Suzuki Violin Method
Community Music School
Suzuki Violin Method
The Suzuki Violin Method holds as a central truth that every child can become proficient at music making, no matter the level of natural raw talent. This is possible due to the fundamental truth that all of us have the ability to learn how to speak our own mother-tongue. The Suzuki Method invites us to approach the language of music on the violin in the same manner.
Your teacher, Josh Weesner, will often refer to the idea that "if you can sing it, you can play it." As the fundamental technical challenges of playing the violin are overcome, students begin to make great and quick strides. With careful listening, practice, patience, and repetition, the language of music can begin to have a voice through the four strings of the violin.
The cornerstone of Suzuki Violin instruction is one-on-one instruction where the teacher, student, and parent review material presented from week to week from the Suzuki Method books, scales, and other study material to solidify the young violinist’s technique and musical understanding. Each student’s strengths and weaknesses are pinpointed in private lessons to achieve maximum direction towards the goal of proficiency on each musical assignment through daily practice.
“Pre-twinkle” refers to new beginners who are learning the basics of posture, holding the violin and the bow, how to stand and bow to an audience and the teacher, with the end goal of being able to play "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and five variations of the Twinkle Theme. Students learn the care of the instrument, the parts of the instrument, and the names and words that represent the rhythms of each variation.
In this class, we learn that the violin is the voice box and the bow is the air that is breathed over the strings that create the rhythm used to make these simple tunes happen.
In the group setting, students have the invaluable opportunity to see each other learn, and to learn from each other in success and failure. We play games that develop the ear for singing, as well as basic rhythmic training and technique on the violin.
There is also a great deal of parent education on the Suzuki Method in these classes. Parents must understand the invaluable educational role they play for the young musicians in their families. Parents are the practice partners for the students for a great deal of the time until the training wheels can begin to come off and students begin to be able to do much of the work on their own. Parents who have musical knowledge will have some advantages, but musical knowledge is not completely necessary.
Once students can play each of the five variations and the theme, they can graduate to the Book 1 group class.
The Suzuki Book 1 Group class is designed for students who have graduated from the Pre-Twinkle class, up through the end of Book 1.
In these classes, we will review all songs through the highest level of the first Suzuki Book. Each song presents its own distinct challenges, and though some students may get the overview of a particular song very quickly, others need to discover how their voice works through testing many approaches to solving the musical problem.
We play games that enhance the ability to overcome each of the challenges faced in each of the songs throughout the first book, with the idea that multiple ways of looking at each problem will eventually provide a solution.
Also in this class, we learn and review the three major scales that relate to all of the songs in the book. We review technique and the good habits that must be present for a solid foundation in order for the student to progress in their capabilities and move on to bigger challenges.
One of the most wonderful treasures in a student’s early development is found slightly beyond the halfway point of Suzuki Method Book 1, when students first play violin pieces by J. S. Bach.
In these group classes, students perform pieces that they have learned and polished for their peers. They will also participate in playing together as a group, learning harmony parts and developing the skills that it takes to both follow their teacher who serves as a conductor and each other so that they will play together in time and intonation.
Books 2, 3 and beyond
Much like the Book 1 Class, students play together and play for each other. In this class we begin new scales that relate to songs in these more advanced books, as well as some further technical skills like vibrato and trills, and bow techniques for tone production and articulation that have not been previously acquired. These are skills first covered in private lessons, but it is very helpful and motivating for students to see their musical peers progress and learn how they are learning.
The Suzuki Method at the UNCSA Community Music School is a community program. The students in the program are learning privately, but they also learn in group settings.
The program includes regular performance opportunities for students in the form of studio-wide recitals. Recitals feature both group and solo performances. Each student has the opportunity to play their polished pieces for friends and family, as well as to play within the group for a designated set of review pieces from the books in reverse chronological order.
Fall Term and Spring Term recitals conclude with receptions for the students, their families, and friends. These receptions and the group classes build a community of parents and students. Here they have the opportunity to discuss issues that their children are having in their development, share congratulations, and get involved with each other in an interpersonal manner. This strengthens the shared learning goals of studio as it builds a strong close-knit community, but it is also great for the social development of the students. Their violinist friends from Suzuki classes will be people they remember for the rest of their lives, and hopefully continue music making with as they develop in their level of musicianship. Suzuki students are uniquely prepared to excel in ensemble settings such as school or community orchestra programs because of this group experience built in to their study from a young age.