I was recently hired at a well-known music studio in my area, mostly by chance (I didn't think they'd be interested in me). They mainly teach Suzuki, and although I grew up learning through the Suzuki method from age 8-11, I am not certified and not very familiar with the exact methodologies and therefore don't have a lot of pedagogical knowledge.
My new boss (who teaches Suzuki guitar and is a guitar virtuoso) is very supportive of me learning as I go, and even offered to pay for half of my Suzuki tuition if he sees good progress and commitment (I was already planning on getting certified in the future)
So, to aid in my learning, what are some activities, tips, and tricks that you Suzuki people use in your instruction? What ideas do you have to teach rhythm notation before going to the staff, and how would you write Mississippi Hot Dog and the like in a way that is readable without being standard notation? My youngest private student (who is my own, not part of the program) is 8. I don't have any experience teaching very young ones, so help with that would be amazing!
He wants me to put together a curriculum and the first ten lessons of a new beginner. I figure a Year One Curriculum would suffice for now. What would a typical student learn in a year? I designated this curriculum for ages 7-10.
Any online resources you have would be more than helpful. I've done some searching, but haven't found much.
Thank you SO much!!
"What would a typical student learn in a year?" (7-10 yo)
I think you really need to take actual Suzuki training. There is no replacement for it. You should be able to find an Every Child Can class not too far away. These are usually only a day and will give you so much of the background. https://suzukiassociation.org/events/course/ecc/ Read Nurtured by Love. And then take a Book 1 class this summer. I would also suggest observing lessons and group classes at the very best Suzuki program in your area -- most teachers are very willing to allow observers.
I would love to take Suzuki courses, and I want to this summer (it's just $$$$). However, my boss said that he is alright with me not being certified yet because they have a long line of prospective students, and hardly any applicants. He says he sees a lot of potential and good motivation in me. It's also a job I can't pass up, even though I may be a bit under-qualified. It pays very well for part-time and the environment is superb. All the other teachers have Master's degrees in performance (mine will be in education). I have been observing other classes they provide like the beginning guitar class and an early childhood general music class.
Barbara Barber's beginning scale book is very very good. So is Hrimaly which you can get on IMSLP. It's good to have an idea what your clients' budgets are like for extras. Many lay people are just not calibrated to how expensive music education is, and you have to ease them into it.
Suzuki teachers don't get certified. They just get training.
I'm just going by what I've seen in my teacher's studio. Kristen said 7-10 years old. If she said 4-5, my answer would have been different. But I do agree with Lydia that it does depend on how solidly you lay the foundation -- and how well you teach!! My teacher is exceptionally good with little kids and they make good progress under his tutelage. Having 25+ years of experience is definitely to his advantage.
Thanks, guys. I agree that I am in no place to play the Mozart. I tried... It was terrible! I would definitely be uncomfortable teaching past book 4, so I hope he hires more advanced people so I can just have the little ones.
"I'm debating giving them photocopies so they don't have to buy it, but I'm not sure if that's legal."
I agree strongly with Paul.
Lydia said that SAA does not "certify" teachers. That may be true, but I think if I enrolled in a $600 training course, I'd want some documentation that I had attended and completed the course. I'd be surprised if that's not provided. If you don't get it, ask for it.
I second, third, etc. the suggestion of training and observations. Suzuki is much more than the pieces, playing by ear, and teaching young children (although it does include all of these).
Beginners don't need scale books. Unless you want to discourage them...
Kristen, Here are some ideas for you that I came up with when teaching a first grade Suzuki-based class:
Also, look into
I agree with all the preceding comments about observing lessons and getting the Suzuki training. It is really a shame you can't do this before starting to teach in this studio.
Yeah, you're going to find that getting through 1.5 Suzuki books in a year with solid foundation certainly isn't "typical.". But it does really depend on the type of students that the school attracts. It's rarely the ability if the student that limits this speed, but rather their unwillingness to practice in a high quality way at home, and usually their parent's unwillingness to help.
"Suzuki" is a philosophy which goes beyond learning the mechanics of playing an instrument, and I think one would be doing a disservice to the parents and children adopting that name without a full grounding in what it means and what are the generally prescribed practices in it. This is not to say that the mechanics of playing violin are unimportant - they are absolutely critical to successful playing; however, Suzuki has an additional view on it which is also to be respected when adopting the name.
