Frequently asked Questions
Why do you require that students have an acoustic (not electronic) piano?
Suzuki teachers teach the physical aspect of producing sound with the most relaxed
and concentrated body, using the least amount of effort. Training the body in this
way requires that the student is relating to the real, physical world, producing
sound mechanically, with a felt hammer, set into motion by the finger touching a
key, and then striking a metal string. The ear can guide the body to manipulate
sound produced in this way.
Electronically produced sound is a virtual thing, a step away from the physical
world. Hearing it day-after-day deadens the ear’s natural relationship to real sound.
Students who practice on an electronic instrument develop weak technique and an
inability to discern the wide range of physical sound that may be produced on a
Why do you require adjustable seating equipment?
The Suzuki Method has made some adaptations to allow small children to begin
the study of violin and cello, giving young children child-size instruments and
bows and increasing these sizes gradually as the students grow up.
There is no reason that a small child needs a small piano, however, but how any
player, not just a child, is seated at the piano is all-important in learning body
alignment and balance, things that allow human beings to accomplish astounding
physical feats (consider gymnastics, karate, ice skating, horseback riding, to name
a few). All serious pianists use an adjustable chair or bench. Not only is there a
wide range of seating heights required for various differences in human body sizes
and shapes, but also an individual pianist needs to be able to adjust the height of
the seat from day-to-day depending on how the body is feeling, or on the type of
piece being performed. An adjustable chair is as essential as choosing the right size
tennis racket or skis.
In the case of young children, adjustable footrests are also required so that the feet
have stable contact with the floor no matter what height the chair. This firm contact
is essential in developing good balance and control at the piano.
Students who try to practice piano without the benefit of adjustable seating
equipment struggle against a great handicap. Removing this obstacle gives students
the opportunity to succeed. Good tools are required to do the best job.
Is it true that Suzuki students do not learn to read music?
No. While Suzuki students learn to play with natural facility before they actually
read music, reading is taught rigorously when the child is ready. This sequence
mirrors the way children naturally learn to speak a language fluently, before they
are able to read and recite at the same time. Well-taught Suzuki students become
very good, natural readers.
How do I know if my child is ready for lessons or has an aptitude for
A basic philosophy of the Suzuki Method is that most children can be taught
to play an instrument to a high level. Musical talent is not inborn, but the
result of a child’s
environment and education. The normal age range in which young children
are ready to begin their own individual lessons is from 2-5 years old. After
the age of five, nearly all children may be considered ready. Ways to
determine readiness are to individually bring children to observe lessons,
group classes, and to attend performances. Children develop readiness after
being placed regularly in a musical environment for a period of time.
The most important element of readiness is the parents’ commitment to
providing music education for their child.
What style of music do Suzuki students study?
The Suzuki Piano repertoire consists of western classical music, pieces by all the
familiar composers: Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schumann, to name a few.
There are seven published books of repertoire, after which students may continue
studying an established series of classical pieces designed to increase technique
Along the way, many students branch out into other styles of playing when they
utilize their skills in school, religious, or other community activities. A strong
classical foundation allows an easy transition to other styles.
I have heard that it is faster to teach a 6 year old to play an instrument
than it is to teach a 3 year old. If that is so, why start children at age 3
and go through the struggles of working with such a young child?
Common sense would say to wait for the child to get older, however, we have
learned a great deal from teaching 3 year olds and one very important thing we
have learned is that starting at 3 gives the child and parent many advantages. These
are the reasons I like to start as early as age 3. Three year olds are more likely to
want to spend time with their parents, listen to their parents and please their
parents. Three year olds have more time for practice, being at home and being with
their parents. Three year olds love music, repetition, and imitation thus they are
good prospects for the Suzuki Method because they are the corner stones of the
approach. Three year olds ability and willingness to copy what they see both from
their peers and parents makes learning easy and fun which, drives the very young
child to excel. The most important reason for starting a child in lessons when he/
she is 3 is that it allows the parent to begin the process early of building a working
relationship with their child. The Suzuki experience where each day the parent
works through not only the study of music, but also their relationship with their
child develops a bond that will last forever. The key to parents being able to build
this bond, to survive the ups and downs of daily practice, to keep practice positive
and productive is to take parent education classes before the child begins lessons.
When the parent is properly prepared for the job of Suzuki parent, they can forge a
relationship with their child that will endure and bring great joy to both of them.
What commitment is required on the part of parents?
A. Parents play a daily role in their child’s music education by helping them carry
out practice assignments, much in the same way that they help their children
complete school homework assignments. Suzuki students are not expected to
shoulder the entire responsibility for practice until they are teenagers. With a parent acting as a
“personal trainer” at home, the dropout rate among Suzuki students is significantly
lower than in traditional methods.
