Young or old, Everyone can benefit
from studying Suzuki piano.
See below for Frequently Asked Questions:
I'm an Adult. Am I Too Old for Lessons?
Contrary to popular thought, it is never too late to start Suzuki music training: Adults who always wanted to study music thrive on the Suzuki Piano Basics approach.
Every year, several of our students are adults who did not study music before, or who were taught the disastrous F-A-C-E and Every Good Boy Does Fine method...and consequently felt like musical failures.
(That mnemonic method is sort of like the whole-word approach to reading. It handicaps reading beyond the earliest levels.)
The adults in our program are thriving and making rapid progress in their music studies, now that they are trying the native-language approach.
Is My Child Too Young for Lessons?
Science shows us that babies are musical even in the womb. They can react positively or negatively to sound inputs. They show greater interest in unfamiliar music and language, paying close attention; and they show inattentiveness, sleepiness, or contentment with familiar music and language. In recent years, scientific researchers have been using heart rates and physical movements to monitor in-utero babies' reactions to familiar and unfamiliar sounds, music, and language. The results are fascinating!
So, perhaps it should be no surprise that babies can begin learning music from birth. Most children are ready to begin formal study of piano at 3 years old.
Younger siblings of Suzuki students are often ready to begin at age 2, because they have been listening to the CD's and attending their older brother or sister's lessons for a year or more.
What about age 1? Yes, it is possible for children to begin learning piano very early! If the parent is willing to take lessons first, and provide the example and environment that most naturally raises a musical child, then a child can begin learning from a very early age — even only a few months old. Then, starting at about age 1, we can begin formal training of the child. We use games and activities that are fun for the child, to build finger dexterity, rhythm, singing voice, and pitch recognition. When they are this young, we do not expect them to play already-composed pieces yet, but they can improvise and imitate. It is important for the parent to continue learning piano during this time, and to realize that most of the lesson time will continue to be focused on the parent. This is because young children will desire to study the piano if they think they are copying Mommy or Daddy. Dr. Suzuki was very smart to figure this out!
Important: All children are musical, and all children will be accepted into the program. No one is ever turned away, because EVERYONE can learn to play music. I have never seen a student fail, and I never will. Everyone succeeds if they have a positive attitude, and if they are willing to work hard. It is my job to ensure their success.
How Can I Prepare My Baby or Toddler for Lessons?
Parent can prepare a young child for music lessons by providing a fun and informal beginning to musicianship studies. The best way to do this is through musical play. Young children live in a world of the senses, so interact with your children through rhyme, singing games, movement and simple percussion play, providing an excellent foundation for more formal music studies in the future.
Listening to Suzuki piano CDs by Dr. Haruko Kataoka during playtime is an excellent and joyful way to instill in your child what good piano playing should sound like. When children go to the piano to make sound, they will try to imitate Dr. Kataoka's beautiful tone.
Young children will also imitate the examples of other musicians in their households. Look at the child in the picture above. He is only 2.5 years old, but look how well he imitates his mother, brother, and sister: His hands are nicely curved, he is playing the piano keys carefully and beautifully, and he is looking at the written music with an understanding that those black dots are for making music. His family has also taught him that practicing the piano is fun: Look at the joyful expression on his face.
Parents are a child's most important music teachers. Parents don't need to be musical themselves, but do need to be enthusiastic about music and willing to be involved in guiding their children in a spirit of fun, praise and encouragement. A loving emotional bond between parent and child is the most powerful motivator.
Children learn music much the same way they learn language. They absorb beat, rhythm and melody from the models around them, which might be other children, adults, games, radio, CDs, etc. The earliest years of a child's life are especially exciting, as this is when children are best able to 'catch' the musical nuances of great artists. By providing children with the greatest examples of recorded and live music—e.g., classical, opera, world music—parents are able to nurture children's heightened musical sensitivities.
For more ideas about sharing music with your child, you might enjoy this article. If you would like to schedule a consultation to introduce your child to the piano studio and see demonstrations of activities you can do at home to prepare your child for music study, please email Suzanne at this link. Also, you might want to consider taking some piano lessons yourself, because seeing you sit at the piano and play will have an enormous motivational effect on your child. In fact, Suzanne remembers that the reason she wanted to learn to play piano was because she saw her mother practicing pieces for her own lessons!