When my oldest was 4, he came home from preschool asking to play the violin. My husband and I smiled and suggested it was something we would do when he was older. He insisted we did not have to wait. The violin can be played by kids he explained. His teachers taught him about Mozart’s, “powerful music.” After weeks of asking, I gave in and started making phone calls.
Fast forward seven years. I have three violinist and a piano player all using the Suzuki method. If you are unfamilar, it’s a method of teaching that uses the triangle; child, teacher, parent to ensure success. As a suzuki parent I carry out the lesson plans set up by the instructor each week.
The entire Suzuki philosophy—and the reason children can start early—holds that all talents are taught, modeled, and practiced from birth. The 7 year old who has “musical talent” really has only had 7 years of music education. Every child begins learning at birth and never stops.
Dr. Suzuki’s idea was that any child could learn to play the violin well given enouh quality time and instruction. My suggestion is that when kids have the right supports in place, they can learn a lot more than the violin.
So what’s happening when students don’t learn?
How often do I size up a student who does not have the right supports in place and fail to recognize the cause?
This debate plays out in my mind frequently. When I work with my son on his reading, when I hear my girlfirend say, “oh my daughter can’t sing- it’s not her talent,” and when hear teachers talk about bright students who fail classes I try to remember Suzuki.
Consider this… If kids are only able to master what they have a natural knack for, than what does it matter what I do as a teacher?
Dr. Suzuki’s philosophy responds that even if the student has to work at something, even if he or she needs 1:1 support, even if it takes a lot of effort from everyone around… Every child can.
If they can, isn’t worth the effort to make sure they do?