How fast/slow should a teacher go?


said: Dec 24, 2008
 2 posts

I am new to this forum and am really happy to find it. I have a 5 years old who started the Suzuki violin a year ago. I have been very discipline and we practice everyday. I mean everyday no joking. I have been happy with my daughter’s progress. But then this winter when my daughter’s 3 cousins came to visit (all have been taking Suzuki violin for years). I suddenly am not so sure if we are on the right track.

Our current private teacher is the second teacher we have had in my daughter’s short Suzuki experience. Our first teacher is still our group teacher. But my daughter’s schedule does not work with hers on the second half term. That’s why we have the current one. Their differences are big. At first, I was concerned about the coordination between the group class and the private lesson. In the past, we had the same teacher for both classes. The teacher could reinforce the same topic on both classes and I found it great. With the current teacher, the coordination was not there and I was a bit unsure. Then I tried to be positive and felt that both teachers could work on 2 different topics each week. My daughter and I could have more to work on during the week; which is not a bad thing. When the time goes by, my current private teacher is really slow in moving forward. I know every teacher is different. But she is so slow in doing new pieces. Some other kids who can’t do old pieces very well were learning the new songs. And my daughter still worked on the old pieces: some times 4 lessons without new songs. I understand my daughter is still in the very early twinkle step and the bow grip/correction is really the main target. But without learning new pieces the routine practice becomes so boring for her. It also frustrates her that she can not play most of the songs at the group class. She has been working on ‘Andantino’ for the past 6 lessons. I have improvised and made her play all the old songs on D string to make the practice more interesting. But I have become a bit frustrated also. And the teacher told me that she does not plan to start ‘Etude’ until Feb 2009. With such pace of the current teacher, I do not think we will be able to finish book I for another year. And my daughter’s cousins generally finish one book every year. The 7 years old (who started at age of 3) is on book 4 now and the 9 years old is on book 6. (And we really are not a family of ‘music talented’. We are just very discipline and work hard with our kids.) I know it’s not a good idea to compare kids. Every child is different. But I also want to get some idea if my teacher is moving too slowly. I know my daughter and I work very hard. It’s difficult to make a 5 years old to practice everyday for half an hour as we do. What do you think?

Jennifer Visick said: Dec 27, 2008
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1069 posts

It is extremely hard to answer your question with any kind of accuracy without seeing how your child plays over a period of several lessons. Have you discussed your concerns with your teacher? What kind of an answer did you get? A Parent-Teacher meeting or a phone call (without your child present or able to overhear) is the first step when you have these kinds of questions.

Every teacher has different criteria for what they want to see before introducing new material. Why not ask your teacher what these criteria are? What is important enough that Etude must wait till February? Some teachers ask that their students do not start working on a new piece until it is introduced in a lesson; others expect their students to start learning the notes by ear before they start working on it in a lesson. Which kind of teacher do you have?

Look at other students who have moved on to Etude and beyond who have also studied with this teacher. Do you enjoy how they play their pieces? What traits do they have in common? Do you want your child to exhibit these traits?

Also be very careful that it is not your anxiety to move to a new piece that is rubbing off on your child. Sometimes children will echo their parent’s attitudes without knowing it. You may be feeding off of each other! As the parent, it’s your job to stop that kind of cycle if it exists.

Remember that learning the notes and bowings to a new piece is not progress. Raising the level of pieces already learned is progress.

Another thing to consider is the amount of time it takes for a new teacher and your child to acclimate to one another. How long ago did you switch teachers? Sometimes a transfer student will take months to begin to really work at optimum levels with a new private teacher, and visible progress on the instrument may be slower than normal while the teacher/student/parent triangle learn to communicate effectively with each other. How to switch teachers is a valuable interpersonal skill that your 5 year old is learning along with everything else!

Laura said: Dec 27, 2008
Suzuki Association Member
358 posts

I agree that there can often be differences in focus when it comes to the meaning of progress. These differences exist between teachers and parents alike. They also exist between children, in terms of their needs and learning styles.

