Why You Should Replace the To Do List

To Be List

If you’re like me you have a big to do list.

Being a Suzuki Parent can feel like it’s own big to do list. . . 

Attend Lessons
Take notes
Ask the right questions
Attend Group Classes & recitals
Make sure your child has all the materials & equipment they need
Make sure to listen every day
Practice on the days that you eat!

The list could go on and on and I’m sure you understand how important it is. 

I even wrote a whole book on the habits of successful Suzuki families. There are certainly many important things to do.

BUT

As a Suzuki teacher, parent, and former Suzuki kid, I understand both the importance of doing things well and also keeping things into perspective.

There are days where all of things we need to do seems like too much. When you wonder if it’s worth it or if you’re doing the right thing . . .  I challenge you to replace that to do list you have completely and think of who we’re striving to be instead . . .

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“Having more things to do than time is stressful

Having the chance to develop into who we want to be is inspiring”

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People who stay inspired stay motivated.
They don’t give up because they’re exhausted by the process.
They are excited to see where they are headed next.
Can we all agree we need more of that in our lives? Our Musical lives and beyond?
It’s true for me at least!

So let’s strive to: 

Be present
Be a family that listens to beautiful music
Be a part of the community around you
Be daily practicers
Be our child’s biggest fan
 .  .   .
As a teacher, I am passionate about the idea that if we focus on what we want to be: as a family, a parent (a teacher, or a student) then we can create an environment that helps students thrive.
Having a lot to do is stressful –  having the chance to develop into who we want to be is inspiring! Join me in replacing the To Do list.

What would you add to your To Be List? 

How Do I Know if My Child Will Like This?

How do I know if my Child will Like this?

Parents looking for lessons often ask me this question:

How do I know my child will like it?

Especially if your child isn’t sure which instrument they want to play

or are too young to really make that decision, you may struggle with this idea too.

You may know the research that having parents who are committed to their child playing an instrument long term is a huge factor in student success (you can read more about that HERE)

So, how do I know my child will like this?

Here is the honest answer . . .

There is no way to guarantee your child will like any activity you try long term.

Your child may become a professional musician, they may play through high school with music playing a huge role in their development, or they may study for a few years and develop other time consuming interests.

So what do we do if we’re not sure our child will love this?

I would argue the best way to ensure they do love it later is to treat it as if they already do.

What would you do now if you knew this was something your child would love and still be serious about in their high school years and beyond? 

Find the best teacher you can.

Get the best instrument you can afford.

Practice with them in a way that sets them up for success.

Keep them inspired by taking them to concerts and playing great music around the house and in the car.

Be an enthusiastic supporter of your child and provide them with the best instruction and equipment you can.

We wouldn’t give shoes that don’t fit and give callouses to a child trying out soccer for the first time. We wouldn’t let them skip going to practice when they didn’t feel like it. How will they love it if they never gain enough skills to make an educated decision about it?

Dr. Rebekah Hanson and I ran a parent talk at the Oregon Suzuki Institute last summer where we brought in a panel of teens to talk with parents. One of the questions we asked them was “at what point did you feel like you played your instrument well enough to really enjoy playing it?”

The panel of students was unanimous – it was around the book 4 or 5 level that they felt solid enough in their skills that they even knew if they liked playing. I think that’s fascinating!

So often students (and parents) give up before this point because it’s hard or they don’t like it. That would be like deciding you don’t like reading before you’re past the stage of haltingly sounding out words and before you can read a great story with ease.

The likelihood is that if you can get past the stages where everything feels challenging and start to make music with ease the love of playing will develop.

This is where you come in . . .

What would you do now if you knew your child would love this activity for the rest of their life?

Go ahead and do it.

It is never a waste to strive towards something and work towards developing our skills.

Those skills carry over into other things we will do in life and sometimes they carry us over from what we’re doing now as a beginner to a life long passion for something we love.

Act as if they will love it.

Put the time and resources into it as if it is something they love (or will love)

As a teacher I thank you for giving them that gift.

Working Productively With Parents

This article was originally given as a short presentation at the Suzuki Association of the America’s Leadership retreat last week. It was parent of  a series of short talks about working productively with parents. If you would like to share it please do!

 

How do we work productively with the parents in our studios? How do we help new parents understand what being a Suzuki parent involves? How do we help them be successful working with their child as they learn and grow?

I was trying to come up with the most useful thing I could share with other teachers on the topic of working with parents. So, I started to think about all of the things I do in my studio like conferences, parent education, and parent talks.

There are lots of things we can do as teachers to help parents be successful. However, I would like to ask teachers to think bigger picture than that.

Working Productively with parents

As a young violin teacher I heard a concept that blew my mind at the time. When you look at the beginner student in front of you – don’t think about what they need in order to learn to play twinkle. Think about what they need in order to play a Mozart Concerto and teach them with that in mind.

I believe we need to do the same thing with new Suzuki Parents.

  • What do the parents we work with need to know about the process of helping their child thrive in the Suzuki method?
  • What can we explain better from the start that will keep parents from struggling later?
  • What bad habits can families get into that might not matter for a beginning student but will cause big problems down the road?
  • How do we take parents – who probably don’t know what they are getting into when they get started with us and help them make the Suzuki method work in their everyday lives?
  • How do we help get them come on board and be willing work with us to help their child succeed?

When I think about the families that I work with the most productively I think about families that:

Read more

You are Your Child’s Practice Environment

“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” – Albert Einstein

 

I came across this quote the other day and was hit by how true this is of many Suzuki teachers I know and how they teach. We strive to really teach the children in front of us, not only to teach the instrument or song a child is learning.

The quote also got me thinking about the way parents practice with their children. Are the parents that I work with practicing with their children with this kind of attitude? Do they focusing on understanding how their child learns and then setting up practice to use that knowledge to help their student learn? Are we setting up a practice environment that helps them thrive?

In Suzuki ECE training we learn that we as adults are our children’s practice environment.

The tone we set . . .

The mood we bring . . .

The attitude we have . . .

Even beliefs we have about what & how children can learn.

All of these things work together to created the environment that your child is learning and practicing in all week long. Read more