What to Expect for Parents

“Children learn to smile from their parents” – S. Suzuki

As a parent, I benefit tremendously from attending classes with the girls.

Practicing violin has become my daily routine. I never thought I would be able to pick up a new instrument before we joined HKSMI.

(Jaslyn, Suzuki STEP 3 mother, Daughters ages 6 and 7)

The Suzuki Triangle

Have you always wanted to be a part of your child’s musical education? With Suzuki education you can!

In the Suzuki Method, parents are involved in every aspect of their child’s musical education by learning the music and coaching their children at home.

The teacher and parent work together for the betterment of the child’s character, spirit, and musical ability.

Ideally, one parent should be the Suzuki parent for consistency, although both are encouraged to take active roles.

Please scroll down for the program in which you are interested.

STEP 1: Infant-Toddler Music (1m-36m)

STEP 1 is the first step in HKSMI’s 3-step family music program. It is a fun and engaging musical class where you and your infant or toddler can make music together! We listen to live performances and play on real instruments!

[read more=”Read more” less=”Read less”] When you arrive at HKSMI, you’ll be asked to gather in the reception area, sign the attendance register, and get settled before class. This is a great time to have a snack, check your phone, and chat with other parents. At class time, the teacher will invite you into the classroom as a group so everyone can start in a calm and focused environment. Please do not enter the classroom early.

There are two dozen musical activities to engage the children and adults! Unlike some other musical play groups, in STEP 1 the whole class follows the teacher for each song and participates at their age-appropriate level. For example, an infant will be helped by their parent to play the drum and be allowed to learn by observing the older children performing actions, while a two-year-old can play the drum themselves and follow many of the extra actions performed by the teacher.

The class itself starts with a calm activity of rolling a ball to music which focuses both the children and the parents and allows anyone who is a few minutes late to join quickly and quietly. This is followed by marching to a drum after which each child is invited to play the drum and direct the group. The next few activities are based on nursery rhymes from the British tradition and help to develop skills in marching to the beat, counting, and basic musical concepts such as loud and soft, or up and down. The rhymes vary by the week. The middle of the class is marked by a free movement activity where parents and children dance/move to live violin music with either scarves or shakers. Then each child is invited to approach the teacher to play the xylophone. The xylophone is everyone’s favorite!! The class ends with drumming and counting in multiple languages followed by story time and free time with books.

Although there is no home practice expected it is common that the children will sing the songs and follow the movements at home. Playing the CD which accompanies the class will help with your child’s enthusiasm between classes. You can begin a happy practice routine by spending a few minutes every day with your child singing the songs from the class.

Expectations of Parents in STEP 1:

Dr. Suzuki believed firmly in the importance of parents in the educational life of their children. Very young children learn best from their parents rather than a teacher. If you consider that the teacher in the class is your teacher and you are your child’s teacher, you are on the right track. With this in mind all adults who attend a class are expected to sing and move along with the teacher. Don’t worry you wont look foolish, everyone is doing it and it is a lot of fun! (many parents claim it is also a good workout!). Listening to the CD and reading the booklet at home will help with the words to any songs you don’t know. If there is a second adult for a child who is not participating in the class they will be asked to wait in the reception area.

Parents are also expected to turn off their mobile phones and spend the hour focused on making music with their children. In this highly connected world unplugged time is a real gift to your child! Also it is HKSMI’s policy to only wear socks or indoor shoes in the carpeted classrooms. [/read]

Register for STEP 1

STEP 2: Pre-Violin Class (Age 3)

STEP 2 is the second step in HKSMI’s 3-step family music program. This class is intended to prepare the young child for the full instrumental program at 4 years old.

[read more=”Read more” less=”Read less”] When you arrive at HKSMI, you’ll be asked to gather in the reception area, sign the attendance register, and get settled before class. This is a great time to have a snack, check your phone, and chat with other parents. At class time, the teacher will invite you into the classroom as a group so everyone can start in a calm and focused environment. Please do not enter the classroom early.

