Suzuki Cello Lessons

 

The KSA cello faculty certainly understands why you might be reading this section on cello lessons. The cello is universally lauded as the instrument closest to the human voice. It can act as both a bass instrument and also as a solo instrument, boasting an incredibly versatile register of notes. A close relative of the cello, the cello has become one of the most popular instruments for study in the United States.

 

While a full sized cello is bigger than most small children, happily cellos come in fractional sizes, allowing your young cello student to have an instrument that they can learn to play comfortably, with quality instruction.

 

Suzuki cello students will be listening daily to professional recordings of the music they are and will be studying on the instrument, mimicking the passive learning of language that all children experience. As your young cello student gradually and unconsciously memorizes the tunes they will later play through daily listening to recordings at home and in the car, they are becoming “prewired” for better acquisition of skills on the cello, and greater desire to learn to play these tunes that they already are singing themselves. This internalized desire to learn to play songs that they know already aids the child’s daily at-home practice, led and participated in by the Suzuki parent.

 

Children learn to speak first by hearing language and mimicking it. We follow this process in Suzuki cello lessons. Your young Suzuki cello student will be mastering a variety of early songs from the Suzuki literature, all from the listening, the interactions in lessons with their teacher and in group classes, and the daily home practice supervised by the parent. As reading and writing skills develop well after children become fluent speakers, Suzuki cellists first foster musical fluency without referring to the written notes. Later, all Suzuki students do learn to read music well. They retain, however, the musical fluency and coherence that comes from initially learning an instrument with the ears and fingers more than the analytical brain and eyes.  For many years now, about half of the members of the Knoxville Youth Symphony cello section each year studied Suzuki cello from KSA cello faculty. They clearly all learned to read music!

 

Parental involvement and positive support are critical in the “Suzuki triangle” of parent, child, and teacher. Parents attend and take notes and, if possible, make video recordings of lessons to review during the week with their child in practice time.

 

As is the case with language acquisition, every new step in a child’s growth with cello, no matter how small, needs to be met with enthusiastic encouragement by the Suzuki parent. As parents, we don’t criticize our 3-year-old for incorrectly using the subjunctive tense. Rather, we praise that child for expressing themselves with words, learning a new word, or showing that they understand someone else’s speech. In the Suzuki approach, students, with the encouragement of their parents and teacher, grow in their innate love of learning in this non-pressured environment of encouragement, stimulation through lessons, daily listening to recordings, and at home instrument time led by the parent.

FAQs

When should my child start?

For most children Suzuki cello lessons can successfully begin at age three. While many children start a bit later, at age 4 or 5 or even later, the results with very young children can be remarkable. While some children might start lessons later, there is an advantage to starting during years of peak language acquisition. Suzuki Instrumental lessons during that window are especially powerful. That said, we regularly welcome beginning students who are older. For beginning students who are age 11 or above, we alter the Suzuki approach to accommodate the student’s different developmental stage at which they are beginning the instrument. While the process is somewhat different for an “older” beginning student, we have had great success with many students who begin lessons later in childhood.

What special equipment will I need?

During that early phase of lessons, your child will be learning important concentration, singing, and physical deportment skills, preparing the way for them to play on an instrument. When your instructor tells you that it is time, you will need to procure an appropriately-sized student cello. These can be rented or purchased.

 

You will need from the first lesson to have professional recordings of the Suzuki cello literature, for daily listening at the house and/or in the car.

What is required of me to be a successful parental member of the Suzuki triangle? Can I succeed as a Suzuki parent without my own musical background?

No special musical background or advanced expertise is required to be a great Suzuki parent. The first lesson or two you actually have without your child in attendance. In these sessions your child’s teacher will go over the philosophy and approach for the lessons, and explain how you can be a powerful positive leg of the Suzuki triangle in your child’s journey with music. Active engagement in lessons by the parent is necessary. This includes attendance, note taking from the lesson and, when possible, making videos. Helping create a schedule at the home that includes lots of listening to Suzuki piano recordings and daily home practice are also part of your role as a parent of a Suzuki student.

 

For at least the first several years parents will help lead their child’s practice at home. It is especially important to remember that the goal of each practice is to have a positive, happy experience with the instrument and music. Every small success is praised, and every challenge is treated with kind patience. There is no challenge your child cannot master. Sometimes we need more time to master something. Sometimes we need to break a challenge into smaller constituent elements, mastering each of those smaller chunks before proceeding to combine them. In all of that engagement and problem solving, we commit as Suzuki parents to approaching the practice with calm patience and celebrate each small success with our child.

 

If you are most engaged, we encourage you to rent or purchase a cello yourself, and practice with your child at the house. The message that you give your child if you, too, are teaching yourself cello, is a powerful one indeed. And, sharing the joy of discovery and quest of learning to play cello with your child is a rare and wonderful opportunity.

 

Remember, the goal of Suzuki lessons is to grow beautiful people and great and happy citizens. The process is everything in the Suzuki philosophy. Musical expertise is a byproduct of those other, ultimate goals. The encouraging, supportive, non-stressful environment is of great benefit to your child in their quest with Suzuki cello study.