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Principles of Sowing and Reaping for the Suzuki Parent: Working for the Future Harvest

Harvesting

A harvest always comes after a lot of work. It comes after seasons of sowing and tending. Sometimes these seasons are intensely long and tiring. Acquiring musical skill and ability has continued to defy our love for the fast, easy, and convenient.

One of the wonderful things about skill development is that it gets easier. I think the sowing and reaping process builds on itself. As Dr. Suzuki aptly stated, “Ability builds on ability.” As a student develops ability, it gets easier to develop more. The harvest compounds. And, if you have a vision of what the future could hold, it can give you motivation for the present.

Let’s examine some of the things that you and your child could harvest in the future.

Love

Imagine your child as an adult and possessing a love of music and deep enjoyment in playing music. Think of them having a love of learning because they had a positive and engaging learning experience in Suzuki lessons.

Think of your child fondly treasuring the good and tough memories of lessons and practices with you. The relationship between you both forged through your Suzuki study. Down the road, your child will have memories of receiving your undivided attention during practices.

I have many wonderful memories of getting a milkshake or french fries on our drive home from lessons growing up. My mom was willing to spend an entire afternoon taking my sister and I to lessons, commuting 45 minutes each way. [My mom thought the drive was worth it for us to study with an excellent teacher.] I treasure that love and sacrifice now. And I love the memories.

Character

Visualize the potential discipline and character that this process of learning an instrument could produce. Imagine your child with sensitivity, tenacity, perseverance, the ability to break down complex problems, and a willingness to tackle difficult things. Imagine a shy child learning to stand up and give the gift of music to others.

Children are capable of extraordinary things and being extraordinary people.

As Dr. Suzuki said, “Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline, and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.”

That beautiful heart is a beautiful harvest in the future.

Artistry

Great artistry and excellent musical skill is possible from an early age. It may or may not come easily, but it can come. This artistry in children is truly amazing and inspiring. 

Would you care to see some Suzuki students performing their review pieces with sensitivity, emotion, and artistry? Take 5 minutes and watch this preview of the Kaleidoscope Concert featuring Suzuki students who performed at the 2012 SAA national conference.

A Priceless Gift

Growing up, my parents viewed music lessons as part of a well-rounded education. It was part of their educational gift to me and my siblings. We all reaped the harvest of these positive experiences and educational development through music. But in a way, it was so much more than a scholastic experience or something to add to our college admission essays.

As you give your child a rich musical experience, you are not only adding a dimension to their education, you are ultimately adding a dimension to their personhood. You are allowing them to personally participate in an artistic avenue of self-expression. What a privilege.

When your child makes music, they are engaging in a uniquely human, creative, and expressive experience. They are not just passively taking something in, they are actively creating sound that translates to communicating meaning.

These experiences of creating and communicating sound and meaning, have intrinsic value whether or not your child becomes a professional musician. It’s part of what makes us human. These musical experiences are a priceless gift. And being able to play an instrument as an adult is a priceless gift.

I can almost guarantee that your six year old child will not thank you for the love, expense, and sacrifice of a musical experience. That's a harvest well in the future.

And it's your child's harvest to reap. 

If you look many years to the future, is this harvest worth the sowing? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.

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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