Step 1: Fill out an Enquiry Form
Step 2: Observe individual and group lessons
Observation is for the benefit of parents, children and the teacher.
You are potentially going to be having lessons with me for 8-10 years (sometimes longer!), so we all need to be sure it is going to be the right fit. Enjoy the process. Your journey has begun. This time of quiet observation will be incredibly valuable. Consider these observations to be free lessons! When the time comes to start lessons you and your child will be ready and excited to start.
In the lesson.....
Observe what the Suzuki parent does in the lesson. Most of the time, parents are quietly taking notes. I ask parents to write down everything I say. And to take videos/pictures so they have a very clear idea what to work on at home. Some parents use notebooks. Others use their phones to take notes. Observe the language I use with the child. You may notice that I give honest, specific praise. It is not useful to say 'good job' after everything the child does. Nor is it useful to focus heavily on what they are doing 'wrong'. There is always something to praise that the child is doing well. I then choose just one achievable thing to work on in a positive way.
Observe how I use games in the lessons for repeating tricky spots in the pieces, learning new concepts or working on particular techniques. Your job at home will be to try and recreate the atmosphere in the lesson (lighthearted but focused). Imagine you are the one taking notes and picture how you would work on the lesson points at home with your child. At home, it would be useful if you could carve out 15-20 minutes of time without any distractions (which would become your practice time) to listen to the Suzuki CD whilst doing a music related activity such as drawing a violin and labelling it or making a model of a violin you will use before the real one. Ask me for instructions on how to make a box violin.
I know you will be itching to get your hands on a violin yourself and may be wondering why you can't just start now! But let me tell you... the things you learn before you start lessons will help you become a fine musician. The first thing you will learn is that you can't just pick up a violin and play. There are lots of little steps to master before you put bow to string.
For example, there is a particular way to stand and a very special way of holding the bow. The violin has to learn to sit on your shoulder without being held in your hand. Musicians have to get very good at breaking problems down into little steps. Watch the children who are having lessons and see how we make tricky things easier. You can try making a bow hold on a pencil while you watch. Show me at the end of the lesson. I would love to see what you are picking up from the children you are watching!
I like to do things really properly from the beginning so that you won't be disappointed when you do get to play the violin.
It is very much like learning a new language. Before you learned to speak, you had to listen - and listen lots! I look forward to getting to know you more throughout your observation period.
When will my child be ready?
Throughout your observation period I will get a really good idea whether your child is developmentally ready to start learning the violin. If they can observe quietly and calmly for a good 15 minutes, this is a great sign. If they continue to watch with interest over the course of several months, even better. Don't worry if their interest is up and down. This will happen after you have started lessons too, once they realise how tricky the violin is. Your job is to be a steady rock. Never, for example say things like 'I thought you wanted to play the violin?' 'Don't you like the violin any more?'
Instead, expect that there will be ups and downs. Continue to stimulate their interest by playing the pieces every day, carving out a specific time for practice (whether anything gets done or not) listening to famous violinists on YouTube, taking them to concerts and showing excitement in their learning. The single biggest motivator for children is being able to play well, so if you stick to your daily practice routine like GLUE, it will be very rewarding for you both.
Very often I am approached by parents who tell me their child is very musical and think violin would suit them. This is fantastic! However...the single most important thing for quite a number of years is the commitment and enthusiasm from parents.
If parents are excited about learning (including observing) then the child will be too.
New families observe for a minimum of one full term. Sometimes I advise a longer observation period.
Parents need to have read Nurtured by Love, by Suzuki before starting lessons.
Please note that you are not guaranteed a slot by observing.
Sometimes it becomes clear that this may not be the right method for you at this time.
If this is the case I will likely advise that you take a break in observing for 6 months or so.
Step 3: Listen
Listen daily to Suzuki Violin Volume 1. You can also start listening to Books 2, 3 and 4 too.
Before your child has a lesson, they should be able to sing all the pieces in Book 1.
Step 4: Waiting List
There is currently a waiting list.
Please continue to observe until a slot becomes available.
Nurtured by Love, Suzuki
Helping Parents Practice, Ed Sprunger