Competitive Atmosphere

Nora Friedman said: Jun 10, 2014
Nora Friedman
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools
Brooklyn, NY
34 posts


I teach at and help run a wonderful music school in Brooklyn and just have gotten terrible news: a family of mine is leaving the school because they feel that the competitive atmosphere in the school does not carry out Suzuki's vision. I was NOT surprised to hear that parents had made backhanded comments to the parent (Oh! She's only up to THAT?!) Meanwhile, in my opinion this child is demonstrating excellence at each level, and has a beautiful foundation. Her families care and attention to detail is setting her up for beautiful and easy playing through book 1. I'm so proud of her work.

Needless to say I'm distraught. We need MORE families like this one at our music school, not fewer. The parent made the good point that speaking only to the parents who made the comment doesn't resolve the systemic issue. I believe this is an opportunity to train our teachers better to handle feelings of competition among parents and children and to work with parents to remind them of the humbling goal of opening people's hearts with beautiful music. We need to change the culture around performances and refocus our parents' and teachers' vision not on the next piece but on the NEW technical and musical goal.

I would like to incorporate a unit on this in our parents class for next fall, and design a training for our teachers before the next school year begins.

Teachers/Administrators: How do you address these issues in your studios and at your music schools? What materials do you use? How do you train your teachers to discuss these issues?

Parents/Students: What do you tell yourselves when these feelings come up? What materials have been helpful for you and what do you think would be helpful for our families?

Much thanks for your help, in advance!

Irene said: Sep 4, 2014
Irene YeongViolin
160 posts


I’ve had a parent telling me the exact comment before. Your daughter has been learning so long and she is only until there?

I just ignore her. Thank God , she is the minority. Other parents that I mingle with do not make such comment.

focus on teacher’s teaching, good basic foundation before proceeding to the next piece. We do not have weekly group lesson, so it’s also good that I only see her once in a blue moon. :)

Good luck and I hope the atmosphere in your studio will change to a friendly and warm one.

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