So I have this really sweet gig where I homeschool my three boys from morning until 3:45 pm when my husband and I make a quick kid pass off at our home near Lincoln Park. I hop on my bike and ride approximately six minutes to CHAW where I have an amazing Suzuki Violin Studio of 22 students. My 4:00-6:30 pm each day is filled with the squeaks and squawks of 4 year olds eeking out Twinkle Twinkle Little Star mixed in with near perfection of a 5th grader playing Vivaldi’s Concerto in A minor. I love what I do. My six year old studies cello with another CHAWsome colleague of mine, Maggie Hummel. My four year old, violin with Dr. Megan Yanik, also at CHAW. Music education is as important as reading and math at our house. I make no apologies!
I believe that every child can learn and every child can be great. It’s called Talent Education. Don’t tell me music doesn’t run in your family, that you’re not musical, every child can! And I don’t teach music to children in hopes that they will major in violin performance at Juilliard. I teach because music is crucial to the core development of every human being. Shinichi Suzuki explained, “Music exists for the purpose of growing an admirable heart.”
The Suzuki Method is one of many comprehensive approaches to a whole music education. It is essentially a mother-tongue approach. A young child, preferably three to five years old is given an instrument and taught to play by ear. Music reading comes after two to three years of instruction. This is the same for babies and their language acquisition. They speak well by three or four years old, not because they can read written language, but simply because they have heard it their entire little lives and have learned to mimic. You’d be amazed at some of my four and five year old violinists mimicking their violin recordings, myself, and other violinists their parents find for them on YouTube with such beautiful intonation and musical expression! All this before they learn to read the black dots.
I see the close up and personal benefits of a quality music education in my young students and my own children. I live for the break through moments in a lesson when a six year old will actually close his eyes and get lost in the melodies of a Bach Minuet, his mother or father beaming with pride in a chair behind him, wondering how this boy is able to play such music when they can’t even stay on key with the church choir on Sundays. Reading speed and comprehension directly increases when a child learns to read written music. Children gain a sense of pride and accomplishment, confidence in being able to play classical music. They learn to present themselves to an audience at group classes, master classes, and recitals. Leaders, public speakers, and confident young people are born in practice rooms and music studios. Maybe it’s just me or just a few of us, but I hope that every parent can see that music education, in some form, is not only a fun extracurricular activity, it is a necessary part of a complete and whole education.
Join Sarah this summer for the String Fling!, a one-week string camp for students ages four to 12 running August 18 through 22, 2014. Students of all skill levels will experiences Suzuki method based instruction, ensembles, creative movement, theory and composition, and music games. Click here for more information!
Sarah Hanks, Teaching Artist