Thursday, November 11, 2010

The "Third" Piece of the Triangle

The Suzuki Triangle consists of three important parts: the student, the parent, and the teacher. All three have distinct roles to play, and are integral to a child learning to play.

I grew up as a Suzuki student. My parents, both professional musicians and teachers—violin and bass—started me on violin when I was 2 ½. The story is that they pretty much had to give me my own violin so I would leave their instruments alone. I started teaching in 1996, and a year and a half ago I started my older daughter, beginning my tenure as a Suzuki parent. Now my younger daughter is also learning to play, because the only way I could work uninterrupted with her sister was to give her a lesson first. And the cycle continues…

Our triangle looks a little funny, since I am both teacher and parent. But seeing things from this side has been amazing. I get a whole new perspective as the person responsible for daily listening, practice, and overall development. The parent’s role is huge. This is the person who does the work on the ground, finding a way to make violin a part of daily life, fulfilling the role of teacher at home. This is not a drop-your-kid-off-and-have some-free-time-after-school activity by any stretch of the imagination. I knew it would be a challenge. I knew it would be a commitment. I also knew I would get a lot of insight into the whole process of learning violin. But at the same time, I had no idea. I am learning so much.

You know what, though? It is such a beautiful thing to be part of.


  1. First of all.... I LOVE the photo. :)
    Secondly, I admire all you do with your kids.

  2. Mmmm, convicting! I used to go to all the lessons and worked with Destry every day. . .now I tend to leave it up to him. Is there a point at which the child can just be responsible and self-motivated, or do I need to go back to being more involved in his violin training?? Seriously. . .

  3. No, at his age it is entirely appropriate for him to take ownership--it's a natural part of the process. The parent gradually steps back as the student gets older, and it is supposed to be that way. Destry takes responsibility for what I tell him; I have him write down his assignments, and he comes back having worked on the stuff. He's doing great. Please, no guilt--you've been doing a great job, Mom! Your support, and driving, and helping him keep violin in his schedule are exactly what you should be doing.

    (My dad actually wrote a book about the Suzuki violin student getting older--it's called Expanding Horizons: The Suzuki-Trained Violinist Grows Up, by Mark Bjork. Highly recommend it.)

  4. Phew! :) Relief! That sounds like a book I need to order and read (giggle--add it to my tote full of books that "I want to read"--there simply aren't enough hours in the day, hmmmm?). He really does enjoy it and chooses to set violin as a priority.


I love hearing from you!