Blog Post by McKenzie Clawson
There are as many styles of parenting as there are parents. The style I’ve been trying to cultivate is loving and positive, allowing lots of time for free, creative, childlike play. I’m also a Suzuki parent.
For many, the words “Suzuki parent” are nearly synonymous with the stereotype of a “Tiger mom.” They may imagine an intense, demanding mother, arms folded, as she frowns at her crying child. It doesn’t have to be that way. My daughter is starting Suzuki lessons because of my belief in the importance of childhood, positivity, and a loving environment, not despite it. I am not looking to create a serious tiny adult playing Mozart. I am looking to teach joy of music in a safe, loving, positive environment.
I wanted to share with you, why Suzuki music lessons are a great option for our family.
1. “An unlimited amount of ability can develop when parent and child are having fun.” -Shinichi Suzuki
I love that in Suzuki lessons, the teacher trains the parent as the home teacher. A child can learn in a familiar environment, her home. The parent can use what they know about their child to shape the practice session, speaking their child’s love language in the way they know best. Suzuki lessons can strengthen, instead of break down, a parent-child relationship.
2. Group Lessons: learning through play.
We all know that children learn the best when they are playing. The Suzuki focus on group lessons allows children to play together in a musical environment. Music making doesn’t have to be lonely!
3. “First character, then ability.” -Shinichi Suzuki
Shinichi Suzuki believed that teaching a beautiful heart was the predecessor to teaching beautiful tone. Suzuki teachers model love and compassion and teach their students to show respect to their teachers, parents, and fellow young musicians.
4. “We all have unlimited shortcomings. Yet one way of seeing things is to consider our lives as a time frame that allows us continually to work at changing our weaknesses into strengths. This, I must say, is an intriguing task.” -Shinichi Suzuki
Fundamental to the Suzuki philosophy is the idea that talent is taught and developed, not something present at birth. Suzuki lessons are focused on identifying weaknesses and strengthening them. Thus, when a Suzuki child is not performing at a high level, they don’t need to be berated. They need to be taught. This focus on learning talent teaches a growth mindset I so want for my child.
I decided to start my child in Suzuki lessons now, instead of waiting until she’s older, because of her tendency towards perfectionism. It’s something that my husband and I had been noticing for a long time, and it was getting worse. She was afraid to try new things. She was afraid to do things wrong. I wanted her to learn how to fail and try again, before it became a problem at school.
After a few months of “Pre-Twinkle” activities, I heard her chatting with a repairman at our house. “I play the violin. I don’t have a real one yet. Sometimes it’s really hard, but you just have to keep trying. Did you know that you just need to keep going when you can’t do something? You have to practice. I practice all the time.”
I’m not doing this so my child can be a musical prodigy. I am doing this because I want her to have a beautiful heart and a strong mind. I am doing this for us, for our relationship, not so someone can praise me for having a talented child. It’s all about her.
Why are you a Suzuki parent or teacher? Please share in the comments.