RESPONSIBILITIES OF A SUZUKI PARENT
Attend lessons, except on the advice of the teacher, after consultation. Keep in the background while there, remembering the child cannot learn from two teachers at once. If you handle it well, he will not often look your way during lessons after a few weeks.
Help your child recall the lesson. This begins in the car after leaving the studio. It should never wait 24 hours. It will be hard enough for you to remember. Take notes at lessons, though the child should still be encouraged to remember as much as he can.
Handle the violin yourself at home, learning to play the first book.
Be responsible for playing the current record daily, helping to establish the basic patterns of record use. Positive comments from you which show interest can also help train your child to listen effectively. "How smoothly the tones are connected," or "I never noticed those accents before," are the type of comments most helpful.
Become accustomed to repetition of the recorded models and continued use of the same repertoire over long periods. Remember that children do not tire of repetition unless others show boredom in their remarks, manner, or tone of voice. The safest wayto avoid this is to form the habit of searching for new ideas previously overlooked. Not only will you keep interested, but you will help your child listen.
See that the violin and bow are in good condition, and that the teacher's recommendations for supplies or repairs are promptly taken care of. Keep in mind the following essential elements before the technique of playing can be at all effective:
· Horsehair. Keep at proper playing and storing tension. Rehair about once yearly.
· Rosin. Use daily.
· Strings. Not dull or false.
· Violin. Good bridge, properly fitted. Sound post in proper position. Pegs and tuners that work. No unglued joint or cracks.
If the violin is broken and needs gluing, do not attempt home repairs. Most glue jobs involve the know-how of a regular violin repair person and are very inexpensive. Make sure the rosin is in usuble shape, not in bits. Rosin the bow yourself if it looks shiny against the light. Many children don't apply enough at first, while later they may apply too mich. In that case, clouds of dust fly from the bow when the thumb nail is drawn across the hair near the frog. This is the frequent cause of a rough, scratchy tone. Make sure the bow hair tension is correct as shown by the teacher, with care taken to relax the tension at the end of each practice. Many bow sticks are warped and ruined by the failure to learn correct and regular use of the screw. Also, train your child not to touch the horsehair while not playing.
See that your child attends all recitals, classes, and special events since these are scheduled for motivation and musical education. The recitals are unique in character and provide enjoyment for the students, families, and visitors. Show interest in other students, but avoid making comparisons between your child and others. Such comparisons tend to be unfair to all concerned, especially since you know a great deal about your own child and very little about the backgrounds of all the others.
Keep growing- musically as well as in other ways. Children grow best in an atmosphere of adult growth. It is contagious.
Give serious attention to Suzuki's concepts. They are the fruits of a long life of musical and spiritual search. The children of the world may well benefit from the extension of his ideas into many fields.
Avoid discouragement. When in need of a lift, remember such statements of Suzuki's as the following:
· High spirit and high feeling must be taught all children through some art.
· How we teach is not as important as how we give. (You are your child's teacher, too, so take note.)
· When love is deep, much can be accomplished.
Practice with your child until he can work effectively on his own. Two or more practice periods a day are far better than one long period, throughout one's study. Dr. Suzuki advised one mother of a three-year-old, "Two minutes with joy, five times a day."
If you wish your child to achieve permanent good violin posture, plan where you sit or stand in relation to him. Try to keep to his left so he can look directly along the strings and over the scroll at you without spoiling his alignment. If he moves, you can move too. If you go to the piano, align him again so he can look toward you along his normal sight line when holding the violin properly. If he is working with music at the more advanced stage, see that he again aligns himself so he does not bring his violing down toward his front.
Accustom your child to your helping fixing his fingers on the bow from time to time, to shaping his left hand over the fingerboard, and to helping him establish the violin correctly on his shoulder from time to time also. This should be continued for most of the first year, except with mature students capable of taking care in making such adjustments themselves. Keep in mind the helpful slogan of alignment:
NOSE, BOWS, ELBOWS, TOES (left).
Be responsible for getting practice started, as well as for helping your child learn how to practice. Don't blame your child for not remembering to practice, or for not wanting to stop doing something else. Don't shout out of the window, "Stop playing this minute. Come in and practice." Experiment with different ideas, talk to other parents and find out what works for them. Many mothers report that children appear if they hear their mother start to practice the violin. (The child's piece of course; this doesn't apply to mothers who already play the violin.) Others find similar results if they start toplay the current violin piece on the record. Remember, too that nothing works forever.
Keep inventing new challenges, a la Suzuki. Keep your child playing while you talk to him. This will help him take corrections from the teacher without having to interrupt his playing.
Remember that practice is lonely and children like company when practicing. If your child starts resenting your help, take stock of your ways. Keep a light touch, without diminishing the sense of practice being important. Remember the value of change for the sake of change. Expect ups and downs and plateaus.
Avoid making issues, even though we all know disciplined regularity as an ultimate necessity for musical achievement. What we know in theory can't always be put into practice. If your household is extremely well organized, perhaps a practice schedule will work beautifully. If you are erractic, informal, and subject to enthusiastic impulses, the practice pattern will be a different story. Don't expect your child to be essentially different in his practice habits from the total family pattern. This is not to say that you can't change the family pattern as you grow together in new directions. Just don't put all the blame for a poor practice habit on the child's temperment or the phase he is going through.
If the child recognizes some progress toward the end of each practice period it will be more likely that he will look forward to each practice session. He may need help in finding that progress. Most children are suspicious of general remarks like "that was very good" unless they are verytiny. Many children can hear only the negative things about their playing unless helped to balance the picture. They will believe your comments if you remark on specific improvements. The most helpful type runs something like this: "Your tone is beter today!" "You certainly could play that part of the piece faster than y esterday!" "You stood much taller today!"
Progress can also be better noted in one of the review pieces than in the newest number. Form a pattern of ending each practice session with a favorite piece, where success is assured. It is most important to end each practice with a good sound in the ear.
Dr. Suzuki's concept of the correct division of time in practice is illustrated in the division of the circle below: