Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Violinists in Diapers?

Dr. Suzuki insisted that "everyone can learn to play violin." To him, this meant even very young children, as young as 2 or 3. I started learning violin before I was 3 from a hard-core Suzuki violin teacher who had studied in Japan with Dr. Suzuki. My mom remembers me going to lessons in diapers. However, I was no Sarah Chang, who knew the Bruch violin concerto by age 6. I must have taken years to get past Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, because by the time I was 10, I was about at the same level as kids who had started at 7. I don't really know what benefit I got from starting that young. I suppose playing the violin is more a part of me since I can't remember a time when I didn't do it. However, I think there are other ways to ingrain music into young children besides paying for lessons for them. Playing music for them and singing with them will make music a part of their lives.

I do teach the Suzuki method, but I am not a purist, so I don't teach children any younger than 5. I tried to teach a 4-year-old once, and found it too difficult to keep his attention for a whole lesson period. I think it is easier on parents, teachers, and children to hold off giving them formal lessons until they are school age.

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