A Checklist of Considerations for Parents
Dr. Suzuki's concept of using the "mother tongue" approach to violin or viola instruction draws some beautiful and meaningful parallels, one of which I chose to share here.
Dr. Suzuki reminds parents about the period of time when their child was first learning to speak. At this stage in a child's life, parents would never dream of limiting the number of times it takes their child to learn a new word. A mother would never say, "I have repeated the word 'Mama' over one thousand times already. My child should know it by now. I will not say it anymore." Instead, a mother will patiently and enthusiastically repeat the word until the child learns to speak it. Parents' elation for the child's success is spontaneous and genuine. The task of teaching their child the new word never felt like a chore.
In the same way, it would be unfair to expect a child to learn a new skill, particularly skills as complex as those required to play a stringed instrument, within a set frame of time or after a set number of repetitions. Instead, a child will learn a new skill as the child is ready. For that reason, I would ask parents to monitor themselves. Although you may tire of hearing the Twinkles (or whatever the current exercise might be), never let your child experience your boredom or annoyance. Never give your child the indication that you want him or her to move on to something new. If your child hasn't moved on, it is simply because he or she is not ready.
1.) Do you and your child listen to the Suzuki recordings often?
2.) Do you observe carefully and take detailed notes during lessons so that you can guide your child's practice at home?
3.) Is practicing part of your daily routine, even if only a small amount of time is possible?
4.) Does your child pratice after lessons, or at least discuss the lesson with you on the ride home?
5.) Are both parents supportive of your child's efforts at home?
6.) Do you take your child to concerts?
7.) Do you show enthusiasm consistently?
8.) What is the ratio of praise to criticism in your comments to your child?
9.) Are you positive about practicing, or does your attitude suggest it is a chore?
10.) Are you constantly thinking creatively to help motivate your child during practicing slumps?
Please consider these questions carefully. It is so important for parents to understand that children model themselves to a minute degree after the example set by parents. Parents always want children to enjoy their musical experiences, yet sometimes forget that their own attitude might be the very thing souring their child's attitude. Reviewing these questions often will help ensure a happy and healthy experience for everyone involved.