Thank you for your interest in our Suzuki School cello program!
Here are some FAQ’s:
What is a Suzuki Program?
A Suzuki program is comprised of teachers who have registered training with the Suzuki Association of the Americas and who are committed to excellence in pedagogy for children of all ages/backgrounds. A Suzuki program includes private lessons, group classes, and performance opportunities for all students. A Suzuki program is a community of parents/teachers/students who believe that the study of music is a lifelong and valuable skill.
Why is one-on-one instruction important?
Working closely with one student at a time allows the teacher to get to know the details of learning style(s) and personality, as well as develop a bond of mutual trust and respect. The study of music is so nuanced and detailed that students progress much more rapidly, build better skills, and derive more enjoyment when they are given tailored instruction.
What is the best age to begin?
There is no magical age at which to begin musical study. Every child is different in temperament, physical development and focusing abilities, so the age of readiness will be specific to them. If you are unsure, I recommend that you observe (to see what is expected of young students) and schedule a one-on-one consult for assessment. If your child is too young to begin studying the cello right away, it is still beneficial to get them involved in/exposed to as much music as possible. Attend concerts, try an early-childhood music class, sing with them, buy a book on rhythm games (this is a great resource), listen to the Suzuki Cello School recordings, and notice what they gravitate toward.
What is the parent’s role?
In short, the parent is responsible for at-home practice. This includes (but is not limited to):
Respect for child
Respect for teacher
Finding a teacher who is the right fit for their child
Obtaining the necessary materials to set the student up for success: mat, chair, instrument, rosin, books, music stand, etc.
Taking clear/concise notes that can be referred back to at home
Taking clear/concise video that can be referred back to at home
Attentive support of the teacher and child during lessons
Attending parent meetings
Facilitating regular attendance at lessons and group classes
What is the teacher’s role?
In short, the teacher is responsible for being ready to teach. This includes (but is not limited to):
Respect for student
Respect for parent
Development of short- and long-term goals for each student
Lesson planning to ensure logical progressions from week-to-week
Detailed record keeping to ensure continuity from week-to-week & chart progress
Clear communication of weekly expectations and assignments
Supplying aids to support at-home practice: charts, videos, notes
Thorough knowledge of all Suzuki repertoire (all pieces memorized)
Thorough knowledge of all supplemental repertoire
Curating knowledge of new techniques/ideas/methods/styles
Continuing education: pedagogy trainings, conferences, certifications, practicums
Continued development as an artist-teacher: orchestral playing, chamber music participation, solo performances, etc.
What is the student’s role?
In short, each cello student is responsible for being ready to learn. This includes (but is not limited to):
Respect for self
Respect for teacher
Respect for parent
Respect for instrument
Respect for peers
Attentive listening: ability to focus mind and body on task at hand, even for short durations
Respectful contribution of musical ideas/thoughts/opinions
Receptivity to new ideas
Willingness to try/experience new things (and try again, and again, and again, and again…)
Our style of teaching emphasizes review so that we can build a musical library in our memory (and muscles) as we progress. Working on a “one and done” model causes us to miss out on the connections between pieces, while working “one plus one” allows us to build skills sequentially. In short, we use the familiar to learn the new.
Why do very young students begin learning without the cello?
The very youngest students (ages 3-7) begin working with a practice bow to train the bow hold first. This hand shape is very specific and takes many successful repetitions (a minimum of 500) before it is strong enough to be maintained while simultaneously balancing the body, holding the cello, learning pieces, etc.
Is the Suzuki Method taught by ear only?
The Suzuki Method places a large emphasis on training the ear, and students continue listening to their pieces and learning by ear throughout their education. Reading and theory are also extremely important components of the musician’s skill set, and are introduced at a time deemed appropriate by the teacher (see below).
When do you begin reading music?
Reading readiness is specific to each child and determined by the level of physical ease/technical proficiency with the instrument. Most students are doing preliminary reading by the end of Book 1, but everyone is different. However, all students begin pre-reading activities from the very first lesson: singing and rhythm work to train the ear and organize the body, pitch recognition and fingerboard geography games to forge connections between written symbols and their locations on the cello, and learning the musical alphabet forward/backward/with skips.
Do you hold group classes? Why does my child have to participate?
The Suzuki School runs year-round weekly group classes, currently held at the JCC La Jolla. Participation is mandatory to maintain membership within the studio. Group classes are a unique feature of our program, and provide students with valuable ensemble experience (even if they are pre-reading), as well as opportunities for building a musical community and for serving our greater community.
Do you hold regular recitals? Why does my child have to participate?
The Suzuki School holds four recitals per year: two solo and two group. Participation is mandatory to maintain membership within the studio. Regular recital opportunities give each student valuable performance experience from the very beginning, allowing us to celebrate and share our learning.
Do you allow observations? Yes! All new parents are asked to complete two group class and two private lesson observations as part of the pre-enrollment process. You are always welcome to observe more than the minimum. Observations give you an opportunity to see the relationships between parent/teacher, child/teacher, and the students in the program.
A few questions to keep in mind when observing any lesson/any teacher:
-Does the lesson contain periods of concentrated work interspersed with opportunities to refresh/refocus?
-Are corrections made in an encouraging and supportive way and/or given non-verbally?
-Does the teacher use humor/movement/change of scenery/a material to diffuse frustration or stagnation in the learning process?
-Does the teacher demonstrate the ability to solve basic technical problems that a student may have?
-Does the teacher make sure the parent understands how & what to practice at home?
-Are students engaged in the learning process? Are students given time and space to think and ask questions?
-Is there a focus on skill-building and an emphasis on independent thought?