Most Suzuki teachers should require regular in-depth review, such that older pieces constantly improve with age. New pieces are only one part of the practice homework. However, it is helpful if the teacher explains, for example, just what is to be focused on with such-and-such a review piece for that week. It can seem rather pointless to have to just review for the sake of review, and that can cause frustration for both the student (as you have expressed). There should be a sense of purpose in exactly how the review pieces are going to improve over the week.

There are some teachers who prefer to move the students along as fast as possible in the repertoire, to give that sense of success. In this case, it is helpful for the teacher to have a certain amount of focus in the technical and musical foundation. You can only go so far if you have a lousy tone, poor intonation, improper bow hold and finger technique, etc.

At the Book 1 level, both approaches can work, although the first approach described is preferable in true Suzuki philosophy because it builds a better foundation. However, the individual child must be taken into account. Some children simply do not have the focus or ability to focus on the nitty-gritties so much, regardless of how much coaching or encouragement. In those cases, a teacher might be better off lowering her standards a little, for the time being, for the sake of the child. Better to keep the child engaged and motivated than discouraged and unwilling.

In my studio, I stress the importance of review equally to all students and parents. However, realistically, I expect it more from some than from others. I do my best to help all students rise to the occasion, but I cannot force the issue between lessons.

The students can perceive “success” on many different levels. It may be what piece they are on. It may be how beautifully they play. It may boil down to what they have heard others say about their playing, or others’ playing. I agree with the comment that children are very sensitive to the vibes they pick up, however inadvertently. These may come from parents, teachers, or even other children. As the primary home teacher, it is the parents role to understand where your child is at, and to help navigate her through her thoughts and expectations.

No easy answer. It’s all a balancing act between student, teacher, parent, the student’s increasing maturity, and the passage of time.

It is important to bring this out into the open with your teacher, so that everyone is aware of both the expectations and the plans. It is then important to make sure that your child knows this, too, in a language that she will understand.

It is wonderful that you practice so diligently—you are every teacher’s dream! For that reason alone, I would not be concerned in your situation except for making sure that everyone is clear on what is being expected in terms of progress.

Here is something that hopefully will provide some perspective and put you at ease:

I have students that, quite frankly, progress very slowly through the repertoire. But they and their parents are excellent practicers, do everything I tell them, and play extremely well. But I cannot make them learn pieces any faster, because they simply don’t learn that fast, nor do they care to. They are happy, so that’s that. I have other students who race through the repertoire, but rarely address what I teach them in terms of improving anything because they don’t want to and their parents don’t make them. They show up at the next lesson proud to have “learned” the the next piece, but overall they do not play well. But do they ever pick up new notes fast. Both of these extreme situations have their pros and cons for me as a teacher. Most of my students fall somewhere inbetween, and I teach them accordingly.

So many variables, even within one teacher’s studio! That is why I would also caution you against comparing your situation with that of students from another teacher. There is often more than meets the eye. But with the information you have provided, it sounds to me that the teacher’s expecations and game plan have not been adequately communicated, and this can easily be resolved by asking.

Good luck! Do let us know what happens.

(—oh, I wish I could be as succinct as Rainejen! )

Jennifer Visick said: Dec 28, 2008
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1069 posts

(— the secret to being succinct is the same as in teaching a one point lesson. Namely—it consists of not saying 90% of the things that occur to me. I don’t always suceed!)

Laura said: Dec 29, 2008
Suzuki Association Member
358 posts

So I should learn to write in the same way as I try to teach—ha ha, good point! Thanks :)

Nicole said: Jan 5, 2009
 3 posts

My daughter started Suzuki violin when she is 2 years and 9 months old. She is 4 years and 2 months old now. She has been doing Suzuki violin for about 15 months, but all she do everytime she went to the private lesson is just to sing the same old suzuki songs and the teacher just started to teach her the E string now—doing the pepparoni pizza tune, just the up and down on an open string.

Is this normal? When can I expect she finish her first book? A few years later when she is around 7 years old or so?

I feel this is very very slow and not fare for my daughter because another girl who is a little younger than my daughter about 3—3.5 years old joined the studio a year after us is doing the same E string now! Can someone please explain this to me?

I feel that I should discuss with the teacher as this is always the suggestions I saw on this forum for this kind of problem, but I feel that I should just change teacher instead of discuss with the teacher at this point.

