Two mantras from Dr. Suzuki's philosophy that direct my piano instruction are “every child can [learn]” and “excellence with joy.” I believe that every child is capable of nurturing his/her talent to a standard of excellence and that joy is the motivation.
I hope to help students achieve excellence in
- tone production (including ear training and technique development)
- music reading
- overall musicianship
I believe that as students gain proficiency in these areas they will find satisfaction and a desire to continue playing all of their lives. I also believe that we as teachers and parents can foster this growth and enjoyment by helping them find joy in the journey. We should be creative in helping students play the piano. While practicing requires diligence, focus and hard work, we should always try to begin and end each session positively.
Payment and Fees
Tuition is $100 for a 30 minute lesson ($150 a month for a 45 minute lesson and $200 a month for a 60 minute lesson). I recommend, upon completion of Suzuki Book One, that students should move to a 45 minute lesson. Once they get beyond Suzuki Books Two or Three, students benefit from an hour lesson. Additional siblings receive a $5 discount per month per child.
Tuition is a monthly fee and covers not only your lesson time, but also the time I spend preparing for lessons and recitals, managing the business and maintaining the instruments and studio space. Typically, there will be 3 individual lessons and 1 group class each month but this is not guaranteed. We typically take a break in lessons during school holidays.
I do expect students to continue lessons through the summer. Summer lessons may be offered individually or in a group lesson format. Group lessons are different from group classes which are only offered during the school year. During summer group lessons, students will be placed into groups of 3-5 students of similar ability. They will work together to progress through the repertoire, work on technique and learn sight reading and theory together. Summer group lessons will be 45-60 minutes in length and cost $40-45 per student per month. Students are guaranteed to receive 6 group lessons during the summer months or 9 individual lessons.
Tuition is due by the 10th of each month. Please include a $10 late fee with tuition paid after the 10th day of the month.
Additionally, each student in my studio must be a member of the Suzuki Association of Utah. Fees are $35/family and are due yearly on September 1st.
Students are expected to come prepared to all individual lessons and group classes as well as any studio recitals. Students are considered prepared for a lesson when they have practiced and listened to the recordings at least 5 of the 7 days since the last lesson.
Studio recitals are typically held on Saturday afternoons in September, December, March and May. Families who fail to attend one or more recitals during any given year are in jeopardy of losing their spot in the studio. Additional regional recitals, festivals and competitions may be available for interested students. Recital preparation includes students being in best dress with pieces well-polished and memorized.
I will always offer a makeup lesson for sickness and other emergencies. If you need to reschedule a lesson for any other reason, please contact another student in the studio and arrange to trade lesson times. My calendar can be viewed on my website. No makeup is offered for missing group lessons or group classes.
If you would like to stop taking lessons, please give me 4 weeks notice. I would like to have time to say goodbye and to find another student to fill the slot in the studio.
Equipment and Supplies
One of Dr. Suzuki's philosophies was that beginning students should have the best teachers and the best equipment available for the most effective talent training. Each family should have the best quality acoustic piano that they can afford. They should also provide maintenance and tuning regularly (once or twice a year is recommended).
Additionally, proper seating is essential to establishing correct technique for tone development, injury prevention and playing ease. Each family is responsible for an adjustable bench/chair and footstool.
Students are responsible for their own copies of Suzuki Piano School New International Edition. They should own the printed music as well as legal and easily accessible copies of the recordings for each level as they progress. Also, sight reading material and other music is the responsibility of the student. I am always happy to purchase music for you if you include reimbursement with your monthly tuition.
The Suzuki method is best known for “the mother tongue method” of teaching. Dr. Suzuki was amazed when he realized that young Japanese children can learn Japanese, one of the hardest languages in the world, just by listening to and imitating their parents. He applied this observation to his talent development program by encouraging students to listen to great artists and their music.
Students in my studio are required to listen one hour each day as part of their daily practice. Most of the time, their listening should focus on the pieces from the book they are currently studying. Students should find a balance between listening to the book in its entirety and more focused listening before and after practice sessions. It is also helpful for students to listen to the pieces from the next book they will study once they are half-way through learning the current book.
Since providing a musical environment is important in talent development, I also recommend listening to other classical music and attending concerts of quality performances as often as possible.
Daily practice is expected for each student. A good rule of thumb is that students should practice at least as many minutes a day as their lesson (i.e. 30 minute lesson = 30 minutes of practice a day). Please understand that progress, enjoyment and motivation are all directly linked to diligent practicing. Practicing may be broken up into smaller sessions (especially for young beginners).
In order to be prepared for their lessons, students should practice and listen at least 5 days a week and should include some careful, focused, slow practice on small sections. I recommend finding time to at least play something everyday. On occasion when you can't get to a piano (on vacation for example), just doing the listening can count for 100% of the practice. An especially helpful way to practice by listening, is by following allow in the music while listening to the recording.
The ultimate goal is to make practicing and listening a normal part of every day. Find a way to make it become a part of your routine. Ideally, students eventually gravitate to playing something everyday out of enjoyment. For this reason, anytime students (especially young beginners) choose to go to the piano on their own, parents should notice, compliment, assist and encourage their playing.
Parent, Teacher, Student Triangle
Suzuki method relies heavily on the assumption that the teacher, student and parent work together to achieve excellence.
The teacher is responsible for teaching
- tone development
- musical sensitivity
The teacher also commits to continuing to develop her teaching and playing abilities by attending professional development trainings, taking lessons and constantly researching her own playing.
The role of the parent is vital. They are responsible for
- correct positioning at the piano
- correct fingering
- inviting the student to practice and listen each day
- attending each lesson
As they are such an essential part of ensuring their child's success, each student must have at least one parent participate in a four week parent education training. These classes take the place of the child's first 4 weeks of lessons. Additionally, each quarter parents will be expected to participate in a parent group class for ongoing training and moral support. (Parents who are transferring from another Suzuki studio may be excused from the four week parent training on a case by case basis.)
Students are responsible for learning the notes, fingerings and rhythms by first listening and later by listening AND reading the music. Please don't interfere with your child's exploration as they learn to learn by ear! You may ask questions and encourage but do not teach them the notes by “rote” or “watch and copy” or any other method unless I specifically give you an assignment to do so. Allowing the students this independence in learning is incredibly important in maintaining their curiosity and motivation.
I love the Suzuki method because it facilitates one-on-one time between the parent and child as the parent attends lessons and helps with daily practicing. I hope you take advantage of this quality time together! I look forward to being a part of your child's musical experience.