When to switch to traditional teaching from Suzuki and apply for conservatory?
So as I am not a violinist I would like to hear different views on this question that we now face with my daughter.
So she just started book 4 and it doesnt seem to be difficult for her, has played for 3 years and just turned 6. Our very good teacher asked me last lesson do I have any plans on trying to move her to a conservatory. She didnt say it clearly but I understood that conservatory would be good for her, but when to switch that is the question. Now or wait for a year of two (I understood that she should move at the latest when she turns 8)
The Suzuki teacher has qualifications up to book 10 and is conservatory taught. And my daughter has now access to a non-suzuki-orchestra in which all the others are older that she is, mostly considerably older, but she loves the orchestra and though the players are not so good technically, it has a good ambience and it is fun.
She played both book 2 and book 3 in a year but has (someone might remember) problems in memorizing but is a good music reader. Technically she is quite good, has vibrato and can do positions ( at least position 3 plus flute sounds) and has almost a perfect pitch with violin. She doesnt paly i group classes of Suzuki any more as there really is no point in them for her as she is so different from the others (playes better, but is bad at memorizing all the pieces at the same time)
However she is not advanced psychologically over her age, has a short attentio span, doesnt like practising so much and generally goofs around just like most of the kids her age. So she is not a prodigy, just a talented normal kid.
We live in a medium sized city and the conservatory in question is not the best in the country, just that most of the talented violinists here do study there. We have been in their concerts and there is an air of conpetition there that is absent from the music school she is now in. And I ve gathered that they have some leading problems there, so I have no idea how stressed the teachers there are at the moment.
So its a leap to the unknown, she is probably now so advanced in comparison that they would take her, but I have no idea, what kind of teacher she would get, because the teachers there have probably a pecking order in which they choose the students.
Suzuki is also nice as there are records and its easy to find other perfonmances in youtube. I also like to be involved and do not especially like the traditional way of starting kids with violin. But she is not a beginner any more, so would she benefit from a traditional teaching system done surrounded with kids that are as talented as she is and even better.
So, what would you do, continue with suzuki with a very nice teacher that my kid likes or switch to the conservatory now or 1 or 2 years later? If she continues with Suzuki and continues to progress in the same pace, then she might reach book 6 at the age of 7. The thing is who can say, but that is the fastest progress scenario for her.
In clnservatory whe would get 2 lessons of 30 mins next term and then afterwards one 45 monute lesson. In suzuki we would clntinue with 1 lesson of 30 minutes untill after one year.
My sense upon reading your post is that things are going pretty well as they are. The student is making good progress and has only one "issue" (memorization) which is a little surprising for a young child but probably of no lasting concern.
I always had memory issues, but I would have survived a conservatoire. People weren't expected to memorise unless they could. Reading music was the norm.
It would worry me that her teacher is talking about her transitioning to another teacher. Do you know if that is because the teacher is starting to feel that your daughter is moving beyond the level she teaches best?
Thanks you for the replies :)
Changing teachers is certainly something to consider - but I think age 6 is probably too young. Also, I think she should be further along than book 4 when the move is made, and comfortable as a sight reader. Also, I think it should be kept as fun for her as long as possible - the "conservatory" experience may kill the fun (it did for me when I was in the "kid program at the Manhattan School of Music). However, a different learning approach than Suzuki might be good for her following book 4.
I would set a time with the teacher to talk about transitioning your daughter--when would be the ideal time? What might your daughter miss if you don't transition her to the conservatory soon? What should she have accomplished beforehand? How can she (the current teacher) prepare your daughter for the transition?
Age, maturity, engagement, enjoyment, progress, learning to play properly -- these are all more important factors in your decision than what "book" she's in. A lot of teachers continue through Book 6 or 7 because it's convenient and frankly there's a lot of really good and wholesome (instructional) music in there. But after Book 4 there probably needs to be some supplementing with other material including other rep as well as scales and studies. So a good thing to watch out for is whether the present teacher is doing that. But again, it sounds to me like things are going pretty darned well already. Maybe memorization will start to click when public school starts and her attention span improves. Also remember to be listening to the pieces a LOT. Encourage the fun side as long as you can -- on this point I agree with Andy Victor -- because if you are in this for the long haul, there will be some dark times too.
Thank you very much. Victor nailed it with the question about not killing the fun.
It sounds like what you call "conservatory" is probably what people in the US would call a "pre-conservatory" program; US conservatories (which are normally postsecondary level) would probably call this their "pre-college program".
For me the critical point was when you said that she is not self motivated and does not like to practise. I think it might be a disaster to move her into a competitive environment until it is clear that learning the violin is something she really wants to do, rather than just something she is good at. I was outstanding at debating and my parents wondered if I should pursue law. Thank goodness that did not happen as it would have been a disaster.
I would wait until your daughter is motivated and wants to make the change herself. Having gone through Suzuki with two kids, one very motivated and the other not, it is usually pretty clear by age 8 what direction they want to go. If the motivation isn't there right now (which doesn't mean it will never be), pushing the child into a competitive program will only lead to burnout.
Thanks for further replies.