Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dr. Suzuki never told me

I'm utterly convinced of one thing when it comes to Suzuki violin teaching and parenting: It's much easier to be the teacher than the parent.

As the teacher, I can say things like: "Make sure to make your practice sessions with your child positive!"

As the parent, I know firsthand what it's like to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from exploding when the c-sharp is played wrong for the tenth time in a row.

As the teacher, I can remind my students and parents why it's important that they practice every single day.

As the parent, I inwardly long for a Friday morning break from practicing as much as my daughter does.  (And sometimes we take one.  Shhhh!  Don't tell!)

As a teacher, I am constantly talking to my students about the value of listening to their Suzuki CD.

As the parent, I hae been known to switch the CD off in favor of anything else because I cannot take one. more. minute. of violin.

As the teacher, I remind my students why it's so important that they practice their scales as part of their daily practice routine.

As the parent, I want to kick and scream as much as my nine-year-old did when her teacher introduced a new scale program that took an hour and twenty minutes of our practice time to get through this morning.  Curse you Carl Flesch!

As a teacher, I work hard to provide educational, enriching musical performances and opportunities for my students.

As a parent, I sometimes think that if we have one more wonderful "musical opportunity" I might just curl up in a corner with my blanket and my iPod blasting anything non-violin.

As a teacher, I'm more than happy to blather on and on and be the go-to source when someone asks advice on a music-related matter.

As a parent, I roll my eyes inwardly at my know-it-all teacher self, and think how much easier it is to have all the answers when you're not the one practicing with the headstrong nine year old at seven in the morning.

As a teacher, I look for ways to push my student beyond what they think they are capable of, and try to provide them with exciting and worthwhile music.

As a parent, the exciting, worthwhile, beyond-what-we-think-we're-capable-of piece is alternately inspiring my daughter and giving me nightmares.  It's the hardest thing she's ever played and we've had just a little over a month to learn it.  And yes, they're learning the choreography too.  (Take a look- it's pretty darn amazing.)

As a teacher, I get pretty excited when I see a student perform well.

As a parent, I still get tears in my eyes when Abby performs.  And I remind myself that yes, it is worth it.


  1. I'm definitely a much different "piano parent" than I was piano teacher. I finally sent my Dallin to my sister-in-law, who said, "Just let this be between me and him." And I am, and it's working out SO well. I stay out of his practicing. (Which as a teacher, I thought was just as awful way for a parent to be...) I do give him hints and tips every now and then, but I do not stand over him. I don't know how you do it as a Suzuki mom. Maybe it's because we're homeschooling and I'm standing over him for much of the rest of the day, I cannot do it for piano too. Or maybe it's because his intimidation, his knowing that music was "mom's thing" got in the way for us. But my benign neglect when it comes to his piano practicing is the best thing that ever happened for him and for me. I never thought I would say that!

  2. I can't speak much on this topic because I'm not a music teacher, but my boys are in piano lessons, and while I'm pretty knowledgeable about music and piano, I tend to stay out of my boys' way when it comes to practicing. If they don't practice, they will be the ones who have to repeat the same lessons over the next week, not me and it becomes their problem. Sure, I remind them and do as much as the teacher wants me to do with helping with their theory and making sure they get it done, but when it comes down to it, if they succeed, it will be up to them. But I don't think we have as much at stake, my kids are only in piano lessons because I think knowing how to read and understand music is a useful skill to have, not because they are prodigies or even particularly talented in it.

  3. I'm glad I'm not the only one, Stace! I'm assuming I was part of the inspiration for this post... :)
    That was such a fantastic number. Good luck to you and Abby learning it! Is it a McLean piece?

  4. I used to think that not knowing anything about violin was a BAD thing when it came to my kid's practicing. But I figure, we have two choices: She can practice, or she can not practice. When she practices, it can only be a good step. When she plays flat, I wince, but from the other side of the room. Like Lisa, I'm very much hands-on in several aspects of their lives, but I leave the mysterious workings of the violin to the professionals. And the kid who plays flat.


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