Suzuki without a teacher?

Diana Chen said: Feb 20, 2014
 3 posts

Hi I just signed up. My three children were introduced to violin by the only Suzuki teacher here in Jamaica (where we are from and where we live). Unfortunately she’s retiring (she’s been doing it for over 30 years) and she is phasing her students out, so my 4 year old twins are now doing lessons with one of her former students (who is not Suzuki trained but is teaching them using the method as he knows it—I don’t know how much he is winging it or really following the method), and my 8 year old has moved on to the cello and her teacher is not doing Suzuki at all (she reads music as she has done piano for three years, not Suzuki.)

I love the Suzuki method and everything that comes with it. I even have my own violin! I’ve just learned about this website (which I have already learned so much from!) and the summer institutes and would love to take my family to one (maybe next year). But given that none of my children are in official Suzuki programmes now, and there is no Suzuki teacher for them to learn with in the forseeable future, is it possible for us to be a part of the Suzuki world? To attend summer institutes?

Mengwei Shen said: Feb 23, 2014
Mengwei Shen
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Cello
Jersey City, NJ
220 posts

Has your teacher’s former student shared anything about his goals, such as if he is interested in taking teacher training courses? Keep in mind that it’s possible for someone who hasn’t taken sponsored teacher training to still teach “like a Suzuki teacher” (especially if he was heavily influenced by the retiring teacher), and even among “Suzuki-trained teachers” there will still be differences in how they work.

When institutes require that participating students study with a Suzuki teacher, my take is that they want to ensure that 1) as a practical matter, the students know the repertoire and 2) the family has an idea (via their teacher’s guidance) of what they’re getting into. They want you to have a good experience there and it’s definitely hard to do that if you don’t know the pieces and aren’t on board with the underlying philosophy! I’d think if you were to contact a program that you want to attend and explain your situation, you could work it out with them.

Lenni Jabour said: Feb 24, 2014
Suzuki Association Member
Piano, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Toronto, ON
9 posts

I am going to sound like a sticky purist here, so I am sorry in advance—but Suzuki teachers generally are carefully trained. If I were you, I would find a good teacher you and your children like and chalk it up to an unfortunate lack of Suzuki teachers in your area. You could always supplement with the summer institutes and use practice habits that you have gleaned (such as listening to a recording of repertoire, focusing on repetition, etc) but I would not be expecting any teacher not trained in properly implementing Suzuki principles to allow you the full Suzuki experience.

That is just my opinion, but I am really sticky about Suzuki principles in my studio- I figure that is why my families signed up, and it what I was trained to do as both a teacher and former Suzuki student myself.

Meanwhile it sounds like you got off on a wonderful start (good for you for having your own violin!). I hope you find the best teacher for your family whether you stay with the student or find someone different.

Music is a language of the heart without words. 
- Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, 1898- 1998

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