The Student/Parent/Teacher Triangle

Before signing up for music lessons, it is important to understand that the student, the parent, and the teacher will be sharing equal responsibilities throughout your music lesson experience. My method of teaching will involve much more than just dropping your kid off at my house once a week... I teach using Dr. Shin'ichi Suzuki's “Mother Tongue” method which teaches the student music the same way they learn a language. I am a strong believer in Dr. Suzuki's theory that every child is born with the ability of becoming a capable musician with proper education and a positive practice environment at home. With these expectations in mind, I promise to provide you and your child with a positive learning environment, and the knowledge needed to create that environment at home. By understanding these expectations, your family will have the best chances at musical progression and enjoyment:

PARENT EXPECTATIONS:

  • PARENT ATTENDANCE – Parents are required to attend every private and group lesson and will be expected to take notes and sometimes even participate in the lessons! At home, parents will be expected to participate in practicing. Parents will be given guidance from the teacher at every lesson on how to assist their child when practicing at home.

  • DAILY LISTENING – While this is also the student's responsibility, you can greatly increase how quickly your child learns by playing the Suzuki & Fiddle recordings as much as possible. I recommend playing the CD for the book they are in plus one book higher. Play them in the car, in the background during meals, or while doing chores until it is stuck in everyone's head. This may seem excessive, but if the music is stuck in your child's head, then they will know the music that much more.

  • PROVIDING QUALITY LEARNING MATERIALS – It can be more than frustrating sometimes to see a student do everything correctly, yet struggle to create a beautiful sound because they don't have a comfortable shoulder-rest, they need new strings, or they have an instrument that was set up improperly.

  • PROVIDING AN INSPIRATIONAL MUSICAL ENVIRONMENTIf coming to weekly lessons is the only musical enrichment your child is getting, then music lessons will likely not be a very fun experience for them over time. Going to see live music, or participating in local workshops, festivals, or jam sessions are a great way to expose your child to more musical role models and provide them with the desire to learn.

STUDENT EXPECTATIONS:

  • THE DESIRE TO LEARN – Students should strive to be inspired to play and to try new things every time they walk through the door. The best way to absorb knowledge is to be excited about it!

  • RESPECT – Students will be expected to practice being respectful towards the teacher and the parent during lessons and during practice time. (Remember, the parent will become the teacher when practicing at home!)

  • DAILY LISTENING – The reason children can learn to speak their native language at such a young age is because they hear it spoken around them all the time. If they hear the music they are learning just as often, playing music will feel just as natural as speaking their native tongue.

  • DAILY PRACTICE – If you and your child do not have time to practice at least a little bit every day, then this may not be the method for you. Every day your child goes without practicing they will lose valuable knowledge and muscle memory needed to progress.

Attendance

It's important to know that music lessons are a big time commitment. Not only will you be expected to show up for all of your scheduled private and group lessons, but you will need to find time to practice each day. Students who often miss lessons or practice time will progress much slower (or may not progress at all). Most teachers have similar attendance policies with this in mind.

  • If you absolutely need to miss a lesson (due to sickness, family emergency, etc.) please try to let me know before noon that day. (I cannot guarantee I will be able to check my phone or email once I start teaching for the day.)

  • Missed lessons will not be reimbursed, but can be made up when time is available. (Skype lessons can be arranged if you are out of town or can't leave home due to weather or sickness.)

  • It is the parent's responsibility to contact me about rescheduling or making up a missed lesson. 

Please note that while I am very commited to the time I have scheduled for lessons, I can not be an “on-call” music teacher. Each lesson requires a lot of time to prepare for. This is why it's important to make your scheduled lesson time a priority and if you need to make a change, give me plenty of advanced notice.

Lesson Etiquette & Behavior

Your role as an attentive and involved parent is very important during lessons. However, it can be too stressful for a child to hear too many instructions from both their teacher and their parent. A good routine for lessons is to observe how I direct your child, and to take note on how you can do the same at home. Often, I will even provide the opportunity for you to try being the teacher during the lesson.

When it comes to behavioral events, I will usually let the parent take the lead on how to handle the situation. Part of my job as a Suzuki teacher is to model and encourage politeness, respect, and good behavior. Most really young children won't have these skills mastered, and I do not expect them to until they are quite a bit older, so I know the best thing I can do as a teacher is to be patient and acknowledge good behavior when I see it. With that said, no one will know their child and what he or she needs better than their parent, so if you notice that something does not seem to be working, please talk to me about it (preferably not in front of the child).

Finally, please keep in mind when coming to private lessons that my studio is also my home. While I have lots of training and experience in being a teacher, I cannot be a baby-sitter and a teacher at the same time. Here are some important rules to ensure the safety of your children, my teaching space, my family, and my home:

  • Students must wash their hands before each lesson. In addition to keeping me safe, this will also make your instrument last a long time!

  • Children are NEVER allowed to be left unattended in my home. In addition to being present and fully engaged during lessons, parents need to have full supervision of all of their children the entire time they are there.

