One of the many ways that Suzuki teachers differ from traditional music instructors has to do with our vision of your child as an accomplished learner. For each child that we teach, we hold a vision of that child as a young adult who is a fully formed musician.
Each week at the private lesson and group class, we are constantly asking ourselves what can we do today in this moment to bring this vision into reality. There are many skills that need to be developed, information that needs to be shared, layers of competency to be looked after.
All of the faculty here at the Western Springs School of Talent Education and the Naperville Suzuki School subscribe to a set of teaching values which we call the “Priorities For Teaching.” The Priorities are spelled out in my book “Teaching from the Balance Point.”
If you are not already familiar with these teaching values I’m sure that you will recognize that these are the very things your teacher works on every week at the lesson.
The priorities are:
1. Posture - including the physical posture of the body, instrument and bow
2. Tone - the commitment to understanding how our instrument works and the ability to produce a beautiful sound
3. Intonation - understanding how to play perfectly in tune through the use of resonance and ring tones
4. Musicianship - the essence of creating music. Learning how to develop a musical plan for the piece we are playing, and understanding how to apply all of the skills in our toolbox to make that musical intention clear to our audience.
5. Learning the notes and bowings to new pieces.
The priority that we all want to work on is number 4. Musicianship or musicality. All of the other priorities are necessary skills which need to be in place so that we can focus on the actual musical intention of the composer and musical interpretation of the performer.
There are many ways that we work on this important skill, but by far the most important way is through listening. Listening creates a musical template or model for the child’s ear. We have many ways to listen. We listen to our Suzuki reference recording. We listen to other good classical and other styles of music on the internet, the radio and recordings at home. We listen to our teachers demonstrations in the lesson.
Listening to live music will have the most profound impact on a student’s development as a musician. Most musicians that I know can remember the live musical performances that they witnessed over their lifetime that inspired them. Students who attend live performances will also be inspired to play like the performers they hear.
This month, we have an extraordinary opportunity. Several members of our faculty have been rehearsing together for weeks to present a concert of chamber music on Friday, November 13th, at the First Congregational Church. At this concert, you and your child will have the opportunity to be energized on many levels. First, you will hear wonderful music that was created by the composer. You will also hear how this particular group of performers have worked together to create a cohesive representation of that music. This involves staying true to the composer’s intent, while infusing the music with the performer’s own interpretation of the piece. You will also witness tremendous collaboration and cooperation. Chamber music is the ultimate demonstration of what it means to work together towards a common goal.
I hope that everyone will take advantage of this unique and special opportunity. I believe that you and your child will be truly inspired by observing your own teachers in a live performance. I have had the opportunity to preview some of the program a few weeks ago, and I know that you will be impressed, entertained, educated and exhilarated by this concert.