As in STEP 1 there will be many activities to keep students and parents engaged. Some elements from STEP 1 are retained for continuity such as ball rolling to start the class in a calm manner, there will also be a free movement section with scarves or shakers, and a chance to play the xylophone and drums. The nursery rhymes of STEP 1 will be replaced with beginning violin games which are often taught in STEP 3. These will vary a little from class to class but will generally focus on several areas: body balance/awareness, motor control games for the left/violin hand and right/bow hand, taking directions/following the teacher; concert manners; ear training; rhythmic training, musical concepts, taking turns in front of the teacher and more. The students will start without instruments, then be gifted a “box” violin, and over the course of the year may be introduced to the real violin when they are ready.

Please do not purchase or rent an instrument for this class unless the teacher asks you to do so.

Expectations of Parents in STEP 2 Twinkle Fingers:

Dr. Suzuki believed firmly in the importance of parents in the educational life of their children. Very young children learn best from their parents rather than a teacher. At three years old, there is a good balance between the teacher and parent. If you consider that the teacher in the class is your teacher and you are your child’s teacher, you are on the right track. With this in mind all adults who attend a class are expected to follow the teacher and help their children with all the activities. At this stage a small 5-minute daily practice time at home and listening to classical violin music regularly will be very useful to the progress in the class. Also watching the videos on the HKSMI youtube channel will help you with the repertoire. During your time in STEP 2 is it is expected that you and your child will attend other classes (master classes, group lessons, concerts) to observe and prepare for violin/viola lessons in STEP 3. Observation is a key motivator for young children.

Parents are also expected to turn off their mobile phones and spend the hour focused on making music with their children. In this highly connected world unplugged time is a real gift to your child! Also it is HKSMI’s policy to only wear socks or indoor shoes in the carpeted classrooms.

Helpers: Please note that helpers, or other paid persons, are not allowed to attend the STEP 2 or 3 instrumental master class or group lessons in lieu of a parent or relative. Other relatives or friends, non-paid persons, can replace a parent as needed in lessons. This is to best develop your child’s musical interest and ability in a consistent manner and grow a love of music within the family.[/read]

Register for STEP 2

STEP 3: Instrumental Program (Beginners, Ages 4-7)

STEP 3 is the third and final step for beginner musicians in HKSMI’s programming. Once they enter STEP 3, they will continue with their musical studies through secondary school and the programming will grow with them.

[read more=”Read more” less=”Read less”]

Beginners and young violinists/violists will have two lessons a week a 55-min master class lesson and a 45-min group class for their first year. In their second year and beyond they will still have at least two classes per week but their master class lessons will become private with occasional observers. Along the course of their musical journey there will be opportunities to join supplementary classes such as folk music, orchestra, chamber ensembles, improvisation, and more!

For beginner pianists, students will have a come early/stay late format for their master class lesson. Although their 45-min lesson will be technically one-on-one they are expected to stay for the first 15 minutes of the next lesson in order to benefit from observing other children learning. This is quite vital to motivation and understanding of the learning process! Group class will also be 45-minutes and utilize turn taking more often than ensemble playing due to the nature of the instrument.

For both group and master class lessons please arrive a few minutes early to get settled and have a drink of water/snack and visit the washroom. This is a good time to check your mobile phone and set it to “do not disturb.” This is also a great time for parents and students to catch up with each other in order to reduce chatting during the lesson time.

For group classes, please enter the classroom a few minutes early so the students and parents can take out their respective instruments and stand in the tuning line. If you are late, kindly take out your instruments in the reception area before entering the lesson and wait to be invited to be tuned and join the group.

In the first year, parents will be highly involved in the groups and will generally be present next to their child for most classes. As the children grow the parents will sit in chairs at the back of the classroom.

At the very start of the first year some group classes will be devoted entirely to the parents instead of the children while they are learning enough to engage in a group setting.

If you join during the year, your beginner child will be asked to observe the groups and will be gradually integrated as appropriate. The group classes are meant to teach team and ensemble skills, thus this class will focus on group dynamics. Parents are welcome to help their child with the activities, as needed but should double check with the teacher that it is appropriate. It is also normal for a child to sit and observe an activity if they are not ready to participate and/or have not yet learned it at home.