It's not strictly "Suzuki" but the book I use before and alongside book 1 is the Blue Book of Violin Tunes by Bonnie Greene, published by One World Strings. It's not super common and I don't know if you can gt it from SHAR or the like, but it is a really good resource alongside Suzuki with opportunities to ground in notation as well. Has some scales written in, has several early songs in letter names as well as notes, has flashcards. If you are not Suzuki-trained (even if you are but prefer teaching notation side by side with your age range) and especially if you're newer to teaching beginners, I would strongly suggest using a resource like this. Suzuki can be lovely but without the training or some experience working with it, the book doesn't give a new teacher much to go on as far as *what* to teach with and for each tune.
For little ones, I also recommend Step by Step: An Introduction to Successful Practice for Violin (Book & CD) by Kerstin Wartber. These books go along with the Suzuki books. And for starting note reading and theory skills, all the Avsharian books are awesome.
I met with my boss again today to play through some stuff, to get to know the other staff, and to get a game plan. I wrote the curriculum based on a bit of research and my own prior knowledge, and he said he loved it. I told him my concerns about not being a virtuoso by any means, and having that ten year gap in instruction (which, by the way, you guys make it seem like I'm a really poor violinist, and that's not what I came here for... Just saying. I know my limits.), and he said he is more interested in my pedagogical knowledge and teaching ability. Many of the best performers are terrible teachers.
Also, Laurie, thank you! You are truly helpful!
There is no Suzuki certification. Otherwise, everyone would be teaching the very same thing, the very same way. As Dr. Suzuki said, you're not teaching the Suzuki method, you are teaching the (insert you or your teachers name) Jim/Suzuki Method. When you complete the training in Every Child Can (ECC) or individual books (or optional areas like "Sonatas"), the training documentation is submitted to the SAA, and they register your training. Our family didn't go on vacations for years, because "our vacation" WAS going to Suzuki institutes (primarily Stevens Point WI). Sometimes we'd go biking for an extra week while there (the Elroy-Sparta bike trail was a favorite). Our teaching got re-inspired, and our children loved the experience too--it charged their "playing batteries" until the next summer, and it was where Craig Timmerman inspired our children to the 100 days of practice, and it grew to years)! And I'd love to reiterate some important points from above. Get Suzuki training! It is the best investment you can make in your teaching, AND your students learning! If you don't get training, it's like taking your car for repair to the guy who fixes your lawnmower. Yes, both use an internal combustion engine, but the differences are huge. Yes, any musician can teach using a Suzuki book, but won't know anything about the "why something is in there". Huge teaching points will be ignored or simply glossed over because you don't recognize the road signs. And please don't photocopy music for your students. Aside from the obvious copyright infringement, you are doing NO service to your student(s) by giving them photocopies that will deteriorate in a few years, or get lost the next week...And it will also never end, because they will always expect you to supply photocopies for them.
I'm not gonna photocopy... I was merely thinking out loud, please relax, everybody. I've said I'm planning on getting training. I don't have disposable income to drop that much money right now. It'll happen in time.
Paul, SAA does "registration" of courses. So you can look up a Suzuki teacher on the SAA website, and it will show you which courses they have taken. That merely indicates that they attended all the classroom and observation hours for the course, as a participant. (There is an audit option for teachers who do not pass the audition, but that does not result in course registration.)
Lydia yes that's what I had in mind. That would be good enough for Kristen.
I know what I need to do, thanks a ton. I won't have money for the summer, or possibly fall. It'll have to wait. In the meantime I'll learn through immersion, coaching from my colleagues, and research.
Something in Kristen's original post made me curious:
What I would like to say is, dont turn into all-Suzuki-nothing-else-teacher. And remember that not all students are the same and be prepaired to adapt Suzuki to the students. Suzuki is a very good starting method but it should be adapted according to the students needs and capabilities if you want to teach all the students with the love that is also a great principle in the Suzuki method.
Lydia frankly I really only see semantic difference between "registration" of one's training and "certification." But I'm not quibbling. I realize that "certification" might carry different connotations.
He wanted the first ten lessons to get a feel for my lesson planning skills.
