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Saturday, November 26, 2016

10 Rules for Success for Suzuki Parents

Everyone likes to follow a prescription for success. The message is so promising: follow this 10-step plan and success will be yours.

In truth, there are simple steps that Suzuki parents can follow that will lead to successful practices in the Suzuki home. Here is a list of my ten favorite rules for success:

Arm in Cast Bow Practice
Practice Every Day! Teachers like to quote Dr. Suzuki: "You don't have to practice every day, only on the days that you eat." This advice takes care of the issue of illness. Even if students have an injury, they can still practice with some accommodation. Practicing every day keeps the memory alive, the muscles warm, and the motivation inspired. I have a student at the university who has practiced every day since she was five years old, even when she was in the hospital.

Listen Every Day! This rule seems so simple to me that I am surprised to discover a parent who forgets to do it. The magic of daily listening is incredible. Learning seems effortless. What parent does not want that?

Attend Lessons. When students and parents attend lessons regularly, there is little opportunity to pick up bad habits or overlook incorrectly learned material. Go to lessons, even if you or your child may not be feeling 100%. If you must miss a lesson, send a video recording of the child playing through the lesson material. I have counseled many students in this manner when we were unable to see each other in person due to illness. I could identify immediately any incorrect habits or other practice issues before the student had gone too far down the learning path.

Attend Group Classes. Children love to learn with other children. When parents complain to me that they are having a hard time at home trying to motivate their children to practice, I ask whether the parents and students come to group class. Group classes are fun and great motivators for home practice. The smart parent will use group classes as a way to encourage, inspire, and motivate the student to practice at home. Group classes are also a great way for teachers to address one point to a large group all at once. If parents miss group classes, parents may miss out on important announcements or that terrific, fun activity that can only happen in a group setting.

Take Notes at Lessons. Parents can mold home practices much easier if they have information available to them from the lesson. The best way to do this is for the parents to take notes at the lesson. If the teacher has to do this, then the teacher is taking up teaching time to do it. Also, the teacher may be rushed for time or unable to remember all that occurred during the lesson, so the teacher may not be as thorough at noting what needs to be practiced based on what occurred at the lesson as the parent would be. Taking notes is as simple as just writing a narrative of what occurred at the lesson. Write these notes as bullet points. Parents will be surprised to discover how much information will be revealed through the simple act of taking notes at lessons.

Take Notes at Institutes, Workshops, and Group Classes. Yes, you can take notes in other settings besides lessons, and parents will gather much useful information. Why wait until your child has a sagging left hand or crooked bow, when you can see that useful information in another child's lesson or in a group class? Start a parent notebook today. You will treasure this notebook later as a collection of memories of your child's Suzuki journey.

Learn About the Suzuki Method. Read one of Dr. Suzuki's books:


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I think we all should educate ourselves as much as we can about the Suzuki Method and Dr. Suzuki's work concerning talent education so that we can share his message with confidence and knowledge. We are ambassadors to the world about this fabulous journey.

Mentor A New Parent. If you are a seasoned parent in the Suzuki world, pass on that knowledge to another parent who may be new to the studio or the Suzuki method. When we teach, we learn twice, as my blog states at the top of the page. Share your knowledge with another parent. Be a mentor for someone and accept the advice and assistance of a parent who has blazed the trail before you.

Practice With Your Child. I am dismayed to witness the large number of parents who seem almost eager to pass up the opportunity to spend time with their children in lessons, group classes, and practices. Rather than sit close and observe what the child learns, these parents drift away to another room and a different activity. Even if the child has matured enough to practice independently, the parent can still maintain a close connection with the work the child does in practices. Listen to the child play, involve the student in conversations about the learning and the practice work, and most of all, stay connected. Show interest. Be interested. Children grow up too fast. Capture as many moments and memories of this time as you can today before this time passes by. Put your phone away and watch your child amaze you.

Make the Suzuki Journey a Part of Your Entire Life. Suzuki music lessons are not something to be turned on and off once a day during practices or once a week at lessons and group classes. The Suzuki method is a philosophy for life and learning. Look for ways to use the knowledge of Dr. Suzuki in other aspects of your life, such as structuring a home environment of chores, service, learning, and cooperation as a family with others in the work place, at school, or in the community. Spread the word about the wealth and beauty of the method through your actions as a parent and family within your larger world and community.

I guarantee that if Suzuki parents were to follow these 10 basic rules for success, their children would have smiling faces and happy practices!

Happy Practicing!

----- Paula -----

© 2016 by Paula E. Bird


  1. Above all, work at turning practice time into quality time. I'm not talking about time for spoiling and indulgence. I mean time spent learning, discovering and growing with your child and creating that very special bond that only comes from working together towards a goal.

    1. Thank you, Sue! Absolutely spot on! And may I plug your own website? Because I think you have some great ideas about review: