To bow or not to bow?


Sarah said: Jun 19, 2011
Suzuki Association Member
9 posts

There is always a bow(rhymes with cow) at the beginning of lessons. With my 3-year old daughter, I am now 2 sides of the Suzuki triangle. We bow at every practice time too, not just the lesson. Is that what normally takes place? Do students bow with their parents at all of their home practices? Or, is bowing reserved for lessons, between the student and teacher?

What do your students do?

Lori Bolt said: Jun 19, 2011
Lori Bolt
Suzuki Association Member
San Clemente, CA
226 posts

I bow with my students at the beginning and end of each lesson. I do so twice so that we set aside the time in a special way and to get them used to the proper time to bow during performances. I generally don’t require them to bow at home during practice (unless they need to work on body control), but I don’t see anything wrong with doing so.

You might decide to use the bow only for lessons as a way to distinguish that time with your daughter as being different from practice time.

Lori Bolt

Courtney Morgan said: Mar 24, 2013
Smithville, MO
9 posts

Since the bow is a sign of respect and a way to say thank you, I think students should “bow” to their parents—literally and figuratively—a lot. Take a literal bow at lessons and practice (I also look directly at my parents when I bow at performances, even though I’m all grown up now), but also translate that attitude over into thanking the parent for driving the child somewhere or putting food on the table. There are many lessons that Suzuki teaches that extend outside of the world of classical music, and I believe this attitude of gracious respect for those who support us in a world where respect is rapidly deteriorating is one of those lessons. If you are making sure your children understand this, I would say you are doing a great job.

Jennifer Visick said: Jul 4, 2013
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

The bow for me has become a marker for the end of the lesson or group class; and I have been teaching my students to say ‘thank you for teaching me’ when they bow, after I bow to them and have said ‘thank you for coming today’.

I had a student once who would get tired of the lesson before I was done teaching, and would occasionally stop me mid-sentence by going to rest position, and bowing and saying ‘thank you for teaching me’! So I had to explain that’s not how it works and I also had to re-think how long this student could concentrate in a lesson… & how I could teach being more aware of their focus,—teaching the child, not teaching the instrument.

I suppose it could be used to end practice time as well… “thank you for practicing with me?” or “thank you for helping me practice”? Especially if practices tend (like my lessons sometimes do) to be too long for the child.

Laura said: Jul 7, 2013
Laura Mozena
Suzuki Association Member
Palm City, FL
105 posts

I think this depends on the student, but yes my students bow. When I first teach the bow, I ask if they have ever seen a concert or a recital where someone took a bow at the end of their piece. And then I explain that they are saying thank you to the audience for their applause. We usually bow only at the end of the lesson to say thank you, but some of my students do bow at the beginning as well. I think in practice this would be great and I bow in group all the time. Most importantly though is learning how to bow in recitals and learning good recital etiquette. When my students get older i teach them to acknowledge their accompanists in recitals and stand together to take the bow.


Clara Hardie said: Jul 7, 2013
Clara Hardie
Suzuki Association Member
Detroit, MI
21 posts

My students and I bow to each other to start and end the lesson. I remind them that I say “Thank you for teaching me” too because they helped me be a better teacher today. I think it would be fun to bow during practice too because you are the home teacher (who works just as hard or harder than the teacher) and I am willing to bet that your practicing with them that day helped you realize what to do and not to do next time so you will mean it when you say “Thank you for teaching me”!

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