4 Books that Should be in Every Suzuki Parent’s Library

4 books every Suzuki parent should own

Practicing with our children can be a challenge.

Understanding how they learn and what we can do as parents to best help them isn’t always easy to figure out.

Suzuki parents have a big job. I would argue that they also have a wonderful opportunity.

I know that my dad and I have a special relationship because he was my primary Suzuki parent and got to know me so well during all those hours of practice.

Even though I really struggled as a Suzuki parent (you can read more about that HERE) I also feel like working so closely with my children gave us a special bond and helped me to understand them so much better.

One of my habits as a Suzuki parent was to read everything I could about child development, the Suzuki method, and parenting. It helped me realize how much of our struggles were just part of deal and totally normal and also when there were things I could do as a parent to better help my kids learn and develop.

One of these days I will do a huge post of all the books that have helped me as a parent and teacher. It would be a long list for sure.

For today, I am recommending four books that I think every Suzuki parent should own, read, and have on hand to refer back to.

I’m also going to share one bonus recommendation at the end of the article that I used all the time as a parent – especially as a parent with a very strong willed child.

Nurtured By Love: 

was written by Dr. Suzuki himself and is a must read for Suzuki teachers and families alike. You can read Suzuki’s personal story, how the Suzuki Method was developed and the philosophy behind it. The book is not long but I think it helps everyone who reads it have a new appreciation for what the Suzuki method is really all about.

I think this book gives an important perspective of what talent education is and also emphasizes Suzuki’s focus on developing students as people and building their character as well as developing musicians.

Helping Parents Practice

is by Suzuki teacher trainer Ed Sprunger. It has short easily digestible chapters that are extremely helpful on topics ranging from teaching rhythm to the psychology behind parent-child practicing relationships. Parents who have read this book years ago refer back to it all the time as a useful resource. One year I read a short chapter before each day of lessons and it really helped me focus my teaching well – the same could be done before each practice session as a parent for sure.

One of the most helpful sections is about why a child may be happy to do practice tasks with their teacher in the lesson but may totally melt down at home when practicing the same thing with their parent. It helped me as a parent and I am always handing the book to parents in the lesson when this comes up and recommending they read it and buy the book.

Life Lens: Seeing Your Children in Color

is written by Suzuki teacher Michele Monahan Horner and is a great resource for helping understand how to work with your students or with your child in practice. It gives great insight into different personalities of children we work with and then specific advice about how to practice with them on their instrument. I know that I and many of my colleagues have really gained new insight from this book and I recommend it to parents all the time.

Just in the past few weeks I used this resource to help a parent find tactics to work with her child in practice and putting Michele’s recommendations into the practice sessions totally turned things around. I really recommend picking up a copy. You can read my interview with the author to learn more HERE

Beyond the Music Lesson: Habits of Successful Suzuki Families

Yes, I had to add my own book to this list! Beyond the Music lesson was written specifically as a how to guide for helping Suzuki parents learn what it takes for their child to thrive and succeed. It’s what I wish I had had as a Suzuki parent many years ago and it’s what I wished was out there to hand to parents in my program when they started lessons or encountered a struggle.

In the words of Levar Burton “you don’t have to take my word for it .  .  . Here is a 5 start review from a verified purchaser on Amazon: “I’m thrilled to have this new book in my library and to recommend to my parents. I found myself wanting to bookmark every page because it’s full of pertinent information. Parents will learn how to have a great Suzuki experience. This book is good for those starting out or already in the process. I highly recommend it.”

and Here is my bonus recommendation

Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles: Winning for a Lifetime

This book has lots of dog eared pages from my Suzuki parenting days. It has great insights on how to work with strong willed children, how to deal with power struggles and tantrums and most of all it taught me to look at the big picture and pick my battles. And, how to do so in a way that set my child up to do well in life. I really recommend reading it if this is a struggle in your house.

So there you have it! Books every Suzuki parent (and teacher) should read and own.

I would love to hear what you would add to the list!

How Collaborating Helps us Thrive

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Sometimes private music teaching can be lonely. Unless a teacher is part of music school there are often many hours spent working alone, planning alone, and running events alone and it can be a bit isolating.

I taught in a music school for 10 years and then about 6 years ago left to start my own studio. There are many things I love about running my own program, but I do miss the people.

When I spend too much time teaching in isolation I find my creativity goes down. I find myself getting burnt out more easily.

I recently read Jeff Goins new book Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age (which officially comes out today – get your copy here!). As an aside I think that it should be called “Real Artists Don’t Have to Starve” but once I put aside arguing with the title in my head, it was a fantastic book about thriving while doing creative work, and I highly recommend it.

 

Collaborating

A few chapters of the book that stood out to me as a musician, writer and teacher but my favorite one was on the importance of collaboration.

Mostly because I have seen first-hand what a difference this makes.

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From Itzhak Perlman to Rachel Barton Pine: Why Students Need Music Heroes

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Who were your musical heroes growing up?

Mine was, hands down, Itzhak Perlman. The first time I saw him perform live was 1999, but I remember watching him at home often as a child. I watched him on Sesame Street (You can see one example here), in documentaries, and in recorded concerts on VHS tape.

I was totally entranced by his playing. It was my dream to be able to do what he was doing.

When I was six years old I came home upset from group class one day. Another student had teased me my facial expressions while playing.

I vividly remember my dad sitting me down in front of a video of Perlman playing. He told me “if he can make faces while playing, so can you!” I have never felt bad about my overly expressive face again. Add my dad to my list of musical heroes!

Music Heroes

Perlman was my model of a great violinist as a child. His playing was like a carrot on a string, dangling out there as something to work towards.

Listening to Suzuki recordings helped me learn my pieces and build my technique but listening to a great performer like this was a whole other level of inspiration.

One helped me learn my music; the other helped me learn the purpose for studying it in the first place.

Fast forward many years:

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