To Parents of Very Young Children
First of all, thank you for deciding that providing music education to your child is important. You are wise to do so.
The following is my advice to parents and guardians of very young children. Growing up as a Suzuki Talent Education (“Suzuki Method”) student, having the good fortune to study as a student of one of the foremost pioneers and teachers of the method in the U.S., and subsequently taking teacher training in Suzuki Talent Education, I do not believe in teaching the violin to children under five--well, O.K., sometimes four-and-a-half. I know that some teachers do take on toddlers as violin students. I disagree with that approach. But, “from birth” is not too early to begin a child’s exposure to music. Here are a few suggestions for your consideration:
1) Make sure that good classical music is being played on the stereo in the home, and that the child hears it, actively (maybe sit with them as they listen) and passively (in the background as they play or do other activities). Baroque music (1600-1750) is good for this purpose: Vivaldi, Corelli, Bach, Handel, etc. are masters of this period; then maybe a little Classical period repertoire (1750-1800): Mozart and Haydn. Wait on nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century music until later, which can be more complicated and perhaps less attractive to youngsters. Try to find the best examples of the musical works you choose.
2) At this early stage, instead of violin (or other instrumental) lessons, enroll your child in a good Eurhythmics/Early Music Education type of class. There, he or she will learn some musical rudiments (rhythm, pitch, training the ear)—the basics, giving the child a good musical foundation for any instrument he or she may take up later. Dalcroze Eurhythmics is a good early music education approach. So is Orff Eurhythmics. Monroe Street Movement Space in Hoboken offers eurythmics classes. Yet another widely available franchise is Music Together, also available nearby.
3) When you do decide to begin lessons, seek out a fine Suzuki teacher; and be prepared to attend the lessons and supervise the child’s practice during the week: an extra commitment for the parent or guardian. No kid can direct his or her own practice until perhaps age ten. Only the cooperation of all three parties--student, parent, and teacher—will lead to good progress and a positive overall experience.
Can you tell that I feel strongly about these matters? Good luck to you. And if in the future you are still looking for a teacher, I’d be glad to talk to you as your child nears his/her fifth birthday.
If you have further questions, please contact me.