The Suzuki Triangle
Most important for making a success of learning an instrument with the Suzuki method is the teacher - child – parent triangle.
While the child learns from the teacher during the lesson at the teaching studio, in the early stages of learning an instrument the child has to rely on his parent for teaching him at home (the parent becomes the “home teacher”once back at home and without the teacher’s help). The parent learns along with the child in the lesson (at times the parent has a lesson themselves in order to be able to understand exactly what the child is learning and doing), so once both, parent and child, have left the lesson, the child is not left to his own devices but gets the support and advice he needs in order to have an efficient practice session at home.
For the child it can be challenging at times when it realises that learning a string instrument needs regular practice and a certain amount of focus. But the child should always know that small steps in the development and progress are fine.
Parents spend the most time with their child, know the child the best and are the greatest influence on it. Therefore it is important that the parent guides the child’s practice and helps the child understand what is needed to learn the skills of playing an instrument.
The parent’s role is:
-Learning the fundamentals of playing the cello and how to take care of the instrument
-Learning about the Suzuki approach by reading Suzuki specific books and attending parent classes
-Attending one- to-one lessons and group lessons with your child, taking notes and practising with your child at home
-Playing the Suzuki recordings regularly
-Creating a positive, nurturing environment of support, affection, encouragement and understanding.
The teacher should nurture and teach the parent to create a musical home environment.
The teacher should be a model for playing the instrument as well as for joyful learning.
It is important for the teacher to help the parent understand the principles of playing the instrument so the parent can relate to what the child is doing and trying to learn.
A teacher should specify certain tasks for the parent and child to accomplish at home and suggest ways to make the practice enjoyable for both: parent and child.
If done the right way, it can be a wonderful bonding experience for parent and child.
More advanced stage:
Once the child starts to play advanced repertoire (assuming that the technique has developed steadily and the child now has a solid understanding of the technique in principle), the parent’s role changes.
Rather than being the “home teacher” and thus an authority, the parent becomes more of a partner in the child- parent relationship.
While the parent’s role still is to support the student, to help him organise his practice time and to attend the lessons, the student will by now possibly have “overtaken” the parent (unless the parent is also a cellist / violinist/ pianist etc.).
With the knowledge and experience of how to practice from the previous years the student becomes more independent and self- sufficient.
The on going role of the parent:
The role of the parent has changed from being a home teacher to a practice partner. A partner, who still advises and gives feed- back, encourages to practise and helps to motivate the student, but who also gives the student the freedom to experiment, to find his own way and even to make his own mistakes.