For violin/viola master class lessons, there are four main structural components:

  1. Students and parents enter the classroom and prepare for the lesson (taking out violins, getting settled, and getting the violins tuned)
  2. Both students will perform a few activities together, the number will vary from week to week according to the lesson plans
  3. The students will take turns standing in front of the teacher for their direct lesson. The parent of that child will also move up into the lesson space. How many turns will depend on the students’ needs that day.
    1. When it is not your child’s turn they will stay in the classroom and quietly read a book or color or do some other quiet activity, so that they can benefit from indirect or observational learning. Although they are not expected to stay perfectly still they should not be disruptive.
    2. Ideally, the parent will listen and take notes on the other child’s lesson as very often teaching points will be relevant to both children.
  4. The master class ends with parental instruction on the instrument and clarifying of the home practice assignments.

Home practice: Parents and children are expected to practice together with the parent taking on the coaching/teacher role. Do your best to create a positive practice environment and ask your teacher for suggestions on how best to do this with scheduling, practice space and language. By the end of the first year practice should be approximately 20-30 minutes per day. By the end of the third year, it will be between 30 and 45 minutes per day.

Expectations of Parents in Step 3

Expectations of Parents in Lessons:

Parents are expected to attend all master class and group lessons. In these lessons you will be expected to take notes, ask questions when appropriate, and actively participate when called upon. Most importantly, you are required to give your full attention to the lesson at hand and therefore all lesson spaces are mobile phone and electronic media oases.

In master classes you may be asked to learn how to teach a particular technique in home practice, work with your child or another child on a technique (e.g. setting up a bow hold), learn on your own instrument, sing, clap, or provide a model for any of the activities we are learning.

In group lessons you will be expected to take notes, offer assistance to your child or another if they need it (e.g. about to drop violin, are confused as to what to do etc.), actively participate when called upon, and be a great cheer leading squad!

Parent Course: The Suzuki parent is required to attend a parent lecture course as part of the first term coursework. This course lays out the basics of the Suzuki philosophy, history, and approach. It also allows parents to meet, discuss and learn some of the basics of the instrument. If the parent does not attend this class the student will be withdrawn from the program.

Parents’ Instrument: Parents should plan to rent a violin or viola for at least three months, during which time they too will learn the basics of the instrument along with their child. For piano, parents should plan to have access to a piano on which to practice.

Parents can expect to learn all the Pre-Twinkle steps and songs and be able to play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and variations” during this time. Learning to this level allows the parents a basic understanding of the instrument and how to better help their child at home. Parents are encouraged to continue playing until their child has completed their Book 1 graduation.

If, after the initial instrumental introduction, a parent wishes to continue their musical study in a semi-private or group adult class, please indicate your interest to the director.

Helpers: Please note that helpers, or other paid persons, are not allowed to attend the STEP 3 instrumental master class or group lessons in lieu of a parent or relative. Other relatives or friends, non-paid persons, can replace a parent as needed in lessons. This is to best develop your child’s musical interest and ability in a consistent manner and grow a love of music within the family. [/read]

Register for STEP 3

Graduations

There are series of graduation events during a child’s Suzuki music experience.

At the end of each book, there is a celebration of the students musical accomplishment and growth.

There are three components to a graduation: 1) in-lesson performance; 2) a recording for evaluation purposes; 3)and a group concert where each graduate will receive a Certificate of Achievement.

Exams and Competitions

The Suzuki philosophy is non-competitive. Therefore, HKSMI teachers do not prepare students for competitions or exams.

At HKSMI we believe that all children should enjoy music for its own sake and the joy it brings to their family, friends and community.

You could say that the Suzuki philosophy sees a world of people with whom we can cooperate, rather a world of people with whom to compete. In competitions there is only one winner.

Upon seeing hundreds of Suzuki students performing together in 1961, great cellist Pabolo Casals was moved to tears and stated that “Maybe music will save the world!”

 

Contact Us to join our 3-STEP Family Music Program

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