Why Should I enroll my Child in Private Lessons?
Many schools in the Greater Washington area offer instrumental instruction as part of the curriculum, but there are a few significant differences between learning an instrument in school and studying one-on-one with a professional musician. Most importantly, school lessons are what most musicians would call “group class” or “sectionals,” a learning environment shared with anywhere from 10 to 30 other students. From a developmental perspective, even some of the best schools delay instrumental education until 3rd grade when students are already exiting the ideal window for learning the language of music. During private lessons, your child will be challenged to think, grow, and perform to the best of their ability and not be limited to the progress of their peers.
When Do Lessons Start?
Lessons coincide with the academic calendar of the public schools of The District of Columbia. The first week of lessons in Fall 2019 will begin the week of August 26th.
How should I prepare for the first lesson?
New and continuing students receive a Welcome Packet via email at the beginning of August which details all materials necessary for the first lessons. In preparation, students should establish a “listening routine” in the weeks prior to their first lesson during which they watch classical musicians on YouTube, listen to the local classical music radio station, attend live performances of acoustic instrumental music, or familiarize themselves with the repertoire in Suzuki Volume 1.
What is the Parent Commitment?
For students enrolled in traditional lessons, the parent commitment is one of continuity and support. Parents are expected to help their children attend lessons punctually, regularly, and prepared to put forth their best effort. Parents of successful students are committed to to supporting their child’s music education by encouraging and providing for ample practice time at home.
Suzuki parents take a more active role in their child’s musical development. In addition to observing their child’s private and partner/group lessons, Suzuki parents take notes, write questions, establish practice and listening routines, and act as “home teacher” each day to help their child prepare for the next lesson. Any parent can be a Suzuki parent. You do not need previous musical training!
What are Partner Lessons?
Through bi-weekly rehearsals with one or more students, students transfer the skills they are working to develop during their private instruction to an ensemble setting. Partner and group lessons are a precursor to the chamber music, string ensemble, and youth orchestra experiences that students participate in as they become more musically mature. During the early months of instruction, parent classes are a substitute for partner/group lessons.
WHat is Parent Class?
It is important that Suzuki parents find opportunities to transfer the information from the professional instructor to the home practice space while recognizing and preserving the uniqueness of their child. Personal growth can only happen through meaningful practice, and practicing is hard work! Rarely, if ever, will parent class involve instrumental instruction. In parent class, you’ll read about the Suzuki approach, learn strategies to keep practicing focused and productive, discuss experiences with other parents, and strengthen the final Parent-Teacher connection of the Suzuki Triangle.
How much practicing is REquired?
The answer to this question is different for every child, every day. Success does not have a number of minutes or hours per day. Dr. Suzuki said to “only practice on days that you eat.” Daily practice is essential, but so is focused attention during your practice time. In the beginning, students will practice for only a few minutes at a time, a few times per day. As they build mental and physical skills, students will be able to increase the time they are able to maintain focus, thus increasing their practice time each day. Keeping with the food analogy, healthy snacks each day are preferable to a large, caloric feast every few days.
Where do we purchase an instrument?
Check out the “Instrument Rental” section of this website for instrument shops in this area. Rental instruments are encouraged for young students for both financial and developmental reasons. Violins and violas come in a variety of sizes intended to support a child at various stages of physical development, and rental plans provide more support for maintenance and repairs than purchasing an instrument outright. Fractional size instruments rarely maintain or appreciate from their purchase value, making resale harder when your child grows. Long-standing relationships with local shops can be financially advantageous when the time comes to purchase a “forever instrument.”
How Do I decide between Traditional and Suzuki Instruction?
Your child’s age at their first lesson usually dictates this decision for you. Suzuki instruction is best begun between ages 4 to 6, but it is less effective to start the Suzuki approach when your child is older. Once the groundwork is laid for the Suzuki approach, students can continue with this type of instruction until they complete all 10 volumes of repertoire; however, they may also choose to transition to traditional lessons before the start of middle school. Of course, the path of success is different for every child!
I have heard that Suzuki Students do not read music. Is this true?
Yes, Suzuki students do not rely on sheet music to learn or perform repertoire. Suzuki is a “Mother Tongue” method, meaning that aural and technical/physical fluency takes precedence over reading comprehension. With Ms. Lauren, students build symbolic association by learning to read notes and count rhythms early in their music education. Later, when they have compiled an aural and technical/physical toolkit, they are better prepared to give syntax to familiar tonal and rhythm patterns.
My Child Receives Specialized education Services. Can they learn violin?
EVERY child can learn to play an instrument! Ms. Lauren has taught students with IEPs and 504 accommodations for over a decade and will work with you to gain a deeper understanding of your child’s strengths and challenges.
What if my child becomes injured and cannot play?
If your child has an injury (for example, a sprained wrist) and can’t play but is otherwise in good health, please bring them to their lesson! Music education is not limited to physical skills, so expect to engage in music history or music theory lessons throughout their healing process.