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Frequently Asked Questions

Useful Information for Parents

Q: What is the Suzuki Method?

A: This method was developed in postwar Japan by the famous violin pedagogue, Shinichi Suzuki. Also called the 'Talent Education' method, it is based on the astonishingly simple idea that if a young child can learn to speak a language, then surely he or she can learn to play a musical instrument with the same level of mastery. Essential elements of the Suzuki method are the same as what parents everywhere spontaneously use in teaching their children to speak their native language. They include repeated listening to the music the child is to learn, mastery of skills through repetition and a nurturing environment to learn in. Daily listening to the recording is essential, whether it be in the car, on the MP3 player or in the background like elevator music.

Q: What is the Saskatoon Suzuki String Program?

A: The Saskatoon Suzuki String Program is a not-for-profit organization funded in part by the Saskatchewan Orchestral Association. It currently consists of seven teachers trained in the Suzuki Method. It has a program director and is run by an executive of parent volunteers and teachers. Every student takes a weekly private lesson from one of these teachers and a weekly group activity. More experienced students who read music have the opportunity to play in one of the three string orchestras in the program. Group activities are held at Walter Murray Collegiate (map).

Q:What musical instruments are taught in the Saskatoon Suzuki String Program?

A:Violin, viola and cello.

Q: Do Suzuki students learn how to read music?

A: Absolutely! We generally introduce music reading after the child has learned the basics of playing the instrument and when the child is old enough to tackle reading. Pre-reading skills are often introduced in group lessons.

Q: How much would I be involved in lessons and home practice as a parent?

A: At the private and group lessons, you would be taking notes at the lesson and following through on those notes in daily home practice with your child. In the first year, you would also be learning the instrument along with your child. In the first few years, you would be leading the daily practice sessions at home. You would also be making sure that your child hears the recording on a consistent basis. Although we can?t deny there will be ups and downs, this can be a rewarding way to spend quality time with your child. Your child will gradually become more independent in home practice and at private lessons over the years.

Q: Do I need to have musical training as a parent?

A: Musical ability in the parent is not necessary. It is helpful, however, if your household takes an active interest in music of artistic merit. Classical music is the basis of the Suzuki repertoire, and is enriching to anyone who listens to enough of it. There is plenty of other good music, including jazz, folk and other genres.

Q: What is a good starting age?

A: In our experience, four years old and up is a good starting age, or occasionally a mature and motivated 3 year old. Any younger, and we recommend a music and early childhood education program.

Q: How do I know if my child has any talent?

A: The beauty of the Suzuki Method is that talent can actually be formed in a young child in the right nurturing environment. As teachers we have witnessed this time and again as our students have developed good musical ears. That is what Talent Education is all about.

Q: Is it too late to start my child?

A: It is rarely too late. The main difference is that talent formation happens mostly at a younger age. If your lifestyle does not lend itself to starting your child in music lessons at an early age, we recommend listening to good music at home and attending child friendly concerts until you are ready to start lessons.

Q: What do I need to get started?

A: Before you get started, you will need an instrument for your child and one for yourself, especially if your child is younger than 7-8 years old. You will also need rosin. Cello students need armless chairs or stools that are knee height. You will also need the Suzuki Volume 1 book and recording for your instrument. Please do not purchase instruments before consulting with your teacher and please do not start learning on your own before the first lesson! You can start listening to the recording right away.