Piano Lessons, Music for Special Occasions
"Keys" to Suzuki Success
At the Lesson
- At lessons, be a quiet observer. A child can only learn from one teacher at a time. Ask questions at the beginning or the end.
- Feel free to take notes if you need to.
- Video lessons, or parts of lessons, as well as your child’s home playing.
- Other children are welcome at lessons as long as they can remain quiet and not distracting.
- Try to arrive early or stay late and sit in on another student’s lesson, or part of one. It’s amazing what your child will pick up, and they can also play duets together.
- Play the recordings every day in the background. Get used to repetition. Children don’t mind it – it’s how they learn (unless others make negative comments). Make occasional positive comments such as “I hear the music getting softer right there.”
- Figure out which time of day works best for you – before school, after, or in the evening – or 2 or 3 short practices. Make a schedule, chart, or reminder. Try calling it “playing” instead of “practicing”. Or practice can fit in with doing homework, or you can say “After piano playing and homework, you may play or watch TV.” Let your child have a say in what time you practice together. For older students, a contract or agreement with them can work well.
- Use games such as Go Fish, Dice, etc. Keep it positive and fun. Go to the piano yourself and play their pieces.
- Ask, don’t tell: “What did Ms. Diane say you need to remember in part 2 of Lightly Row?” Don’t give answers, but help them figure things out.
- Practice in small steps repeatedly, then put the steps together.
- Please do not begin working on a piece until it’s assigned. There may be tricky spots which will need specific instructions.
- Be specific with praise – instead of “that was good”, say “you used the correct fingers” or “I liked your smooth phrasing”.
- Keep playing pieces previously learned (review pieces). Find fun ways to do this – duets, transposing, games, etc. One of the purposes of review pieces is to go back and learn a new technique with a familiar song.
- Stop the practice session if there is extreme frustration, attention span is waning, or child is becoming tired. Avoid power struggles. Better to return with joy tomorrow than to force a few extra minutes today.
- At practice, do the same things the teacher does at lessons. Techniques need to become natural and automatic.
- Let him make mistakes without comment. Musicians need to learn to play fluently through mistakes. If there is a recurring mistake, work on that section of the piece separately.
- Try to practice at least the new piece(s) or section(s) later the same day of the lesson.
- Keep the piano in tune, and seat and footstool at proper height.
- Try to attend all group classes and recitals, plus other community musical events. These are very motivational.
- Play other classical music in addition to Suzuki. Classical music is not often heard in today’s culture. There are classical radio stations such as WRTI 90.1 FM, internet stations, Pandora channels, etc. as well as on TV or Youtube videos.
- Have a home concert once a week for the “other” parent. Video and send to relatives.
- Please do not criticize, threaten, or punish children in relation to their music learning, or remind your child of the expense of lessons. Guilt does not produce motivation.
- Try to stay positive. If you feel burnout or your child begins losing interest, act quickly by asking your teacher for new ideas. Remember nothing works forever.