General Information

Getting Started

Music is like learning a language -- it is a long-term commitment for both the child and parent. It requires small steps, constant repetition, encouragement and daily practice. Dr. Suzuki philosophy (which he called the Mother-Tongue Method) and his Suzuki Method is built on the foundation that "Every Child Can©" learn music if taught in the right environment.

Practicing must be incorporated into the child's
daily routine, just like eating meals, doing homework or bathing. Dr. Suzuki used to say "Only practice on the days you eat." Musicians rely on "muscle memory" -- training the muscles (the ones in our body as well as our brain) to learn new skills. We are essentially like athletes; we must condition daily or else we lose what we gained that week and have to start all over. It requires time, discipline, motivation and the proper mindset to be a Suzuki™ parent and student.

Parent Education

Parents play a vital role in the child's music education, especially when the child is young. Dr. Suzuki believed that music instruction forms a triangle between the student, parent and teacher. If one is off-balance - either from lack of communication or support - the triangle is no longer stable.

At home, the parent is the "home teacher". He or she must play an active role as the helper while maintaining a nurturing environment for the child. I require parents of young students to read the following books to better understand the philosophy of the Suzuki Method and to know how to practice effectively with the child. It is essential that the parent/guardian also follow and comprehend what is going on in lessons, so note-taking is a must. For the child to succeed, the parent must also understand. I encourage parents to videotape or take photos to help remember what occurred during lessons. Some parents rent a violin and take lessons concurrently with the child to practice together and inspire the child, but this is optional.

I require all parents to read the following books before beginning lessons:

nurtured by love
Nurtured by Love (Revised Edition) by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki
KINDLE VERSION: Nurtured by Love

Ability Development from Age Zero by Shinichi Suzuki
Ability Development from Age Zero

Please visit the Recommended Books page for other great titles.

For the Younger Beginner (age 3-5)

Every child is different, so while one 3 yr old may be ready to start, another 3 year old is not, so I must meet the child to determine if he or she is ready to learn. Many teachers follow these minimum guidelines:

I am not too concerned about the age of the child, but I do consider maturity. I need the parent to be involved and committed. In the Suzuki Method, you cannot just drop off your child and be disengaged from the lesson.
I require that the child have an attention span of at least 10-15 minutes in a lesson and meet the above requirements. The minimum lesson is 30 minutes, but the majority of the time will be used to educate the parent on how to practice with the child at home.

A Few Tips

I highly recommend enrolling in Kindermusik™ or Music Together© for young children, classes available for ages newborn, toddler up to age 7. Both programs are offered here in Honolulu.

Purchase the Suzuki™ Violin CD Volume 1, as well other other classical violin CDs, and even other volumes of the Suzuki Violin CDs if you like. It is essential that your child get used to hearing the good tone of the instrument. Listen to the CD actively (with the intent to listen) and passively (in the background, while doing other things).

You might have the child try the FOAM violin first. Younger students ages 2 and 3 are better off starting with a foam violin (see "Foam-A-Lin" ™ below) and fake wooden bow for the beginning stages of violin lessons. Children tend to drop, throw and bend the fake violin and treat the bow like a sword or cane. I often use the foam violin to learn basic posture and respect for the instrument before using a real one.

For the Foam-a-lin™ sizing: If your child is age 2-3, get the 1/32 size. If age 4-5, get the 1/16 size. If age 5-6 get the 1/10, If age 7-8, get the 1/8, and if age 8 and up get 1/4. Please understand that every child is different in size so this is just an estimate, but it is always best to go smaller if you are not sure.

A word of advice: if your child has an older sibling who already plays, he or she will NOT be interested in the fake violin. You won't be able to fool them for very long!

Please also check the Required Materials for Lessons page for additional notes.

A more detailed explanation on the training violins:

The  Foam Violin or Cardboard Box Violin. I personally like the foam violin better, since they come in different sizes and don't break/tear like the cardboard one. The cardboard is fun because you can fill it with candy or a toy before you put it together, and when they "graduate" to their real instrument, the child gets to open the cardboard box to find their prize!
Another idea for a training violin is to make it yourself: take a crackerjack box, tissue box or mini-size cereal box with the food still inside, tape a ruler to it and then wrap 4 large rubber around it for strings. You can get a dowel stick from a hardware store and cut it so that it's about the child's arm's length. When the child is ready to move up to the real violin, he or she can open up the violin box and eat the treats.