For a beginning scale book, I highly recommend the book "Fiddle Time Scales" it has all of the basic first position major and minor scales and major/minor arpeggios, plus short, fun pieces in each key (including some pieces encouraging composition/improvisaton). I have been using it with my students starting somewhere between mid book 1 and early book 2 (depending on age and reading proficiency) and so far they all absolutely love it. The Barber "Scales for Young Violinists" is a fantastic book, but it is more for two octave scales (including shifting) and and wouldn't start this until at least late book 2 (I do usually start shifting in either book 2 or book 3 (again depending on age and other factors).
"How many teachers have a curriculum for new beginners? The notion of putting together what goes into the first ten lessons seems odd to me." (Lydia)
Mengwei, I suspect it's not so much "performance degree" as Kirsten is basically an early-intermediate violinist herself (studied violin to book 6 level, and notes that book 7 material would take "real work"). That's a pretty big challenge. Someone at that level can teach beginners assuming that they have a good set-up themselves and a good understanding of basic technique. Some parents might be understandably wary about sending their kids to someone who plays at that level, though.
Lydia is exactly right.
Mengwei wrote, "There is no 'pure Suzuki' because the man is gone; everyone following takes his ideas and infuses them with their own."
Dorothy DeLay could not play better than her best students (Itzhak Perlman, + very long list). Being "better than your best students" is not actually a requirement. That said, DD did achieve a high level of playing and had arguably the best mentor around, when it came to teaching. And yet she still did it her own way.
I haven't read the entire thread, so perhaps I've missed some kind of vital information, but in my opinion, someone who isn't a strong violinist AND who does not have any training in violin pedagogy is setting up their students to fail. I think that it is pretty unethical to position yourself as a violin teacher when you don't know what you are doing. The fact that this "school" is so willing to cut corners reflects extremely poorly on the "school" and on their priorities (making a buck off people's ignorance?), but you can be the better person here.
If I recall correctly, Kristen is getting a master's in music education, so presumably she has had some instruction in pedagogy, even if it hasn't been violin-specific.
It seems like that trajectory would better prepare someone to be a highschool band or orchestra director. I'm not saying there aren't plenty of unqualified people out there already taking people's money, but I disagree with it.
Dorothy Delay and Ivan Galamian were not known to be great players during the bulk of their teaching careers but they had both achieved a high level earlier on, and they both had an enormous depth and breadth of technical knowledge and understanding at their command.
Mary Ellen, I guess I'm saying that we need to encourage new teachers, and telling them they can't teach until they've taught is possibly rather discouraging and even counterproductive. I taught my first students while I was still in high school, and I'm glad I had that experience. I'll add that I think I taught them pretty well, even though I definitely have a lot more to offer now, after 30 years of experience, a degree in music, pedagogy training, etc.! Teachers in my Suzuki group encourage their older and more advanced students to help out our group, to teach their own students in the summer, to get started teaching. We encourage them to take pedagogy classes as well. But sometimes getting experience teaching means teaching for new programs, trying things new ways, developing your own curriculum based on what you know, etc. It's actually a rather messy path, as all true learning is!
The OP asks for help with finding online resources to help her pursue her goal of becoming a better Suzuki teacher and the thread devolves into a discussion of her suitability to teach absolute beginners using words like “unethical” to characterize her ambition. Really!! This is so wrong on so many levels!
James, the "devolving" mostly happened after Kristen basically said she had what she needed and was bowing out of the thread. Prior to that, much of the thread was emphasizing the importance of formal violin pedagogical training (i.e., Suzuki teacher training), which the OP says she cannot afford right now. I did say, in my initial post, that the OP shouldn't try to teach at levels approaching her own playing skill. I had in mind "not past Book 4" but I bit my tongue. Later Mary Ellen wrote exactly that, which made me feel smart for about 3 seconds.
As I understand it, the way that Suzuki teacher auditions are set up already reflects the reality and dichotomy of student needs versus potential teacher supply.
At no point did I say that I thought the OP should not be teaching. I suggested what I thought (and still think) is a reasonable upper bound on her teaching given what we know about her current level. This can and should be a moving target as she gets more training.
"This can and should be a moving target as she gets more training." It just occurred to me, not sure why, that the OP would benefit not only from continued training in pedagogy, but also from having lessons herself and practicing 2-3 hours a day to bring her own skills beyond Book 7. Mastering the first movement of the Bach A Minor with the purpose of meeting the 2nd-tier Suzuki audition would be a worthy initial goal.
