Friday, November 18, 2011

Am I Creating Desire

Am I fun to practice with? Do I willingly spend the time to create a successful practice? Do I enjoy practicing with my child? Would I enjoy practicing with someone like me? How many ways can I think of to have fun at the piano with my child?

Are my words sweet? Do I pay more attention to what is going right or what is going wrong? Am I kind and respectful in my comments to my child? Am I courteous and understanding? Are my expectations realistic? How many ways can I think of to notice the good things my child does?

Am I fun to be around? Am I mostly positive or negative? Am I calm and Patient or do I have a temper and a nasty disposition? Do I make my child feel good about their effort? Would my child go out of his way to be with me? How many ways can I think of to encourage my child?

Do I place a High Priority on music study? Does piano practice tend to be last on my list? If there is a soccer game at the same time as a piano recital will I choose soccer (baseball, basketball, etc.) over piano? Can my children tell by my attitude how much I value music education? Do I find it easy to skip lessons, arrive late, leave early? Am I committed to daily practice and daily listening or do we try to fit it in when we have time? How many ways can I find to show my children that I value the richness music brings to our lives?

Does my child have a voice? Do I let him make appropriate choices about his music study? What time shall we practice? Which piece shall we study first? How many repetitions will make this part beautiful? Do you think this part should be loud or soft? How many ways can I find to give my child choices?

Do I help my child to own the music? Do I invite my child to evaluate? Do I encourage my child to develop independence? Do I notice that he can do some things well on his own? Do I allow him to explore? How many ways can I find to help my child to develop independence and ownership for his musical ability?

Do I understand the magic of listening? Do I understand what listening to the CD has to do with learning the music? Am I consistent about keeping the CD playing or am I content with listening once in a while? When the music is in the way do I turn it off or turn in down? Do I have a CD playing in several parts of the house? Do I play the CD in the car? Am I playing the CD for the next book? Do I know how to program my CD player to repeat? How many times and places can I use to create listening opportunities?

Do I structure the practice to help my child be successful? Do I follow the teacher’s instructions? Do we refer to the teacher’s notes, do the requested number of repetitions, check the fingering, and enjoy the improvement we see each day? Do we keep a record of our practice? Do we try out practice tips we have learned from our teacher or other parents? Do I expect my child to be accountable for his effort? Am I willing to be accountable doing my part to make the practice successful? How many ways can I find to create successful practicing opportunities?

Have I created a musical environment? Do I love music? Do I love the benefits that come from music study? Do I find music an enriching and rewarding part of my life? Do I enjoy sharing this gift with my child? Do we love new CDs, going to concerts, performing, learning new songs? How many ways can I find to enjoy music with my child?

Linda Garner

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Recital Etiquette

Dear Suzuki Parents,

As Suzuki piano teachers, we admire Suzuki parents. They are dedicated and hard working. Parenting a Suzuki child is a big commitment. The benefits are huge, but the work is a little daunting. Congratulations on the work that you do and the effort you put into Suzuki Parenting.

Teachers prepare carefully for each recital in their studios, helping each student to play at a high level in order that they will have a good experience. We also teach the students about recital etiquette and ask them to be respectful of other performers. We ask them to dress in their best clothes and to come early so that they can do their best. We hope that they will have a respectful audience.

At the beginning of each recital, there is a speech about recital behavior. We ask the students to be team players. We ask them to be courteous listeners and to applaud their fellow performers. We also ask the audience to be courteous listeners. For the most part the Suzuki students are respectful of each other. They are usually quiet and attentive to the performers.

Not everyone in the audience is quiet and respectful, however. When a student misbehaves, we quickly correct the behavior. When a parent misbehaves, we have a difficult time addressing the behavior. It is awkward for us as teachers to confront a parent or visitor who is creating a distraction and ask them to be quiet. We would rather not do this. We would prefer that every person in the audience would commit on their own to be courteous and attentive.

It is puzzling that parents who have gone to great effort to prepare their student to perform can be discourteous and impolite when someone else’s child is performing. Most Suzuki parents understand what is being asked and do their best to support the performers by being quiet and gracious. Unfortunately there are a few who don’t seem to understand, and so we are writing to clarify our request to parents, grandparent, family and friends.

Hopefully, no one will be offended at these suggestions. Please don’t assume a finger is pointing at anyone. Give careful consideration to these ideas and ask yourself if you can improve your recital behavior. If you will be inviting friends or family to a recital, please share this letter with them.

1. Please be in your seats five minutes before the recital is to begin. If you need to get a drink or use the bathroom, do that first, so that you will not need to leave the recital. If you have children with you, please take them for drinks and bathroom needs before the recital and help them to be calm and quiet before the recital begins.

2. Performers should arrive 15 minutes before the recital is to begin, take care of drinks and bathroom needs, and find their seat in time to sit quietly before the announcements begin. This quiet time helps create a calm mind and body for a more perfect performance.

