Do you teach parents how to play?


said: Oct 16, 2008
 15 posts

Do you teach the practice parent to play the instrument before beginning the child? Do you feel it is necessary? If so, what are the advantages? If not, why? Thanks for your input!

Connie Sunday said: Oct 16, 2008
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

There needs to be an option besides Yes and No; my answer is “sometimes.” It depends on (1) if the parent can afford the larger instrument; and (2) if they’re willing to do it. Which in my rural community, they mostly are not.

Of course, it’s ideal if they can, and several have. But no, as a rule, not.

Free Handouts for Music Teachers & Students:

Laurel said: Oct 28, 2008
Laurel MacCullochViolin
Langley, BC
120 posts

I do, because the program where I work includes that in their first year fee. The parents have a 1/2 hour class with me while the kids are at their Kodaly class. So I teach them to play, and also talk about specifics of working with their child; we go over the 7 points of the Suzuki philosophy; I also have them get Nurtured By Love and we go over it over 6 weeks or so.

At the moment I’m concentrating on their playing, rather than the other topics—I’d like them to get at least one Twinkle variation under their belts before Christmas break. By June, depending on how much discussion we do about the philosophy or practising, they may have gone as far as Perpetual Motion.

I find it helps them understand better what their children are going through, and often they can come up with their own ideas about posture challenges, for example, if they’ve done it themselves. They also help with things like song structure (like A B B A for Twinkle) if they’ve played through at least a few of the early songs.

I think my minimum requirement would be for them to master the Twinkles, Lightly Row and Song of the Wind—a good introduction to a variety of skills that they can use with their children later.


Jennifer Visick said: Oct 29, 2008
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts
Laurel said: Oct 30, 2008
Laurel MacCullochViolin
Langley, BC
120 posts

I forget who wrote/arranged these, but I learned it during my 1A course a few years ago. Let’s see if I can remember them without having to get up and look them up!

(in no particular order)
1. Every child can.
2. Ability develops early.
3. Parental involvement is crucial.
4. Success breeds success.
5. Encouragement is essential.
6. Children learn from one another.
7. Environment nurtures growth.

It’s basically the Suzuki Method in a nutshell. I’m finding I don’t need to go into much depth on these, because parents these days know SO much about early childhood development. In Suzuki’s time, these could be quite the revelation, but now we have learned so much more about the learning process. I still touch on them and remind parents of them later, however; for example when practise is getting tough, or boring, or whatever, I suggest they may need to change the practise environment somehow (like their own tone of voice) because of that last point.


said: Nov 4, 2008
 63 posts

Dorothy Jones takes credit for the 7 points above. She was my trainer and I have her handout posted in my studio.

As for teaching parents to play, I usually don’t have them play. (I teach piano). When I took Suzuki, my Mom didn’t learn how to play, which suited her just fine, so that’s what I’m used to.

When my students start learning notes, rhythms, etc. in sight reading and theory, I ask the parents to work intensively with the students so they learn it as well, to be able to help in book 2. I ask parents to help keep track of where the student is in the score as they are learning to read, which means they should know the basics of notation.

Occasionally I do ask parents to do a little bit, to appreciate the difficulty of work that they are demanding of their children! One parent was terrifically humbled just by learning the left hand of Mary Had a Little Lamb. It does motivate students to have their parents play with them as a duet.

If a parent is interested in learning piano, I do offer a separate course with separate music that is non-Suzuki, or take time with them in the lesson to show them something specific if they like.

hope that helps.

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