Teaching Suzuki Early Childhood Education (or SECE) classes is truly one of the highlights of my week. The development in the children we work with happens literally before our eyes and there’s no doubt that music is having a wonderfully positive impact on both the students and families.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a parent in a SECE class? How young is too young to start attending? What might your child get out of Suzuki ECE that sets it apart from other programs?
I am excited today to share an interview with a parent in our SECE program who started attending classes with her daughter when she was just 7 weeks old.
At the time of this interview, Summer is just over two years old. I was excited to ask Heather, her mom, about their experience in the program, how it has impacted Summer over these past two years and why SECE is still an important part of their lives two years later.
Christine: What interested you in signing Summer up for the Suzuki ECE class at such a young age?
Heather: At around a month old, Summer could be quite fussy and I noticed when we would go out around others it seemed to help comfort her. We went to a musical instrument themed play date at a friend’s house and after Summer cried for twenty minutes solid in the car, the door to the house opened and a clear triangle sounded out. Summer stopped crying and was interested and content as she listened to the other simple instruments.
On our first day of Suzuki ECE class, Summer was 7 weeks old. She heard the instruments and quietly listened and took it all in.
I could tell each week that she had a lot to think about from class. She was unable to stay awake the entire class time or needed feeding intermittently but we could step out or sit to the side of the room while she napped.
It’s truly amazing to me that it didn’t matter what her mood was like earlier in the day or in the car, when class started she listened and thought. As she got older, she became more aware of and interested in her classmates too.
Christine: What are your goals for Summer through the class?
Heather: My main goals for the class are for Summer to enjoy and experience different musical elements and to gain confidence in her musical abilities.
I love the Suzuki ECE principle that “Every Child Can Learn.” We come back every term not seeking to develop a musical prodigy but because we want her to learn that when she is consistent and keeps with something over time, she will get better at it.
I can see as she is able to identify the songs and motions that she is proud of herself for having learned what to do. I want music to be a relaxing outlet for her as well.
Christine: What are some of the benefits you’ve seen for Summer over the last two years?
Heather: Over the past two years, I’ve seen her make a connection with music throughout different areas of her life.
She’s learned to count her numbers through doing scales.
We have little songs we sing throughout different activities of the day like getting ready for a meal, swinging in the park, brushing her teeth, cleaning up, preparing to sleep, etc.
I believe her word pronunciation is as good as it is because of the different sounds explored from the type of rhymes we go over in class.
When she hears music, she is comfortable dancing and patting the rhythm with her hand.
One of the first things that happens in the class is the children shake hands with one another. I remember at about 18 months old, when she would meet other children at the park she would shake their hands.
Christine: What is the best part of the class for you as the parent?
Heather: The best part of the class for me is to see the growth and changes occurring every week. At the end of class, we write a brief journal entry of our observations from class. This has made me more aware of different skills she is acquiring like dynamics, learning motions and lyrics to the songs, or gaining confidence to take a turn with the instruments.
It’s also a great way for us to bond and have fun.
Christine: What do you think Summer likes most about it?
Heather: She likes the actual music, rhymes, and rhythms. We read a lot at home and she likes to hear and repeat back Mother Goose poems. She seems to be a mainly kinesthetic learner so putting the poems together with instruments and movements engages her completely and I can tell she has a lot of fun.
Christine: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Heather: There was a time period around 15-20 months that Summer went through a phase of wanting to explore and not always following along in class. When we come to class, she is very shy and takes a couple of activities to warm up.
She doesn’t always want to take a turn on the instruments even though she has done it before in the past. Sometimes we need to step out of the room and take a break for two minutes.
She’s still a young child and is learning to participate and build her confidence.
As a parent, it can be really important to not let a bad day or moment overshadow the progress that is happening. I love spending this time with her and I can see the bigger picture of other important lessons she is learning like respect, endurance, and patience.
Our family appreciates the hard work that both of the teachers put in every week to continue to make this class such a positive experience.
A big thank you to Heather for sharing her thoughts with us. Her advice about those 15-20 month old behaviors is so wise!
As a teacher I couldn’t be more thrilled at the way the class has given Heather and Summer the opportunity to bond and spend time together and to hear all the skills the class is helping her develop. And I especially love that Heather has embraced the Suzuki concept that “Every Child Can Learn.”
I hope her thoughts give you some insight into what a wonderful program SECE is for parents & children to be a part of both for the development of a child holistically, musically and beyond!
If you are a teacher looking to get trained in SECE there are level one trainings planned the summer of 2018 in London, Ontario and at the Oregon Suzuki Institute and American Suzuki Institute. Updated to add: There will also be training this February (2018) in Switzerland (click here for more info). I will update as I hear about others!
If you’d like to download a pdf version of this interview you can do so below.
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