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Principles of Sowing and Reaping for the Suzuki Parent: Tending Your Crops - Ideas for Continued Growth

Principles of Tending


As a Suzuki parent, maybe you can relate more with a time of tending. You are further along in the
Suzuki journey and you have seedlings or young plants that are growing. This may primarily be a season of watering, fertilizing, pruning, and nurturing your budding young musician.

Water Often

Facilitating and fueling your child’s continued growth and motivation is an important parental job at this stage. One way to encourage your child’s motivation is to attend concerts. As a child, I loved watching other children play and especially enjoyed going to concerts. I would always be inspired to practice after these events.

Sometimes recitals and concerts were a special date with my Mom or Dad. I will never forget the first time my Dad took me to see Yo-Yo Ma perform. The evening fueled my relationship with my cello, but also created a wonderful memory with my dad.

There is a payoff for the time and motivation instilled from an evening at the symphony or attending a recital. This feeds the growing musician. Yes, it takes extra effort and time. And yes, it’s absolutely necessary.

A Good Dose of Fertilizer

Attending a Suzuki Institute also has tremendous motivational results for any student. An institute is usually a week long event with lessons, group classes, masterclasses, recitals, and fun social events. The impetus from this intensively fun and motivating experience often produces amazing forward traction. This is one of those unique moments on your musical journey where you can truly feel tangible results quickly!

I saw my first cello at the age of three at a Suzuki institute. I was a tag along younger sibling with my sisters who were attending for violin and piano. From that point onward, I wanted to play cello. Never underestimate how a Suzuki institute might inspire one or more of your children.

Cross Pollinate and Prune

Within the Suzuki method, private lessons and group classes form a unique tongue and groove relationship. A private lesson and group class serve different educational functions, but each one is equally important for a well-rounded musician.

If your teacher offers group classes, make attending a priority. These classes offer the opportunity for your child to learn new skills, review literature, gain confidence, have fun, and learn from their peers. Group classes provide a unique opportunity for your child to have social experiences and build friendships with other young musicians. 

Group classes can also assist in helping children naturally correct themselves, as Ed Sprunger points out in his book, Helping Parents Practice. A student must have flexibility to be able to play songs with a group. Group classes not only nurture motivation, but they can have a positive, self-correcting effect for students. Group classes then offer a fun and less painful way for natural and healthy pruning.

Apply Weed Killer

You may need to watch for negative influences or fears that could inhibit your child’s growing sense of ownership or confidence on their instrument. A student may need help to work through a fear of performing; they may need help processing experiences in competitions or auditions. This is where a parent or teacher can help the student think through and weed out inhibiting negative thoughts that could be detrimental in the future.

Keep on keeping on.

Guest post written by Kathleen Bowman. Kathleen is a performer and Suzuki cello teacher based in Saratoga Springs, NY. You can find out more about her on her website.

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