  • With the exception of siblings who both take lessons, siblings are best left at home. Your attention to the lesson is compromised if you are watching over another child. If you absolutely must bring siblings, they must stay in the room under the parent's supervision at all times and are never allowed to be left unattended anywhere in my home.

Learning Materials

One of your responsibilities as a Suzuki parent is to make sure your child has the proper tools to make their learning experience fun, easy, and effective. I often like to compare buying or renting a violin to buying or renting a car: Getting a brand-new high-end car from a qualified dealership is usually pretty expensive (and I realize does not fit into everyone's budget), but comes with a lower risk of any mechanical issues. Getting a used car may be more affordable, but comes with an increased risk of having some hidden (and often expensive) problems. If you were to get a used car from an unqualified source, it would probably be in your best interest to have it looked over by a qualified mechanic before taking out on its first road-trip. With that said, please get to know your local luthier. They can look over your instrument and let you know what you need to be doing to keep it in tip-top shape for a long time.

My suggestion is to go to a couple of violin shops and try a few instruments out that are in your price-range It's important for the instrument to make a smooth, resonant sound and for it to be comfortable to play. For smaller musicians, I often suggest renting an instrument since children will often grow out of their instrument after a year or two. (Petr's Violin Shop and Alaska Music & Sound have wonderful instrument rentals. All of their violins are excellent quality and are set up professionally for students.) If you plan on ordering a violin online, try to buy (or rent) from a source that will let you try before you buy. www.swstrings.com and www.sharmusic.com are great online sources for well set up instruments and materials.

REQUIRED LEARNING MATERIALS:

  • a properly set up Violin & Bow (“Twinkle Tots” will use a practice violin before graduating to a real violin.)

  • Rosin

  • Cleaning Cloth

  • Shaped Shoulder Rest (I prefer either ZaretEverest or Kun)

  • Notebook & Pencil (for parents to take notes during lessons)

  • Bunny Ballads” by Kathleen Spring (for “Twinkle Tots” and “Twinkle Stars” students only!)

  • Suzuki Violin School” Book *revised edition!* (I recommend owning the book you are in plus the next book.)

  • Suzuki Violin School” Recording *revised edition!* (You can download it online, buy the CD, or purchase the book & the CD together.)

  • American Fiddle Method” Books (with the C.D. & D.V.D.!)

  • Folder or Binder for extra sheet music

HELPFUL (BUT NOT REQUIRED) MATERIALS:

  • Humidifier (either in your case or in your home. Some violin shops require you use one if you are renting.)

  • Tuner (look for a free tuning app if you have a smart phone!)

  • Staff Paper (print for free at www.blanksheetmusic.net)

  • Metronome (listen for free at www.metronomeonline.com)

  • Recording Device (either a camera, mp3 recorder, or even just a phone that will record! Please just remember that all pictures and videos are not to be shared without permission!)

  • Nurtured by Love” by Shin'ichi Suzuki

  • Music Mind GamesPuppy Pack” (these are the same materials I use in group class, only slightly smaller. Perfect for at-home use!)

  • Membership with the Suzuki Association of the Americas – This gets you a regular magazine in the mail as well as access to the “Parents as Partners” online blog.

Instrument Maintenance & Repair

While I am capable of doing small repairs such as changing a string, or fitting a bridge, I know that the luthier at your local violin shop would be able to do these things much faster and will probably do a much better job. Why would you take up your entire $40 lesson for me to change your strings, when the luthier at your local violin shop will do it for $20? It's very important to keep a good relationship with your luthier. If you ask nicely, they will often show you how to change your strings your self and tell you any other things you may need to do to keep your instrument in tip-top shape. Owning or leasing an instrument is much like owning or leasing a car. Continuous maintanance is essential, and while some repairs can be done at home, most repairs are best done by the professionals. Here are some of my favorite Violin Shops:

Petr's Violin Shop – 1408 Hyder Street, Anchorage, AK 99501 (907-276-1800)

John Osnes Violins – 8900 Jupiter Drive, Anchorage, AK 99507 (907-346-3609)

Alaska Music & Sound – 1000 Ingra Street, Anchorage, AK 99501 (907-272-4676)

Mike's Music - 12551 Old Glenn Highway #4, Eagle River, AK 99577 (907-694-6453)

Payment

After registering for lessons, you will be sent an invoice to cover the entire semester. Tuition is due on the day of your first lesson and can be made via cash (in person only), check, or PayPal. Paying for the semester as a whole lets me know that you are committed to your scheduled lessons, and helps me cover my studio costs (including group class space, materials, hiring accompanists, etc...). Ideally, every student would attend every scheduled lesson in the semester, but I know that sometimes the occasional conflict or family emergency will happen. 2 group lessons and 2 private lessons are automatically deducted from the total cost of your tuition as a form of insurance for these missed lessons. Additional missed lessons will not be re-imbursed, but can be made-up when time allows.