Laura said: Jan 5, 2009
Suzuki Association Member
358 posts


In response to your question, I think that all situations are unique. It is always tempting to compare, but there are so many factors. And also many differences between children. It’s like comparing when babies or toddlers start to talk, walk, or even read.

Less than 3 years old is very, very young. The things you should expect are much different at that age. Even if it appears that she isn’t learning new things, she is learning a lot for her age: focus, following directions, and repeating familiar things until they become easier. Little kids LOVE to do the same thing over and over again—but this can seem frustrating to the parents.

It may take, on average, about 1-3 years to finish Book 1, regardless of the instrument. It depends on so many things, including what age they started. Not too long ago, someone posted on this board complaining about Suzuki method being pointless starting out the children so young. But the answer was not so simple, even if it’s tempting to think, “Well, if I just waited a little longer to start, then I wouldn’t have wasted so much time and money not getting anywhere”. There was lots of discussion after this. (Can someone post some links—sorry, I don’t know how to do this.)

How has your daughter been enjoying her lesson time? Does she get a chance to practice every day? Or several short times every day? Does she hear the CD many times a day? (the younger they are, the easier it should be to get them to listen lots!) Any other regular exposure to nice music in her life? If the answer to this is all yes, then she will learn very well, very fast. It just doesn’t seem like it for now because she is still so young. But she is absorbing it like a sponge. Be patient and persistent.

To summarize: give them as much as you can, as early as you can, and they will learn the best that they can.

On the other hand, some children are too young to start private lessons if they are unable to concentrate, follow directions from a teacher, etc. This is a different matter, and it sounds like it’s not what you’re talking about.

Jennifer Visick said: Jan 6, 2009
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1069 posts

When you say “the same old suzuki songs”, which songs are you referring to? Have you asked the teacher what the teaching point for each song is?

Nicole said: Jan 7, 2009
 3 posts

The songs we sing each week are: This is my violin, Bowing Song, This is my Right Hand, I’m learning where to put my feet…

The teacher said these are the songs she will play on the violin later, but it has been 15 months and all we do is just sing these songs. I really don’t don’t when will she start learning to play violin instead of singing songs. With this kind of speed. It will takes my daughter 3—4 years to finish the first book. Is this normal??

Laura said: Jan 7, 2009
Suzuki Association Member
358 posts

You should ask the teacher directly when she plans to introduce the instrument instead of just singing. If you are sure you not learning anything new in each lesson, it might be more worthwhile to stop private Suzuki lessons for a while and just have your daughter attend some group Suzuki classes, or even Orff or Kodaly, where they experience plenty of singing and other musical skills that will apply directly towards Suzuki violin later.

If she believes your daughter isn’t ready, you should ask her what signs she is looking for. That will help you know how to help your daughter practice at home.

But regardless of what happens, don’t despair. The rate of learning changes drastically as Book 1 progresses. Pre-Twinkles may take a long time. Twinkles may take a long time. Lightly Row and even Song of the Wind may take a long time. But rarely do things take as long after that. I doubt it would take as long as 3-4 years at your daughter’s age, if everything is going right with practice, listening, etc.

said: Feb 9, 2009
 32 posts

I would greatly encourage you to talk this over with your teacher before giving up lessons; I find that when a parent comes to me with a concern, we can always work something out that is satisfactory to both parties. It is helpful to check in with the teacher on a regular basis, and I am sure she would welcome questions and concerns. Please do not underestimate the bond your child has with the teacher, and vice versa! If the child is happy and looks forward to the lesson, that alone says volumes about the quality of your teacher.
Best wishes.

Deanna said: Feb 11, 2009
 90 posts

For Ms2:
I agree that the rate of learning definitely changes through the repertoire. I had a 3.5 year old start violin lessons with me last January. I introduce the violin into lessons as quickly as possible but still include a lot of singing, ear training, copy cat games, bowing songs, etc. Anyway I could tell that this student was paying attention really well and she could always repeat back to me exactly the right instructions though she couldn’t always physically do what she was describing. We worked a lot on bowhold and posture things. We did a couple really easy songs (pickle song and Monkey song). She could sort of play them but not in tempo. She had to stop between each note for several seconds to prepare the next one.
Her mom was very encouraging and practised with her regularly. By the end last June we were still working on playing the pickle and Monkey songs in tempo with what seemed like very little success.
They returned for lessons in September and one week suddenly it clicked and she could play those songs easily. We worked on the twinkles and she could play them all in a couple months. Her mom was completely astounded since it seemed like there was no progress being made and all of a sudden she could play all the twinkles. She has now been playing for one year and is working on O Come little children. I’m also happy to say that she plays with a beautiful bowhold and violin hand position.

