en, Suzuki method

Suzuki blog about positive practice

by Rebecca Wannyn

Dear families,

We are already five weeks into the school year, and I hope that you and your children have found a way to settle into the new routine.

Maybe your child just started instrument lessons a month ago. When you were told that daily practice was needed, it all seemed so very logical and natural. Of course, you thought you would easily find a way to integrate those ten, fifteen minutes of practice in your lives. But then the school year started, and your child came home from school, half of the days you were all totally exhausted in the evenings, and you realised it is not at all that easy…

Do not worry, your feelings are totally normal and this is a struggle all Suzuki families go through. All the parents who attended our last parent talk, including myself, admitted to finding it difficult. So no, you are not alone and no, your child is not impossible. It is hard work to educate our children into music, but it is so worth it! In this blogpost, I will share some tips that can make it easier.

  • Routine is crucial. Think about your own motivation to – for instance – do sports regularly. The beginning is often difficult and you might even need some external motivation to get started, but once you have some kind of routine it becomes easy, even addictive, and it is very satisfying.
    The same is true for your children. Establishing a routine is very challenging for most of the families, but if you succeed, you will notice that it is so much easier to get your child to play every day with hardly any exception, than trying to aim for three, four times a week. For most children, practising daily around the same time works best, but you might also work out a week schedule.
  • Have a plan. If you want your children to improve a skill, direct their attention to the wanted skill before they start playing. Do not first let them play through a piece, because it is likely that they will be less demanding than you and find that the job was done. If you immediately direct their focus towards a particular task (e.g. check if all 4 nails are above the fretboard), they will accept criticism more easily and be more willing to repeat the task if they realise themselves that there is room for improvement.
  • The first step in practising is listening. When things are difficult, ask yourself how much you’ve listened to the repertoire recently. Without listening, your child is sailing without a compass.
  • Pay attention to how you invite your child to practice
    • Give a choice
      Do you want to practice before or after dinner/ reading a book?
    • Don’t ask a question that your child can reply with a no (Do you want to practice/play guitar?)
      Say for example: It’s time for guitar/harp, what game shall we do today? Shall we let the dice decide how many times we play Twinkle? Can we play Hi Mummy in 5 different ways? Shall we build a tower or let your lego horses race?
    • Give a small concert
      Grandma heard that you learned a new song and she is so curious. Shall we make a video call and play a concert for her?
  • While being consistent, always respect your children’s emotions. Do not scold them for expressing their emotions. Do not immediately think that they work against you. Try instead to find out what is troubling them so much and help them overcome the fear for a certain piece or technique. Talk to the teacher if things are difficult. Your teacher might have experience with other children facing the same problems. The step you need to take at that moment may be too big and your teacher can help you to break down the task into smaller steps that can be achieved successfully so that the children can restore their confidence. And do not forget: every child is different. What worked for your oldest might be totally off-putting for your youngest.
  • Our goal is to nurture our children’s love for music, and through that we give them also the gift of learning patience, perseverance, strong listening skills, respect for the people around us, ability to communicate etc. When things get difficult, try going back to the basics: sit together, listen to some beautiful music, then move to active listening, and gradually find your way back to the instrument.

And a last and very important tip: do not wait until the motivation is gone before you talk to your teacher. We are there to listen and help where we can. We are in this together. If we work as a team – the famous Suzuki triangle (parent – teacher – child) – we can overcome all obstacles! We are also a community. Come to our parent talks, attend group lessons regularly, go to Suzuki events where we make music together and where children, parents and teachers share ideas and motivate each other.

Discover our calendar with workshops and activities for parents and children here.

Next event: Friday 22 October 2021, Dalcroze Eurhythmics for adults with Giusi Mazzella.