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How did I end up teaching the Suzuki method?

I didn’t learn the Suzuki method when I was young. As I was teaching, I wondered how to teach young children. One of my colleagues introduced it to me. Ever since I started, I fell in love with the philosophy behind it. Because Suzuki said that learning the violin is not only for the talented but for anyone that has a supportive, nurturing and loving environment. It is created where the parents and teachers work together with the child in mind, listening to the recordings daily and there are group classes when maybe they can see their friends play a more advanced song than them and are motivated by their peers.

I would like to share a story about a student who I taught about 5 years ago. He was in 3.5 year old at that time and a very expressive boy. When he wasn’t happy with receiving instructions, he would fold his arms and sit down. Or when he was asked to repeat a song to improve it and he didn’t want to do it, he would sometimes throw the violin on the floor. The mother was at her wits end and would buy him his favourite apple juice when he was well behaved and followed teacher’s instructions. She also vent her frustration at him when he was being difficult. After a while, she realised this wasn’t the solution to developing intrinsic motivation and the child’s learning attitude. After one year of teaching him, I prayed and hoped very hard he would take a break from lessons. But the father was insistent that he continue learning because his attitude was the same for any other lesson and it wasn’t about learning the violin per se.

In the second year of teaching this child, there were more issues to work on like ear training. He couldn’t tell the difference between a high or low note and was constantly playing out of tune. I thought to myself, “this child can’t go very far on the violin because playing the violin well requires sensitivity to pitch. There are no frets and one has to depend on their ears to play in tune.” It was a struggle, because even when I had put tapes on his violin, he couldn’t hear the difference between a note that was on the tape and not on the tape. So I asked the boy to use a tuner app and check every single note he was playing. Eventually, the mother could see the change that happened in her child due to a warm and positive environment in the lesson. She changed her attitude towards the child and realised that she needed to have more patience and used more positive affirmation when the child improved on his attitude or playing. She also changed her style of practising with her child from a carefree attitude to a more regimental style because she could see when I was being firm with the child, the child would follow instructions. The mother also remembered exactly what was being taught in class and made notes so she could remember how to practice with him at home. She rewarded him by giving him coins and during Christmas, he used the money he got and bought me a present. That was really sweet of him. This child took a transformative turn in his musical journey and he went on to do Suzuki graduation and joined his primary school string orchestra. From this story you could see every child’s potential is unlimited provided a nurturing and supportive environment is created at home and during the lesson.

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