/learn this way, but worth it.
“Skype” is a free video connection between computers… “Facetime” on iphones also works in more remote areas.
Good luck!

Irene Mitchell

Nora Friedman said: May 21, 2012
Nora Friedman
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools
Brooklyn, NY
37 posts

wow! This was incredibly helpful already! Thank you so much for everything.

JoAnn said: May 21, 2012
 20 posts

I totally concur with Sue and Irene— Having the child study with a non-Suzuki trained teacher- even if they say they “use the materials” will only be confusing and will very most likely require back-tracking when she returns. Sue’s ideas are great!

Anita said: May 22, 2012
 40 posts

I guess, as a parent, I have a different view of things. Why not look for a different kind of music teacher altogether—like, a mariachi teacher or a fiddle teacher or a jazz teacher? My kids have 2 teachers with 2 very different approaches—fiddle and Suzuki. While the fiddle teacher knows about Suzuki, and even uses some of the material in her regular teaching, she uses color coded numbers to teach the kids new fiddle tunes. My kids have benefited from BOTH approaches—not only could they take one quick glance at the Suzuki Book 1 numbers above all the notes and understand them, they’ve also been introduced to all sorts of new and different things on the violin that make practicing FUN. In addition, the second form of music shows them that they can do many, many different things with their instrument. Fiddle tunes are quick and easy to learn, at least at the beginning, and boost confidence and a feeling of accomplishment on the instrument. I may add, they’ve done fiddling as long as they’ve done Suzuki—about four years, concurrently. The fiddle teacher does defer to the Suzuki teacher on most all things (they are professional friends), except the finer points of fiddling, and the Suzuki teacher has embraced the fiddle teacher in many ways, even promoting participation in a local fiddle contest by her regular students. One of the regular Suzuki students won her age division! I think it’s all a matter of perspective. As a parent, you’ll know after the first 2 or 3 lessons whether the teacher is “good” for your child. You are, after all, your child’s first and most important teacher.


Cheryl said: May 22, 2012
Cheryl Terry
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Cello, Viola
El Paso, TX
3 posts

Doing two different styles with two different teachers is different than taking lessons from a traditional non-trained Suzuki teacher. Other styles are great if you can find them where you are going. I say if you want to continue in the same vein of music SKYPE. It has been very successful for me. I have one going to Puerto Rico in June and we are already thinking ahead to what we can do on SKYPE while they are there and I am here.

Sarah Coley said: May 22, 2012
Sarah Coley
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
36 posts

Hi, Cheryl! (We did training together 2 years ago in Albuquerque.) I echo the Skype idea, which I first heard of Cheryl at institute actually. Skype is not ideal, because we prefer one-on-one of course (!); but it works well for temporary situations or for students who move and there is no Suzuki teacher near them. I recently had a student who moved across the country (and due to a variety of circumstances), we have been Skyping her lessons this past school year. I think that I would explore the possibility of Skype lessons with your young student rather than going with a traditional teacher. I have heard from various teacher that sometimes that switching to a traditional teacher (especially in the beginning when parents are on board with everything, etc.) can be a recipe for disaster. I think that it can be beneficial for students to receive different perspectives by studying with a variety of teachers (hence institutes :) ), but not sure that I would be okay with sending one of my own students to study with a traditional teachers for a few months unless they were well beyond Book 1.

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