One parent is designated to attend lessons in order to understand assignments and
how to practice at home. It is not necessary that this parent have had any music
education of his/her own. Starting at the beginning, it is easy for any parent to
understand music to the extent required to provide strong, ongoing support for the
B. The parent is educated by the teacher for several weeks/months before a child
begins lessons. This is called Parent Education.
Why Is Parent Education Essential?
Being a Suzuki parent is a special and unique opportunity for parents; but for a
parent to succeed to the fullest degree, it is best for the parent that they are properly
trained before the child begins else she/he may find unnecessary difficulty in the
Educating a parent before the child’s lessons begin helps to avoid mistakes. If
parent training comes after the child has begun lessons (even a few lessons),
mistakes have already been made that are difficult to fix and those mistakes have
already compromised the child’s learning. Most of the mistakes parents make and
attitudes that children develop happen in the first few months, and in a very short
time small problems become big problems. If teachers train the parent for several
weeks/months prior to the child’s first lesson, nearly all of the problems we see in
studios between parent and child will never occur.
What Are the Benefits of Parent Education?
- We can expect that teaching a nd learning will be more rewarding for everyone
involved and that includes both the parent and the teacher.
- We can expect Suzuki parents to understand every facet of the method and the
philosophy and be able to work pleasantly and productively with their child.
- We can expect that Suzuki parents will understand t hat it is their responsibility to
work with their child in a positive way every day.
- We can expect that Suzuki parents will find pleasure and satisfaction in their work.
- We can expect that the child‘s behavior will also be positive and that his learning
will progress at a pace that is satisfying to him, his parents and his teacher.
- We can expect that the child will develop many abilities even as he hones his
violin or piano skills.
- We can expect to see all of our students excel and stay involved in their study
through the duration of all of the books of their instrument.
- We can expect parents to be truly thankful and grateful for the opportunity to study
the Suzuki approach.
- We can expect to see the Suzuki Method become known as a very excellent music
method where the parent is trained and becomes the home coach and because of
this all children who study the method excel.
- We can expect the rate of dropouts to be significantly lower and the number of
children graduating from the books to rise.
Educated parents will have the tools they need to fix problems before they
happen. The parents will know how to handle lack of attention, bad behavior,
careless playing, and resistance to learning because we have explained Suzuki’s
ideas on these things and taught them how to put these ideas to use. By training the
parent before the child begins, suddenly there is a whole new opportunity for
Suzuki families to find greater understanding and joy in their Suzuki experience.
For the parent the Suzuki experience is an opportunity to learn an enormous
amount about her child and about parenting in general. Teaching your child a skill
every day and viewing your child’s lessons are invaluable in knowing who your
child is and what your child can and will do.
Children learn their most important lessons during the time their parent is
The child is not asked to come and watch the parent practice, but is quickly aware
that what mom or dad is doing and he will be doing later on. This, of course, peeks
the child’s curiosity and interest. The child sees his parent bow, fix the piano bench
and footstool and how watches how serious mom or dad is about resting and ready
positions at the piano. The child observes when mom or dad works on Twinkles,
and watches the hand held in a certain way. The child will notice mom or dad using
“ready…go” between the various groups of notes/fingers so that each time the
hand is in a good position before playing.
The child will not understand the significance of all of this, nor do we need him to.
But he does already senses that this is an important thing to do, and that there is a
precise way of doing it. All we want for the child at this time is to develop a desire
to come to lessons and learn like his parent is learning. We ask the parents to not
instruct the child nor call him to watch as they practice. The teacher is to be the
first one to instruct the child.
If the child wanders in and watches the parent’s practice it is fine, but he should not
be allowed to disrupt the parent’s work. If the child tries to play the piano or insist
on instruction the parent should simply say either, “I need to practice now so I
cannot talk to you” or “I need to concentrate when I practice so if you need me
now I will practice later.” It is good for the parent to reassure the child that he too
will have the same opportunity to learn and that it is very enjoyable and something
to look forward to. It is also o.k. for the child to sit at the piano by himself if he
wants, but the parent should not be involved in teaching and guiding the child
until finishing the parent education course.
Because the parents begin the listening routine (several hours a day) during the
parent training, the child has the advantage of hearing his music, the recordings of
Suzuki Book One. The child will come to his first lesson full of confidence because
he has memorized the entire book. What an advantage for him to come to his first
lesson feeling that those songs he has internalized are his and that he knows them.
He is already one with the music that he is going to learn to play.