Seventy years ago Suzuki noticed that all children speak their mother tongue with ease and they learn it at home from their parents. He concluded that there are certain conditions at the time of language acquisition that are common to all cultures. All parents assume that their children will speak their language and never wonder if their child will have “talent” for it. Suzuki thought if we could duplicate this kind of learning process into other areas of the child’s learning we would be experts at anything we wanted to do! Some of those characteristics are: parental involvement, continuous encouragement, early start, daily listening, constant repetitions, delayed reading, etc. In his method, the Teacher, Parent, and Student make a team (triangle) and work in harmony together. In order for that team to function smoothly like a “dance” each member has to do their part and understand their role, and the other member’s roles, so that no one feels like the “star” of the team, or obliterated, powerless, overwhelmed, etc. Let’s review then the roles of each part in the triangle:

1. Parent’s Role:

  1. Attend class regularly (both group and private) and take detailed notes during the class
  2. Observe quietly
  3. Always believe your child can, just like you believed they would speak your language.
  4. Practice following teacher’s assignment
  5. CD Police!! Play the CD daily at home, in the car, or anywhere the child goes
  6. Learn the basics of the instrument and how to take care of it
  7. Love child unconditionally and help him through struggles (acceptance)
  8. Prepare the child mentally, emotionally, and physically for the lesson
  9. Foster cooperation and not competition among group peers
  10. Do all those things the teacher is powerless to do (wash hands before lesson, cut nails, offer snack before lesson, offer water before lesson, etc)
  11. Support Teacher and Student
  12. Model behaviors for student (focus, keep calm, persevere, smile, be patient, etc)
  13. Motivate the child but do not despair if child does not show much interest or desire to play and practice at times
  14. Inform yourself about Suzuki method (read, SAA’s PPO, podcasts, etc)
  15. Connect with other Suzuki parents who are going through the same process
  1. Teacher’s role:
  1. Plant the garden (keep a balanced lesson)
  2. Monitor seeds ‘growth (listen, review, check in regularly with parent and child)
  3. Make decisions about harvesting (selecting concert and recital pieces)
  4. Help the parent educate the child through music so that that child will grow surroundedby its beauty and peacefulness, developing on the way a noble heart
  1. Student’s role:

• To be a child (with all that that entails)
• To understand the adults in the Suzuki triangle
• To “cooperate” to the best of their abilities to take the lessons and practice at home

  1. Suzuki Triangle:

• Teacher must have a connection with Parent for Student to trust Teacher. Child won’t give up Parent as teacher unless Parent responds to Teacher as “Teacher”
• Parent and Teacher must have an “alliance” to better serve and help student
• “Trust” is essential in the smooth functioning of the Suzuki Triangle.
• Honest communication is essential
• No one should be so busy that it becomes unbearable. Maybe that is causing another member of the triangle to not have any space to do their part.
• Instrument: added dimension to the original Suzuki triangle (from Ed Sprunger)

5. Common situations we will encounter as Parents and possible solutions:

• Don’t touch me or tell me how to do that! I know it, let me do it! (Agree with them and propose maybe you should make a video and send it to the Teacher!)
• Not now, I am playing! Not now, I am reading. Not now, I am finishing my homework! I have to finish watching this movie (delaying, procrastinating. YOU go practice!)
• My belly hurts… my neck is itching! (Maybe they need attention, sit them on your lap, listen, sympathize with them, etc.)
• I am hungry, and I am thirsty, I am cold/hot, what time is dinner? (Make sure to give them water, food, take off or put on layers of clothing or whatever they need before they start practicing. If still after having all those needs taken care of they keep complaining then they need something else, listen!)

6. Things to think about:

• Is the child developing emotional and intellectual robustness?
• What learning style does the child show?
• Is the child developing musical expression?
• Have the frustrations at home practice become easier or harder to deal with?
• We do not want to have to torn down and rebuilt technique in the future. So, are we practicing with technical concepts in mind (ease and comfort)
• Book 1 is the POSTURE BOOK! Slow pace Book 1 vs. Fast track Book 1.
• Instead of thinking in terms of what’s the next piece our child will play, we should think of what skill is the child working on (keep pinky on bow, feet on play position, ringing tone, etc). When Parent A asks Parent B “what piece is your child working on? Parent B could answer “we are working on beautiful tone, round fingers, pinky on top!”

Our children’s education is the most important job that we have ahead of us. They are humanity’s future. They will carry the hope and responsibility of creating a better world. We must try then to give them all the elements we can to ensure that they will reach that goal and the virtues that they will need on the way there.