when to start?

Beth said: May 8, 2015
 1 posts

I had intended to start my son in Suzuki when he was 4-5, but we’re about to move and it looks like the closest Suzuki school will be an hour away (without weather/traffic). Is that crazy to try to do with such a young child? I want to set him up for success, not misery. My family did a 40 minute drive for lessons when I was a kid and it was doable, but quite long for us. Our options are:

  1. Make the hour+ drive 1-2 times per week and hope he doesn’t throw a fit, get exhausted, hate me for life, etc. :)

  2. Find a closer teacher that uses the Suzuki method, but miss out on the group lesson/recital experience (a family member tried this and was unsuccessful due to child never meeting other young kids who played instruments).

  3. Delay until he is 6, at which point we’ll be moving again, and hope there are better options in our new location. But potentially miss the chance to develop his interest before he starts school and gets distracted by school, friends, other interests, etc.

  4. Teach him myself until we move. Really really really don’t want to do this, since then I’ll be both parent and teacher, which may not go over well. Never mind the fact that I don’t have a teaching degree. Or that I’m a violinist and I think cello would be an awesome choice for him.

What would you do?

Emmy said: May 13, 2015
 9 posts

Did you contact the private teachers near your place and find out what the studio do? Our teacher is private teacher but she does group classes and have recital twice a year. So it might work out after all with a private teacher.

Also what I noticed observing other 3 and 4 year old kids are that some of them don’t like participating in group class. I see them come but don’t want to participate and after all they stop coming to the group class for a while. Or some young kids this age don’t behave well in the group class and it might not work out after all.

My child started Suzuki violin when she turned 3, but she was not able to join a group class until she is 3.5 year old. Now she can behave better in the group class and seemed to enjoy it.

But definitely I see that school setting can provide more structured environment. Long drive can also give a child solid listening time since they cannot do anything else but to listen. I think after all you never know until you actually try. You child may be completely fine with the long drive. He might not. If that is the case, I think you can switch to the private teacher? But I think it is definitely nice to start the kids younger.

Becky Cook said: May 14, 2015
1 posts

My 5 year old and I have just completed our first year, driving about 25
minutes away twice a week. I pick him up a bit before three, stop by
McDonald’s, do the lesson, drive back home trying to miss the rush hour.
We usually arrive right before 5:00. For the two of us, a longer trip
would definitely be more of a hardship and not worth the effort. I am
still his “teacher at home”, so we have not avoided the push/pull back and
forth over practicing. Often, he’s tired after school (first year of
kindergarten and full day of class) and is not ready to engage when we
arrive at his lessons. If we were faced with your decision (disclaimer:
don’t know the energy level and travel capacity of your child) I would
probably support his interest in music by providing the musical environment
and musical games with rhythm instruments until we moved closer to a
teacher. Basically, give him the Suzuki background without the actual
instrument to foster his musical ear, ability, participation, etc. and use
those 4 hours / weeks for something with more freedom of movement.
(Granted, we loaded up on workbooks, library books, ipad, etc. but it’s
still sitting still after a full day of school.)

On Tue, May 12, 2015 at 3:15 PM, SAA Parents’ Corner Discussion <
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Anita said: May 15, 2015
 40 posts

I would recommend listening, every day, even if you can’t or don’t do lessons. If you think your child will do lessons at some point, then listen—as Parents as Partners advocates—like a maniac.

There is something about listening in a structured way that is GREAT for young children, and they love the repetition, too. I didn’t know that my children were going to do Suzuki violin; I knew nothing about the Suzuki method, and my oldest started at age 6 in public school. But we had been listening in a concentrated fashion (albeit to other forms of music) for years.

The first time I saw this video, it was posted as a link on a reply here. It’s worth repeating. It is priceless and an awesome example of concentrated listening: Daddy and daughter obviously have a routine and listen to the same songs every time they get in the car. 20-month-old Ella Mae singing to Elvis.

If you can’t do lessons, you can prepare your child for when / if you will be able. And it’s fun listening, in the process. Enjoy!


Kim said: May 18, 2015
 39 posts

I would not do this unless you were driving one time a week and pairing it with some other stuff (errands, visiting, etc) you were doing it in the city. I am just a Suzuki parent and having been through starting with young kids in a large program, I personally think I’d rather start later than earlier. 6 is not too old to start at all IMO. Listening is a great idea. If you could find a group kindermusik kind of experience, I think that really benefited my kids and created some enthusiasm before starting private lessons.

Alicia Gugu said: Jun 2, 2015
 2 posts

My daughter started violin this past January. She will turn 4 years old this July.

We travel 1.5 hours (one way!) for our group lesson, once per week. Her and her 1.5 year old brother seem to endure the trip just fine, though I make sure to arrive a little early and let them run a bit outside before the lesson starts.

It’s happened before that no one else showed up for the group lesson and it became a private lesson for that particular week. I asked my daughter if she liked her very own class and she said she liked it better with the other kids.
For the very first 3 lessons, she just hid behind me and peeked out to see what the other kids were doing. But after that, she warmed up and joined the rest of the class and has participated ever since.

Needless to say, because of the long trip, this is an all day event! We do make this our grocery shopping and ‘errand day’ as well, and usually have a special lunch out. I was worried that every Monday may turn into a drudgery and burden and be exhausting for everyone, but it’s actually the day of the week that I look forward to the most! The kids end up falling sleep in the car on the way there AND on the way home, so their rest isn’t much of an issue.

Best wishes!

Walden said: Jun 3, 2015
 Violin, Viola
Montgomery, AL
3 posts

Our family of 3 young boys traveled 2 hrs one way every other week for 15 years. Our lessons came after the all morning group lesson.

We had to travel at least 1 to 2 days to get to summer institutes as well.

As a result we now have in the family 3 trained Suzuki teachers who have a part-time wedding business!

Just create a vision and stick to it. You can do it, we did!

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