I’ve been looking for a musical avenue for Annika since she has an aptitude for music and singing. When she was three, she was humming a song to herself. Then she tried singing the same song in different octaves – going higher and lower. She can listen to a song once and repeat the melody. Both of our families have an ability for music -- my husband and his family sing and my mother’s side sings, while I took after my father’s side for music appreciation. Therefore, the grandmothers and relatives have been pushing me, “You have to get her into music.”
My response was, “Can she turn 5 at least?”
I looked into piano lessons, which are expensive (average $30/half hour). Plus you eventually have to invest in a piano. At this age, who knows what the commitment level will be. When I read her public school offered Suzuki Violin with only violin rental fee, I jumped. I played viola in high school, so I should be in a better position to coach her than in piano, which I don’t play.
The key for success in Suzuki violin is for the parents to be the “home teachers.” Therefore, parents must attend all lessons for the first 2-3 years. The classes will be 12-12:30 on Mon and Thurs – perfect, I can go during lunch, I thought. I do not like to schedule any activities on weeknights.
After I signed up, I learned that the music teacher goes to two schools, so Monday’s it’s at Annika’s home school. On Thursdays, I have to cut out of weekly meeting early to pick up Annika from her school, drive to the other school, have the lesson, drop her to afternoon kindergarten school and return to work. Maybe one of us will eat lunch.
The Suzuki Method
The Suzuki method of learning music is much different than traditional music lessons. To give an analogy, children learn a language by listening, babbling, and then speaking. They begin with a few words and then can say sentences. They don’t learn to read until a few years after they’ve been speaking.
Suzuki method of musical instruction is the same way. Children will learn to listen and play music right now, and then learn to read music in 2nd grade. This way, their ears and memories are sharper and they learn discipline of practicing. We have a CD that is to be listened all the time so the music is drilled into their head.
Me and my Viola
I started playing the viola in 8th grade when we moved to NJ. I joined the district orchestra by 10th grade, but I had to play with younger students. I think I was good for where I was, but it was hard since other orchestra students had more experience. I think there was only 2-3 orchestra members from my high school (Band was huge!) so I missed having that comradery.
Anyway, once I turned in my viola as a high school senior, I have not touched an instrument. I often missed not having a musical creative outlet. I’ve exposed Annika to western classical music since she was young since she sleeps with music. Not because I believed in Mozart Effect or anything. It was really to adhere to a routine. She would hear certain songs and know it was time to sleep. Hopefully, she'll stay awake during violin!
Anyway, I flipped through Annika’s music book and I panicked a little. I could not remember how to read music! Couldn't remember the strings on the viola, which are slightly different from the violin. In class this week, Ms. Anderson reviewed the music and the strings. All of sudden, I felt as if a switch was turned on and it all started coming back to me, 20 years later! I could slowly recognize notes again.
I would love to hear from any other Suzuki parents that are out there.