Rebekah Buss earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance from The University of Wisconsin, and her Master’s Degree in Piano Performance from The University of Iowa. Educated and certified in both traditional piano and all levels of Suzuki piano teaching methods, Buss is an active member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas(SAA), MTNA/NCTM, ISMTA, and the National Guild of Piano Teachers (Piano Guild).
Each year her students take part in opportunities to perform and sharpen their skills as complete musicians, performing in highly esteemed and rewarding festivals and competitions such as ISMTA, AIM examinations, Piano Guild, Geneva Grandquist, and Berkley Pendell, local festivals and concerto competitions. Buss’ students have gone on to further their piano studies earning scholarships to accredited college music programs throughout the U.S.
Buss has participated in piano workshops for Dalcroze Eurythmics at Longy School of Music and Carnegie Mellon, the International Workshop for Piano and Strings for Performance and Pedagogy at Stavanger Konserthus, and Regaland Conservatory in Stavanger, Norway, as well as the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, Scotland. Buss’ broad piano performance experience extends to solo, accompanying, chamber, large ensembles and piano monster concerts.
About the Suzuki Method
Shinichi Suzuki, the brilliant founder of the Suzuki method of teaching music was born in 1898 and died in 1998, at the age of 99. His parents owned a violin factory in Japan, but it was not until Suzuki reached the age of 17 that he began to study the violin after hearing a recording of a famous violinist playing Ave Maria. Shortly thereafter, a Japanese nobleman, who was about to embark on a trip to Europe, invited Suzuki to accompany him and pay all his expenses. Suzuki eventually studied in Germany for four years with a renowned teacher. When he returned to Japan and was teaching at the Imperial Conservatory, a man who had a four-year-old son asked Suzuki if he would teach his son to play the violin. Suzuki’s first thought was “how?” He had no idea how to teach a four year old. After thinking deeply about the man’s request, Suzuki realized that very young Japanese children by the age of five or six were almost fluent in what is a very complicated language. “Since they all speak Japanese so easily and fluently, there must be a secret; and this must be training. Indeed, all children everywhere in the world are brought up by a perfect educational method: their mother tongue. Why not apply this method to other faculties? If a child cannot do his arithmetic, it is said that his intelligence is below average. Yet he can speak the difficult Japanese language—or his own native language—very well. Isn’t this something to ponder and think about? In my opinion the child who cannot do arithmetic is not below average in intelligence; it is the educational system that is wrong. His ability or talent simply has not been developed properly. It is astonishing that no one discovered this before, although the situation clearly has existed throughout human history.” Well before children begin to read the language of their native tongue, they learn how to speak it fluently because they are totally immersed in it from birth, mainly in their home. Dr. Suzuki took the four-year old boy as his student and the little boy grew up and became a world famous violinist.
Suzuki students are taught to read after they learn to make beautiful sounds on the piano by developing their ear and technique. This sequence mirrors the way children naturally learn to speak a language fluently, before they are able to read it. Well-taught Suzuki students become very good, natural music readers. This concept of teaching one skill at a time is an essential part of the Suzuki approach. The traditional way of teaching music had always been, and still is, to teach the visual symbols (the notes) for the sound first and then to make the sound. The Suzuki approach grounds itself on the child’s total immersion in music, mainly in the home, which aims at developing a musical “inner-ear”. This devotion to the purely aural aspect of music in the beginning without the distraction of the printed notes develops musicianship and technique almost immediately.
An essential ingredient for a child to learn well is parent involvement. After a brief period of parent training, the child begins lessons with the parent present at every lesson. At home, the parent becomes the child’s mentor, encouraging and reinforcing skills and concepts taught at the lesson, always in a positive way, remembering that the creation and appreciation of beauty is the ultimate goal. Being a Suzuki parent is a special and unique opportunity for parents; but for a parent to succeed to the fullest degree, a parent must be properly trained before the child begins to avoid unnecessary difficulties in daily practice.
Parent training is an essential component of the Suzuki approach. The designated practice parent takes a Parent Education class with his/her teacher before the child’s lessons begin. It is necessary for parents to decide who will be the parent to bring their child to the lesson, take good notes during the lesson, and practice with the child every day. The same parent needs to make this commitment. Most of the mistakes parents make and attitudes that children develop happen as early as the first few lessons, and in a very short time, small problems become big problems. Educated parents will have the tools they need to fix problems before they happen. Parents will know how to handle lack of attention, mis-behavior, careless playing, and resistance to learning because their teacher explains Dr. Suzuki’s ideas about this, and teaches parents how to put these ideas to use.
The Suzuki experience is an opportunity for parents to learn an enormous amount about his/her child and about parenting in general. Teaching your child a skill every day is invaluable in knowing who your child is and what your child can and will be able to do.
Group classes serve to re-enforce lesson materials, as well as to introduce new concepts.
The group class setting offers enriching experiences, such as interacting with others of similar age and learning level who are striving to achieve the same goals. Some activities include playing musical games, rhythm exercises and performing for each other. Group classes also foster a feeling of camaraderie amongst the students. This gives them the opportunity to listen to each other perform “live” music. This is a great complement to the listening they do at home of recordings. Parents need to take part, sometimes as active participants, sometimes as audience members, gently encouraging their children, and complimenting them when they do well.
The core of Talent Education is natural learning. An integral part is listening to good quality recordings of the repertoire taught. Suzuki families play recordings for their children daily. The result of providing this environment is that the child will begin to understand the sound and thus will naturally be able to transfer this understanding to the piano.