Anyway my point is that even though progress might not be visible to you… it could still very well be going on. Perseverance pays off. That’s one of the main goals of music lessons anyway… how to learn to persevere.

For original poster:
I also agree that the transfer might be an issue. I took on several transfer students last year. Some are pretty much integrated into my studio now (9 months later). Others are still transitioning. I have “slowed down” lessons with 2 of these transfer students because I feel their playing ability does not match the repertoire they are attempting to learn. One is on Minuet 3 and the other is at the end of book 3. These two particular students only view progress in terms of new pieces, yet they can’t play much of anything well. We’ve been doing a lot of review, a lot of work on basics—like posture, bowhold and I’ve been supplementing with other activities like music reading and fiddle tunes so that they still feel they’re learning something new. Their practice time basically consists of playing through everything as quickly as possible.

With your situation it may be that some technical things haven’t been taught yet (like scales, 4th finger, low 2’s etc). I usually take quite a bit of time to prepare Etude because it is a difficult piece. I like my students to be able to sing it, play a 2 octave G major scale and arpeggio, and play earlier songs with a low 2 before we do Etude. And even then it usually takes at least 4 weeks to learn. (Though I usually don’t measure pieces by the length of time it takes to learn them).

If you feel you don’t have “enough” to practice ask your teacher about this and what you should be practising—what goal you’re aiming for—a good bowhold, curly fingers, good tone etc. The goal is usually not a piece specific thing but a violin specific thing that can be practised in every piece. Good luck!

Lindsay said: Feb 21, 2009
 55 posts

What a subject for discussion!

I almost cringe to see these questions asked, especially because those who are answering have never met nor taught the student. In my own studio, there is such variation in the progression time from one student to the next based on so many factors. While a student may practice diligently every day, she may still struggle with some very basic components that prevent her from moving forward. Other students don’t do nearly the amount of practice we’d like to see, and yet don’t have much trouble with things like bow hold.

I had several three-year-olds start this past September. All of them have great parents who enforce regular practice, and yet one of them has already completed Lightly Row while another of them is not even able to play the first Twinkle Variation. The others fall somewhere in between. To think that they should all have made the same progress because they are the same age and with the same teacher totally ignores all the other factors involved. I teach to the individual child, not on a set time line. I address what I see in front of me without much thought to how long a child has been working on a particular piece. If the work needs to be done, the work needs to be done. Moving a child ahead faster won’t change that.

Lindsay—Violin teacher, homeschooling mama of four, small-time publisher

said: Feb 23, 2009
 2 posts

I was the one who posted the question late Dec last year. I spoke with our teacher regarding the progress (I really felt she moved forward too slowly.) She told me she paid a lot attention to the quality of the sound. She wanted the kids to be able to play most of the notes ringing. I know it’s horrible to compare kids in a group class and each teacher is different. I am not an expert, but I do feel there is a limitation on the ability of a certain age group. We work hard, but my daughter is not Elli Choi. Most of the kids in our class couldn’t do Perpectual motion without stopping for instructions where to put their fingers. Most of them have poor sound, too much pressure from the first finger from the bow grip. And those kids are already on Minuet I. I felt impatient. The discussion with the teacher made me decide to find a different teacher. I know it’s really unusual my daughter started in Jan 2008 and now is having the third teacher. But I think it’s important to find a teacher that I feel I can work with. I also do not want my daughter to feel she falls way behind after all the hard work we put through. We have a new teacher who has been teaching for almost 40 years. I am happy with her. Since Jan my daughter and I have made our daily practice about 1 hour. She is now on Minuet 2. She feels much more confident. Because there is always something new for her to work for. More challenging, I think.

