Need advice on a 3.5 years old who progress too fast in Suzuki Piano

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Lily Valley said: Mar 14, 2013
 3 posts

I have a 3.5 years old boy. He started taking Suzuki lessons 2 months ago. He is progressing very fast. He is now able to play Cuckoo in both hands (left hand: chord, right hand: melody). He has photographic memory, so he memorizes the rhythms and hand positions and etc. very fast. He had been listening to Suzuki CDs a week before he started private piano lesson. By the time the lesson started, he was able to play all Twinkle variations using right index finger. His English reading level is between 1st and 2nd grade. He knows all the note names after being taught a couple of times. Besides the Suzuki pieces, he is also learning other songs, mostly self taught. His brain is so much more advanced than his fingers. His fingers are not curved when he plays. I think the fingers are not ready to do this yet. He spends lots of time in front of piano, besides our normal practice time. He explores it, and tries out different sounds, learns other songs, pretends to play like a real pianist. I am a little worried that his current postures and techniques will be hard to change over time, since he plays so much piano.

Do you think he is gifted in learning music? I do not know enough kids to benchmark. I have an older son who has been playing piano for 2 years, but he progresses as a typical kid.

Our current Suzuki teacher is certified in level 1. It is hard for us to find a piano teacher who is certified beyond beginner’s level, and has at least a few years experience dealing with kids of various capabilities. I found one teacher, who teaches at a local music school, but the cost is like twice as expensive as that of a typical lesson (students also need to committed for 2 semesters), and the commute is 2 hours round trip. I do not know if it is worthwhile for us to invest this much time and money for him.

I know a very good traditional piano teacher. I wonder if anyone has tried to have 2 teachers, one teaches Suzuki and the other traditional? Note reading for my son should be really easy, and does not add burden to him.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Kiyoko said: Mar 15, 2013
 84 posts

If you aren’t sure about a new teacher after interviewing with them, may I suggest a trial lesson? It may help you assess whether they are a good fit for you right now and if not, when they would become a good fit. Considering that you will eventually need to transition to a more advanced Suzuki teacher, it might help to explore transitioning sooner. The more advanced teacher might be better able to adjust to his quick learning style and help solidify the basics.

Also, you will get a better sense of how well your son can tolerate the commute. At that age, they develop so fast (and it sounds like even faster in your case), in a year or sooner, your concerns may be alleviated. As for cost, only you can decide what is worthwhile for you and your son.

As for Suzuki or traditional, at his age, the Suzuki method holds distinct benefits. He will have access to peers in Suzuki that are his age and at similar proficiency throughout his childhood. Not to mention Suzuki workshops and programs worldwide, geared for children his age and skill level. Suzuki teachers are not only trained to teach music, but also addressing various child development challenges—an aspect that may very well benefit your son’s tremendous thirst for knowledge.

It is wonderful to hear that your son likes to spend so much time in front of the piano and that he is so focused. Sometimes there is a lot of talk about developing bad habits, but we all have had them and overcome them. First off, your son is taking lessons so there is focus on developing correct posture and technique. Secondly, your son sounds like an inquisitive child—one that thrives on his curiosity and exploration. If it helps, when you see things that he has been taught that could be corrected during his non practice time, you might gently correct him—maybe by asking him to demonstrate the proper way.

Wishing you well in finding what will work best for you and your son.

Phankao said: Mar 17, 2013
Phankao WanPiano, Viola, Violin
128 posts

What do you consider as “progresses as a typical kid”? My boy was doing Suzuki book 2 when he turned 4yo, but I find that he’s nothing unusual? I don’t find it “fast”?

Lily Valley said: Mar 19, 2013
 3 posts

Dear Kiyoko, thank you for your insights. I will follow some of your suggestions. We are going to have a trial lesson this coming Friday.

Lily Valley said: Mar 19, 2013
 3 posts

Dear phankao, I was told that he was progressing very fast by the piano teacher, and the others. They told me that most kids after 6 lessons, are playing the twinkle variations using hands separately.

I am sure your son is very bright and talented, and you must be very proud of him. I am not trying to compare my son with others, but trying to find a teacher or a way that could best nurture him musically.

Phankao said: Mar 19, 2013
Phankao WanPiano, Viola, Violin
128 posts

Oh, alright. It’s his teacher who mentioned it. My boy’s teacher never expressed anything, but she’s really a gem and great in guiding him.

Yes, do try out a new teacher if you feel that it would be better for him. My boy does violin as well, and I’ve changed teachers and taken break from lessons based simply by gut feel on what works/does not work for him.

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