So many of you have emailed to ask about how to teach your own children, and as I don’t have any experience in that arena, I am so excited to share with you this guest post by the lovely Ivy Goh. She emailed me sharing some of her experiences, and I was so inspired by her great tips on how to be your child’s Suzuki teacher AND parent. I asked her to write a post about all the wonderful things that she is doing with her son, and she very graciously agreed! Thank you, Ivy! I’ll let you take it away!
**Update: Ivy just sent me these adorable pictures of her beautiful boy. I love his happy smile as he plays his violin. Thanks, Ivy!
Guest Post by Ivy Goh
My first born, Aiden, has always shown a great interest in music: playing enthusiastically with his toy violin, recognizing some composers & works, identifying most, if not all, the instruments (both western and Chinese). So just as Aiden was approaching 3, we attended trial classes at music schools and bought him his very own violin: a 1/16. Probably not uncommon with other like-minded parents, except perhaps for me taking the Suzuki Violin Teacher Training course and eventually deciding to be a Suzuki Teacher and Parent!
Just about two months back, before we started lessons, Aiden had refused to let me correct his ad libitum violin-playing. Now, violin lessons are our bonding time that Aiden looks forward to, and he is finally learning how to play the violin.
Being a Suzuki teacher has made me a better Suzuki parent, and being a Suzuki parent has made me a better Suzuki Teacher.
The following has worked for us, stuff that I would be replicating for my younger baby Austen when he’s ready. I would love to hear what has worked for you too!
1. Animate the violin!
Dropping his violin, either accidentally or deliberately, as with his other toys, was one of our concerns beginning lessons. So before buying Aiden his very own violin, daddy and mummy made a deal with him. We told him that it’s not a toy and he has to take care of him (Aiden says it’s a boy) with great care. This includes practising (otherwise the violin would miss him) the way “Teacher Ivy” has taught him and only when mummy or daddy is around. Since we started lessons, Aiden has been practising his violin almost everyday. And he now greets his violin in his fourth language- German—which was introduced during violin lessons!
2. Role Play!
Knowing well that it’s not easy teaching one’s own child, we prepared him mentally that daddy would bring him to violin classes with “Teacher Ivy” and that mummy would see him after class. Our first lesson was a significant breakthrough. It was the first time Aiden allowed me (as Teacher Ivy) to teach him and now, he’s getting better at his bow holding. It helps that Aiden has always been fond of pretend play. Daddy would also remind him to address me as “Teacher Ivy” instead of mummy. After class, Aiden would pretend to phone his mummy! He sometimes would even tell “Teacher Ivy” that mummy’s at work.
3. Celebrate Small Steps!
There are times when I struggle to be patient. I have to consciously remind myself my boy is a toddler and why I’m teaching him the violin. Remembering to lower, and perhaps even eliminate, expectations helps. I’m very generous with my praises and stickers. After all, it is the bonding with my child(ren) that I treasure. After all, I want to enhance his love for music, and not destroy that. I want him to keep the joy of playing music. And these stickers work wonder for toddlers. They are like trophies to them- a strong motivation for practising!
4. Do Playdates!
I teach Aiden together with another toddler of his age, whom he enjoys having lessons with. We have also done family outings together—the night safari, open-air concerts, nature walks. I told them Teacher Ivy’s bringing the class out because you have been practising! Besides the bonding, such outings can spark the children’s imagination, which intertwine with their musicianship.
5. Attend Workshops!
One of the many benefits of being part of the Suzuki community is the access to seminars organized for both teachers and students. Aiden just attended his first workshop this June organized by the Suzuki Talent Education Association Singapore (STEAS), where I accompanied him as a Suzuki parent and teacher. Through interaction and learning with other teachers and students, the experience has inspired him to practise (more). I believe such platforms would enhance and reinforce our journey as a teacher, parent and student altogether.
6. Dual roles = dual perks!
The synergies of being both a Suzuki teacher and a Suzuki parent have been rewarding. As a Suzuki parent, by observing how my boy reacts and learns on a daily basis, I can better pre-empt and address the concerns my students’ parents might have and learning habits of my students. As a Suzuki teacher, I get to teach and reinforce what I want my child(ren) to achieve: developing musicianship, nurturing friendship and building character.
7. Have Faith!
To sum it up, have faith, in your child & in yourself! As Dr. Suzuki said, “where love is deep, much can be accomplished”. I think I should have this quote framed.
Image Credit: Ivy Goh
I’d love to know what is working for you, please share your tips and ideas in the comments!
About the Author
Ivy Goh is an investment manager by day. It was her 3-year-old boy that prompted her to resume teaching recently. Since then, Ivy Goh is always thinking of how to make practices and lessons fun. Her previous experiences as an orchestral player has enhanced her love for music and brought her to various countries. She now hopes to create such platforms for her children and students, aimed at nurturing hearts, friendship & musicianship.
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