Nicole said: Jan 27, 2010
 3 posts

My last post was about a year ago, and here are some updates about my daughter, and some questions…

I have a 5 years old daughter who started suzuki violin since she was 3. I’m thinking to take her out of the suzuki program and enroll her with another violin teacher who is not a suzuki teacher. I’m still very serious about giving her violin lessons but there are many reasons why I decided to stop her lessons with the current teacher and discontinue her Suzuki violin training.

One of the main reason is the progress is extremely slow, we are still learning the twinkle variations at this point. With the speed of her progress and the way her teacher teach new thing each week, I predict it will take her about 4—5 years to learn all 17 songs in book one.

The new teacher is not a Suzuki teacher but she is very good and all her students play very well and a lot of them are members of the local youth orchestra. She is a reputable teacher and highly recommened by a few parents I spoke to. One of the concern I have is the teacher will teach with a totally different approach where my daughter has to learn to read notes, not play by ear. I think my daughter will be able to adapt to the new learning style even though she is still very little and has been trained to play by ear… but sometimes I’m still not sure if I’m doing the right thing for her.

They are totally two different approach, I really wish to hear some advice or opinions before I pull her out from the Suzuki program. I used to believe that Suzuki program is the best but after I compared her teacher with other non suzuki teachers, I think both methods can produced great violinist. I’ve invested a lot of time and money for more than 2 years in this program and this is a big desicion for me. I sincerely thank you anyone that will take time to read my post and give me some feedback. Thanks.

Jennifer Visick said: Jan 27, 2010
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1069 posts


I think both methods can produced great violinist.

Yes, although I would not say “both” (as if there were only two approaches to teaching music!)—there are many “non-Suzuki” approaches.

If you have already followed the suggestions in this thread, and your doubts have still not been answered, perhaps it is time for your family to move to a new teacher.

Make sure that you speak to your current teacher about your reasons for leaving BEFORE you make preparations to switch (however hard this may seem for you to do). Allow your child and your current teacher the privilege of “closure”—in a last lesson that both student and teacher are well aware is the “last lesson”.

Make sure that you thoroughly check out the new teacher—you may end up jumping from the trouble you know to the trouble you don’t know. Or, you may end up finding out that for all your effort to switch teachers, the new teacher has the same reasons for moving slowly with your child that the old teacher had—and you’ll be in the same position as before.

Remember how long it takes to learn to be fluent in a foreign language. Slow progress for a few years with careful attention to certain details may not seem so slow compared to the big picture of a lifetime of playing music well.

Jennifer Visick said: Jan 27, 2010
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1069 posts

It is very, very hard to give advice in such a situation… (which I compensate for by giving advice on both sides!).

Side 1:


I think both methods can produced great violinist.

Yes, although I would not say “both” (as if there were only two approaches to teaching music!)—there are many “non-Suzuki” approaches.

If you have already followed the suggestions in this thread, and your doubts have still not been answered, perhaps it is time for your family to move to a new teacher.

Make sure that you speak to your current teacher about your reasons for leaving BEFORE you make preparations to switch (however hard this may seem for you to do). Allow your child and your current teacher the privilege of “closure”—in a last lesson that both student and teacher are well aware is the “last lesson”.

Make sure that you thoroughly check out the new teacher—you may end up jumping from the trouble you know to the trouble you don’t know. Or, you may end up finding out that for all your effort to switch teachers, the new teacher has the same reasons for moving slowly with your child that the old teacher had—and you’ll be in the same position as before.

Side 2:

I have a 5 years old daughter who started suzuki violin since she was 3.

Remember how long it takes for a child to learn to speak the first sounds, words, and sentences of their life. And then remember that while it may seem slow at first, once things “get started”, the rate of progress seems much, much faster. It is the same with Suzuki teaching: 2 years of study from age 3 to age 5 might be the slow start that gives way to a faster learning curve in the next several years.

