Bow before and after lesson


Louise Smith said: Aug 31, 2016
 1 posts

Informal poll: how many of you have your students bow before and after lessons? Why or why not?

Wendy Caron Zohar said: Sep 13, 2016
Wendy Caron Zohar
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Ann Arbor, MI
94 posts

I have my students bow at the beginning, and I too drop my head, to greet each other, to signal that the lesson is beginning and to give respect and acknowledgement to me, their teacher. At the end I have them bow again, to signal the end of the lesson, and to thank me, as I thank them for their attention and good work. I think the bowing is a very special part of the lesson experience, something unlike anything else they encounter in American life, that imparts a very special value of listening to, honoring and thanking the teacher.

Wendy Caron Zohar

Kelly Williamson said: Sep 13, 2016
Kelly WilliamsonTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Flute, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Cambridge, ON
248 posts

My students and I bow to each other before and after the lesson. When they come in, we are chatting about their day and they are telling me news. When it’s time to begin the lesson, we stand and look each other in the eye and then bow together. Aside from being a point of focus for the start of the lesson and a point of connection between us, it’s an opportunity to practice a beautiful bow. With younger kids, if the bow is somewhat sloppy then I ask them to line themselves up properly, focus, and we do it again. The final bow signals that the work is done—I usually thank them verbally (for their presence and/or their work) as well. After the bow there might be a couple of other comments about the coming week, or else we might greet another student who’s arrived for their lesson.

When I forget, either at the beginning or at the end, my students usually remind me that we didn’t bow.


Cecilia Calvelo-Hopkins said: Sep 13, 2016
Cecilia Calvelo-Hopkins
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Austin, TX
11 posts

Same here. Like Kelly and Wendy said, my students also bow at the beginning and at the end of each lesson. We do it for all the reasons mentioned above, it was also the way my first TTs in San Francisco taught me (Cathy Lee, Donna Lim, and Helen Higa), and also because it shows readiness and respect for both teacher and student.

Some weeks kids seem to not need to share many news and they are ready to bow and get on with the lesson, some other times they need to tell me things, show me something and so the bowing and the lesson wait a little. Also I like this tradition since bowing is a common thing any musician would do on stage before and after playing and so by the time my students go on stage bowing is not a big deal at all.

Also at group time we practice bowing and I am pretty inflexible at synchronizing our group bowing so that we breathe in all together, go down, count to 3 slowly, then come up. And the coming up has to be all together and so we practice that over and over again!!

Jennifer Visick said: Sep 14, 2016
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

I have students bow at the end of the lesson or group class; I bow to them while saying “thank you for coming today” and I teach them to bow back saying “thank you for teaching”.

I didn’t do this when I first started teaching, but once I began teaching it, I find the “end of teaching time” marker to be very useful; also, tethering the bow to words of gratitude ties into helping the student learn why we bow before or after performances—it is a nonverbal “thank you for coming to hear our music”, just as applause is a “thank you for performing”.

Trish said: Sep 15, 2016
Trish Clair (Horrocks)
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Nanaimo, BC
25 posts

Likewise, I feel the bow is an important signal at the start of each lesson or group class. After making that vital personal connection with the child when they first arrive, or dealing with “housekeeping” issues like recital dates, I feel like the bow indicates we are now ready to focus our minds on the lesson material.

With my new students, I share something that I observed from TT Elayne Ras many years ago … when she and her students bowed at the end of the group class, they would say “thank you for teaching me”. I love that idea: that not only do we teach the child (and parent), but WE learn something valuable ourselves in each and every lesson. Children are always surprised to hear that adults are learning new things too!

In pre-Twinkle group classes we work a lot on group bows. After several weeks (when I’m sure the kids can manage it) the parents are instructed that they should not applaud until we all bow together. If we look like chickens eating corn, we are greeted with silence. But when we bow really well together, we get a raucous round of applause and loud hoots and hollers from the parents. The kids always wear big grins when that happens!

Elise Winters said: Sep 19, 2016
Elise Winters
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Austin, TX
37 posts

I love the idea that the bow at the end says, “Our work is done” (Kelly’s post above). My students say “Thank you for my lesson” after the bow at the end.

A little detail I’ve added to the bow after playing a piece is saying, “Bach, Beethoven, Brahms.” This is more interesting than counting to three and they also become fluent in the composers’ names.

When we come up, we say “Banana.” The students love that part because it’s silly … and it reminds them to smile as they receive the applause.

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