Traditional lessons—what age?

Barb said: Aug 13, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

For those of you who teach Suzuki but will transition to traditional style lessons, is there generally a minimum age at which you “release” the parents from the equation? (I’m sure that it’s different for different children—just curious about what you’ve found in general to work.)

I think the ideal is probably to gradually have this transition take place, but I have a less than ideal situation.

I have a student who has only limped along as the triangle has had a very weak corner in the parent. The parent-child relationship has not been great (lack of respect, power struggles, etc.), so she gets frustrated and gives up, leaving the student on his own. His motivation has not been high, so he rarely gives an honest effort. My feeling is that it’s time to take a break, and if he wants to come back on his own when he is more mature and can take full responsibility for his practice etc. we can try again. I’m thinking 12? He’s not a particularly mature 10 year old. If there were a traditional teacher in the area I would be happy to send them over, but that isn’t an option. It’s not that the parent doesn’t want Suzuki lessons, it’s just that she seems unable to follow through.

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

Amy said: Aug 14, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
50 posts

Barb,
Have you considered gradually preparing the student for lessons without the parent by training the student to take his own notes during lessons? If the student takes his own notes, he will feel more ownership in the practice process, and if one assignment every week is for him and his mom to compare their notes before any practice take place, it could present an opportunity to build mutual trust between parent and child. As you gain confidence in the child’s ability to work from his own notes, it may be appropriate to invite the mom not to be present for the lesson.

Good luck with it! Mostly, I feel a need to be sensitive to both parent and child, working with them towards a solution that will benefit the whole family as the child grows and matures.

Barb said: Aug 15, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Mostly, I feel a need to be sensitive to both parent and child, working with them towards a solution that will benefit the whole family as the child grows and matures.

Thanks, Amy, this is definitely in my consideration. I really think it’s NOT in their best interest to continue the way things have been going. This includes too many music lessons (piano twice a week, cello 1-2 times a week—though they missed most group classes, music theory/piano with a different piano teacher once a week) on top of other sports/club activities. Late last year the mom realized it was too much and dropped everything but music… but still believes in “trying everything”. It’s also NOT in their best interest to simply kick them out—the last thing this child needs is to feel rejected. That is why I wanted to offer an open door to come back when he’s more ready to work alone at home.

I don’t think it’s a good idea to be alone with a minor—especially one with lie-telling issues, so I’m not going to invite the parent to not be present at lessons.

As far as notes go, although the parent takes some (most of the time), I actually write out the assignments myself (that’s in another thread).

Cleo Ann Brimhall wrote this:

We are not teaching music—we are teaching the child. Never Hurt anybody’s Heart (Dr. Suzuki) He also taught that there no bad students, only bad parents. And there are no bad parents, only bad teachers. Parents need constant repetition and nurturing just as much as the child does.
in this thread.

It made me think that perhaps this parent just needs a real baby-step parent education with lots more repetition. She agrees with all the good info I’ve given her, but it doesn’t seem to stick, or maybe if it doesn’t magically solve all problems, she drops the idea? Anyway, I just don’t think this student is mature enough to go it alone yet, and if they want to continue lessons this year I will need to spend more time with Mom—maybe even some of each lesson, going over (and over, etc.) how they are going to practice.

She has already decided to give him the choice whether to continue with lessons, so, IF he/they wish to continue this year… they need to agree to work on working together, and she will need to be willing to continue with more parent education.

Sooo…. any further ideas on how to teach a child to respect his mother?? I will once again remind him (as per the Starrs’ book To Learn with Love) that Mom is my helper for home practice, and she will be reminding him what I want him to do, for one. I will see about having him take more ownership about what/ how he is to practice, too.

I think I’ll use the Parent’s Daily Dozen practice chart for them… maybe not implementing all at once, but take it in steps. There are reminders about many things that make a good practice for the parent to check off. I have a version of this from my book one training with Priscilla Jones, too.

All further ideas/input welcome!

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

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