Two years is not a lot of time to learn the Twinkles if you consider that you are learning much more than “The Twinkles”. Following is a PARTIAL list of skills that are to be worked on in order to play twinkle (depending on the student, each skill may take between one week to a couple of months to “get the hang of”. Assuming you ideally spend one week on each skill, this is still a year’s worth of lessons… be generous and average it out to two lessons on each skill in this list, and that about two years of lessons…

(maybe it’s a little less if you take lessons non-stop year-round, without a summer break):

  • sidedness
  • focusing the eyes on the task at hand
  • endurance (up to 5 minutes of concentration on a single task at a time—this is a big deal for most adults—especially at the level of concentration required to play music)
  • relaxed bow hold
    -relaxed left hand
    -left hand finger numbers
    -note names
    -ABA Form
    -pitch recognition
    -names of instrument parts
    -functions of instrument parts
    -good stance
    -ringing clear solid beautiful tone
    -playing on a single string
    -16th note rhythms
    -triplet rythms
    -eighth note rhthms
    -quarter note and half note rhythms
    -soft and loud dynamic changes while playing a song
    -aligned (straight) posture WHILE holding an object on one shoulder (not intuitive!)
    -listening skills (”laddering” your listening)
    -listening skills (following verbal instructions and “example” instructions)
    -listening skills (pitch recognition and intonation discrimination, “high” and “low” pitches)
    -listening skills (discerning tone quality)
    -classroom skills
    -interpersonal skills
    -bow distribution / regulating bow speed
    -string crossings
    -”high 2″ finger pattern
    -establish a steady sense of tempo and meter
    -down bow vs. up bow
    -landing/playing in the upper half of the bow without bouncing
    -right elbow hinge
    -controlling the contact point / Kreisler highway

p.s. Of course there ought to be a lot of pre-twinkle songs that go along with these skills, so that you ARE learning a lot of “repertoire” before finishing the Twinkles.

Sue Ellen said: Feb 28, 2010
Sue Ellen Dubbert
Suzuki Association Member
Madison, WI
13 posts

Great discussion from all.

As a teacher, I take great comfort in the wisdom of a very established and well-known Suzuki violin teacher: Being involved with the Suzuki method means learning to accept the developmental stage of your child/student, where ever they are in the process.

This acceptance is a profound way to communicate the love you have for your child.

Remember that knowledge builds exponentially—there is A LOT to learn in book 1 for any instrument. Supporting your child as they learn an instrument means that your first priority is to support their learning process and sublimate your own desires for grandeur. This process of accepting children, be they our offspring or students, is part of the Suzuki journey.

said: Jul 5, 2010
 2 posts

what happened- did you switch? 5 years ago, i switched from one Suzuki violin teacher to another Suzuki teacher as i was impatient that my 4 year old daughter hadn’t progressed past the Twinkles in 9 months considering she was already in Piano Book 2- so violin was her 2nd instrument. I was getting stressed out even before each lesson and when i had to walk out of the lesson because the teacher had told my daughter that she didn’t play the tone on the violin like the CD—that was it!!! She was 4 and the CD was by an adult violinist with a bigger violin- how could she possibly replicate it??!!!
Anyway, it was either that or quit violin. Fortunately it turned out for the better. The new and still current Suzuki teacher is a teacher trainer who i think had more faith that everything would come together in time instead of “holding” her back because of imperfect tone/posture. I think she understood because this teacher is so much more experienced and had been a parent herself and knew how to manage high maintenance parent like myself :cool:. Anyway we still continually revise our “old” pieces thereby improving them, even now when she is 9 and in Book 8. She can still play every single Suzuki piece she has learnt. So i don’t really agree that a piece needs to be absolutely perfect before moving on to the next one, as long as you keep on polishing/revising them. They get better with time. The new pieces keep them motivated to practise.

However i also have 2 younger boys, 7 and 5 year old who have the same teacher and are progressing at different rates. In fact the 5 year old may bypass the older brother because of his determination, better ear and desire to learn. So a teacher can only go as fast as the student’s motivation and compliance. The 7 year old has a dash of defiance….
Maybe there is another Suzuki teacher in your area you could go to??? I have to travel further to the “new” teacher but it’s worth it! I am still a die-hard Suzuki parent. :cool: only because i was so traumatised as child with the annual piano exams and lack of peer support learning traditional. Although daughter will be doing her first piano (8th grade) exam next year- but she will be ready for it with all the Suzuki performance background behind her.