3. Give consideration to what you will be wearing to the recital. This is not a sporting event. Performers are dressed in their Sunday best. If you are dressed casually you may be tempted to behave in a casual manner. If you dress up a bit, you may feel a little more formal. Children notice the difference too; your clothing lets the child know how important the recital is to you. If they are dressed up, they may be easier to control.

4. There should be no talking during the recital. Please do not try to entertain a child by reading them a story, however quietly, or playing any sort of game with them. Show them by example that this is a quiet time. If you must communicate, please whisper. If your neighbors can hear you talking, you are talking too loud.

5. Cell phones should be turned off and put away. Handheld video games should not be brought to a recital.

6. If you have children with you, please help them to understand appropriate behavior during a formal performance. Talk with them before the recital about what is expected, and then help them to stay calm and quiet during the performance. You could practice this at home. If a child is noisy during the recital please take him/her out, and only return if the child is able to regain control. If a child is not able to be reasonably quiet during a recital, consider leaving him/her with a babysitter until he/she develops more self-control.

7. If it becomes necessary to leave the recital hall for any reason, please go between performers. The greeters will try to enforce this. Please work with them. Excessive leaving and re-entering even between performances is inappropriate. Please do not ask to arrive late or leave early. This is inappropriate, and such requests cannot be honored. If it is not possible for you to stay for the entire recital, please ask to be rescheduled for the next recital.

8. There should be no flash photography during the recital. Hand held video cameras are permitted if they are not distracting. Video cameras on tripods are permitted only in the back.

That was long, but really vital. Please give it careful thought. Parents set the tone for the recital. When the audience is noisy and casual in their attention, it is the students who pay the price. Help us to minimize stress and distraction. Consider the effort they have put into preparation and what distraction can do to their focus. Please do your part. Give them the audience they deserve.

Suzuki Piano Teachers
Salt Lake East Region

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fall Schedule

3:15 Ella
3:45 J.J.
4:30 Liam

3:00 Caden
4:00 Cassi
4:45 Kimi
5:30 Nicolas

3:30 Braden
4:30 Aaron

2:45 Zach
3:45 Austin
4:45 Tyler

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Best Reason to Practice

A true Story, told by Dr. Beth Cantrell, Nov 3, 1998

The Afternoon had been an ordinary teaching adventure. Then, late in the day I received a great gift of wisdom in a most touching way.

The student and his mother were already in my room when I returned from the school office where I teach;, chair and rug in place, cello and bow unpacked and ready to go.

"Okay," said mom, "time for cello, take your seat."

"The child dissolved into tears. "I don't want to play cello!" came the response.

"Yes, but it's your lesson time."

"I don't want to play cello!"

"We can talk about that after the lesson. Please sit down in your chair."

Oh, I thought, this is going to be a challenge. I cast about in my mind for what to do next, the boy clung more tightly to his mother, and the wailing grew louder. When mom finally offered to count to three, an offer he evidently couldn't refuse, the boy did sit down, but the sobbing continued.

As I sat on the floor in front of the little chair, smile frozen on my face, all the stories about such occurrences shared by colleagues, or in teacher training (what to do if...) flashed back through memory.

As the wailing continued, I frantically darted about mentally, failing to discover any sure fire tricks lying about unnoticed. At last, after an interminable 45 seconds or so, with an inward smile over this little one's woe, I excused him to blow his nose, which was now running copiously. After all, I thought, one can laugh or cry over this. It would be better if I didn't cry, too.

Whilst the youngster busied himself with his tissue, in a hushed and hurried exchange with the mother, we agreed that we wouldn't stop the lesson. The child returned, quiet at last, but dragging his feet. He looked at the two of us, then climbed into mom's lap.

"I don't want to play cello." Same song, next verse.

And then came a woundrous moment. Mom rocked the boy, and asked in a tender voice, "Do you think if you said you didn't want to go to school, I'd let you stay home?"

"No," came the snuffly response.

"Do you think if you didn't want to eat, I'd let you starve?"

"No." (sniff)

"Do you think if you wouldn't drink, I'd let you go thirsty?"


"Well, cello feeds you, too, in here (she tapped his chest gently). It feeds part of you that you can't see, your heart and your soul and your spirit. I won't let you go hungry and thirsty there, either."

As I sat in humble silence before this great truth, reflecting on how the boy's cello time had become my life lesson, he slid off his mother's lap. Smiling, he sat down in his chair and proceeded to have a delightful lesson.

The answer had satisfied him. He had learned the best reason to practice.

Monday, June 27, 2011


You've see this before. Your normally charming child has a meltdown in front of the teacher. I don't want to piano today. This is too hard. I'm tired.

Like you, I've heard it all, but I don't always no how what to do next.