Perhaps I'm projecting because in my early teaching life, I had frequent bouts of doubt about being under-qualified, was I a fraud, maybe I should have stayed in my previous career, etc. "Book 7 would take some real work" is something I could have said, and from her other remarks, I interpret that Kristen has/desires high expectations. (Sure, my Bach Am passed the intermediate audition, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't have wanted it to be better or that it wouldn't take work.)
A kid at age 4 spending 2 years in book 1 isn't extraordinary (and maybe with a super-wiggly inattentive slow-learning 4-year-old, you spend a year on Pre-Twinkle plus two years on book 1). But I'd really wonder what the heck is going on when a 7 year old is taking 3 to 4 years to get through book 1.
My teacher has a group class every other Saturday morning for his studio. Students are required to attend (and yes they pay extra for it) until they are good enough to join the Chamber Orchestra (around Suzuki Book 5-6 level). This is an extremely good thing for the kids because they learn to listen, learn to "share the sound," and they see whether they are ahead or behind their peers.
I want to clarify my comment that a teacher should be able to play (hopefully much) better than his/her best student, since Laurie pushed back on it.
Lydia - I just meant I can't get hired at a school that advertises degreed faculty and had gone the private studio route instead. I had a non Suzuki teacher after book 6, then left off at Kabalevsky before college, never even got into the standard repertoire, other than messing around. Focusing on taking my adult playing to the next level (as opposed to being on maintenance mode or declining) hasn't been a priority for various reasons and non audition community orchestra is all I can handle right now.
"15-20 min/day x 2-3 days/week" is the working definition of a low-priority activity.
I have a concern about some of the content of this thread - which says that it's OK for shall we say not highly accomplished teachers to teach younger children and less advanced players, and more accomplishment is required to teach the more accomplished students. The flaw in this reasoning in my view is that at the elementary levels the basics are important, and it might be that the teacher is not highly accomplished because of flaws in their own basics. I think that's true for me - that I would be able to advance further was I not being held back by my own errors or issues with the basics, which to some extent I have to relearn to progress.
My expectation is that someone who is qualified to teach elementary level players is playing with correct technique themselves. I'm fine with a De Beriot #9 level player teaching up through about Suzuki book 3 or 4 *if and only if* that player could play De Beriot #9 in tune and at tempo with a good sound using correct technique (assuming the violinist in question also has good pedagogical skills). If they struggled with the De Beriot, then I would suggest that their true playing level is somewhat lower.
For comparison, De Beriot #9 (A Minor) appears at RCM grade 9. The Bach A minor (Suzuki book 7) appears at RCM grade 8, and the Mozart D Major K.218 (Suzuki book 10) appears at RCM grade 10, so on that basis, a rough correspondence of De Beriot #9 is with Suzuki level 9.
Suzuki book 9 is Mozart 5 and Suzuki book 10 is Mozart 4.
I am known in my community as a jazz pianist. I have one student. He is learning all kinds of stuff -- some theory, how to dress up "easy piano" arrangements of pop tunes, some improvisation, etc. On the surface, anyone would have said that he
I have never understood why the Suzuki books teach the Mozart concertos in reverse order (5, 4, 3) when the order of difficulty is actually (3, 4, 5).
This thread has made me feel like I really need to learn de beriot #9.
EVERYONE should learn De Beriot #9. haha
Suzuki does not contain Mozart 3, by the way.
I don't know why concertos can't be revisited when a student has matured considerably. Granted, one does not assign Mozart 3 to a student in Book 5. But the idea of waiting to learn something until you can play it like Heifetz after 3 weeks of practice seems a little counterproductive too. I think if you've done Bach A Minor, a few Handel Sonatas, Accolay, and Haydn G Major, then you ought to be able to deal with the first movement of Mozart 3.
De Beriot #9 sounds hard but it is just not that hard for the student who is ready and the teacher who knows how to teach it. It is the most teachable of technique. For that matter, the Franko cadenza contains harder technique than De Beriot.
The last two pieces I performed at student recitals many, many years ago were 1st movement of Mozart 5 with cadenza, and 1st movement of Lalo SE. The Lalo ended up sounding a whole lot better than my Mozart. You need spot-on perfect intonation and excellent bowing for the Mozart, which I did not have. I'm not sure what my teacher intended--the Lalo was the first (and last) romantic "concerto" he'd ever given me. What a relief! (after confidence-crushing Mozart)
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