Rigo Murillo said: Mar 8, 2012
Rigo Murillo
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
16 posts

Sometimes we adults forget that things take time to learn for very young children. Their learning at that stage has a very high impact in future years, but students take time to process the learning.

I remember that list of skills, Jennifer… I put a version of these skills (32) together. I handed this list out to let parents know what a long list of skills there is to learn JUST to play the twinkles on violin. We adults lose sight of how much our brains have to develop before we can concise little skills into big ones. Thanks for sharing!

I have more materials at

Rigo Murillo, President
Love Nurtured Music Program
Suzuki Strings Specialist

Kristina Held said: Sep 19, 2012
1 posts

Supporting your child as they learn an instrument means that your first priority is to support their learning process and sublimate your own desires for grandeur. This process of accepting children, be they our offspring or students, is part of the Suzuki journey.

I will print this out and stick on my fridge :)

Thank you!

Kiyoko said: Jan 22, 2013
 95 posts

Hmm, it is interesting to hear both sides of this discussion. In my own experience as a Suzuki kid, my mother changed teachers for various reasons and I distinctly remember the teachers that best fit my learning style. Yes, each child has their own pace but please don’t forget that differences in approach matter too.

For me, the more challenging was better, along with the expectation of discipline. When I felt “held back” (and believe me, I did at times), I was less motivated and disciplined, and enjoyed everything less. I also know I learned new techniques more slowly, mastered pieces more slowly, and my intonation was slower to improve. It seems like it is easier to point out to a teacher when a child is over challenged and frustrated than when they are under challenged and frustrated. Bear in mind, a parent’s frustration differs from the child’s frustration.

So I guess what I am trying to say is to caution parents and teachers that some of the slower progress could be be just an issue of fit. If you talk to a teacher and adjustments don’t work, switch teachers until you find one you feel works for your child and you as a parent, at least until your child is old enough to attend lessons independently.

That said, it is definitely not worth getting an ulcer because you feel you have to stay with a particular teacher and have it kill the enjoyment for you. Maybe that sounds selfish but it was what made my mother a better parent to me too. If she wasn’t worrying about the teacher (driving too far, paying the bills, or whatever), she could focus on being a better mom.

Flora Chun said: Mar 8, 2013
1 posts

Hi. I have a 8 years old daughter who started to learn violin 2 years ago. She has been studying Suzuki method from the beginning. After her first year of violin, her teacher suggested her to take the ABRSM grade 3 test and for the 6 months, she had been dedicating to practice and learn her ABRSM songs. Her teacher skipped Suzuki book 4 and jumped to book 5 and now she is playing Bach Concerto for two violins. My daughter is finding the piece difficult. I have concern that her teacher is moving on way too fast. It seems like my daughter doesn’t need to master a piece (play flawlessly) before moving on to the next piece. Of course she can play the entire songs but not with perfection. Her teacher also comment my daugher that she has really good potential and very good rhythm and pitch. Since I don’t play violin myself (I only play piano), I am not too confident in her method. I was thinking to switch teacher but hestiate for such move. Can anyone give me some advice? Tks.

Mary said: Mar 8, 2013
 39 posts

I am not a violin teacher, but a parent of a violin student. I just wanted to say that in our experience book 4 was really an important learning/transition point in my son’s development as a violinist. His technique, tone, and ear all developed remarkably over the course of that book and we went very slowly for two reasons. First, we wanted to be sure to not rush the learning and skip the valuable learning points and end up with a weaker foundation. And even more importantly I did not want a stressed out kid who dreaded practicing because everything was too hard. So it took us almost a year to get through the book but it was so worth it. He has made it through book 5 quite quickly by comparison and is now working on the first violin part of the Bach Double. A couple of weeks ago when his teacher opened up the book to the Bach Double he was able to play the first couple of pages of the first violin part with very little problems. I can only guess that it’s because we worked so hard on learning the 2nd violin part and that he heard the piece a gazillion times.

Perhaps teachers will comment on whether or not it’s possible to have the same amount and quality of learning with the approach of skipping book 4 and going to book 5. I can only speak on our own individual experience and book 4 was invaluable.

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