Questions About Cello Lessons
What is the best age to start?
Generally speaking, the younger the better. Children could start taking early childhood music classes when they are born! By the age of 3 or 4, they are normally ready for individual instrument lesson.
The biggest question here is: are the parents ready? Taking your child to music lessons is one of the best gifts you can give them, but it does take time and commitment from the parents. If you are unsure about this, please contact me for a chat.
How to prepare my child for cello lessons?
Listen to the Suzuki Cello book 1 repertoire everyday. The more your child listens the more quickly he/she will learn, and the more beautifully he/she will play someday. Play it softly in the background and be sure you listen, too.
Take your child to short children’s concerts and always demonstrate that music is important in your home.
In order to prepare yourself for the time when you will need to practice daily with your child, it would be extremely helpful if you could set aside a small amount of time every day to do an activity together, for example, reading, painting or doing a puzzle.
Read the books “Nurtured By Love” and “Ability Development from Age Zero” by Shinichi Suzuki as these are the foundations of the Suzuki approach and very interesting reads.
If you are eager to start but your child is not ready yet, why not start to take lessons yourself! Many Suzuki parents start taking lessons to be able to help their child better for future practice and also to make their child interested in the instrument. Dr. Suzuki himself used this approach with his students and raved about it.themselves! If your child isn’t ready for a turn yet, the teacher may invite the parent to have a turn. This can help the child to feel ready.
What’s the main benefit of learning cello through the Suzuki method?
The Suzuki Method is not intended to be a training ground for professional musicians. The fact that an increasing number of the world’s top musicians studied with Suzuki method is a tribute to the method’s ability to teach, but not its actual intention. The goal of Dr Suzuki was to enrich people’s lives and make them more understanding and sensitive human beings.
How do I know if my child has musical talent?
The Suzuki Method fundamental philosophy is that every child can be educated. Talent in children is a skill that develops over time. Every child has the ability to speak their mother tongue, as long as they have the opportunity to be introduced to this language from an early age (even in the womb!). Developing musical talent is no different. If parents believe in the ability of their child, and if they provide the support and proper environment to learn, their child will develop their talent to play an instrument gradually.
How do we decide which instrument to learn?
For young children, you as a parent can determine which instrument you would like your child to learn unless he/she demonstrates a keen interest in a particular instrument of their choice. It is suggested that you attend a concert where your child can be exposed to a variety of instruments.
The energy necessary for daily practicing with a child is easier if the parent is motivated. Suzuki often points out in his writing that a good learning environment helps the child’s learning ability. If you love listening to your favourite instrument every day, your child will likely enjoy it too.
Where do I purchase a cello?
I recommend that you start lessons before purchasing or renting a cello. A poor quality instrument could affect your learning.
Also, there are different sizes for children and adults so we need to check which size instrument is best for the child’s body and age.
The Sydney String Centre has a good selection of instruments of all sizes and a rental program that could be a good option to start. Click here for more information.
Why do I need to be present at a Suzuki cello lesson?
One of the unique aspects of the Suzuki Method is the direct involvement of parents in their child’s education. It is required that you attend the lessons. You are the best teacher for your child and your presence is key to develop their interest in learning. During our classes, you will learn how to create a proper learning environment in your home, the basic technique of the cello, and how to practice effectively with your child. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be an expert! Most often, parents that are not musicians tend to be really good Suzuki parents!
Can I bring siblings to a lesson?
It’s really your decision. I have no rule against siblings attending lessons. However, most parents find it easier to focus on the lesson if there are no distractions. It’s also lovely for the child to have their parent’s undivided attention for a few minutes! In group lessons, siblings are often present and parents take them out of the room if necessary.
Why do we have to listen to the CD every day?
Children learn to speak by listening and imitating the language spoken around them. By listening to the Suzuki recordings as well as listening to other music, children absorb the language of music just as they absorb the sounds of their mother tongue. Constant listening to music performed with beautiful tone provides children with a role model for their playing.
Learning to play the cello is as much a physical process as it is an auditory one. Listening to the pieces your child is currently playing and upcoming pieces is part of daily practice and is just as important as practicing their instrument. Listen to the recordings in the car on the way to school, as you are eating an after school snack before practicing and sometimes before bed. They will get stuck in your head, and that is a good thing! This will make learning new pieces easier.
When a young child learns new words, they don’t master them and never say them again. They repeat them over and over and become a part of the child’s vocabulary. The Suzuki pieces should be acquired in the same way. Repetition is the mother of skill and the key to retention. The choice of music included in the Suzuki repertoire is strategic. Each piece builds on the ones that came before, preparing students for difficulties ahead. The skills learned and polished in these pieces need consistent repetition so that they become natural and easy.
Why do we need to attend a group class?
Playing in a group is a large part of the Suzuki method’s magic. Dr. Suzuki believed that beginning ensemble playing from an early age not only made for better musicians, but also better people who know how to interact with others and exist in a group. With a common repertoire this becomes possible and our group classe are time to play with friends, explore the music and have fun with musical games too! Please make an effort and include group classes in your calendar.
When do you begin reading music?
The Mother-Tongue approach recognizes that reading music follows the acquisition of good technical and musical skills just as reading a language is learnt after a child can speak fluently. The stage at which the child begins to learn reading music varies according to age and general development. It is important in the early stages that the auditory senses are fully developed before the visual senses begin to dominate the learning process. Children who read music too soon often don’t listen well to tone, pitch and musicality. Suzuki students are taught to read music, however, it will always be after basic playing skills have been mastered.
What do I do if my child had an injury and cannot play?
If your child has an injury (for example, a sprained wrist) and can’t play but is otherwise in good spirits, please do bring them to their lesson. We will find something to work on!
Which materials are necessary?
Cello, bow, rosin, cello endpin stopper and cleaning cloth: Students should come prepared to each lesson with their instrument in acceptable playing condition and the desire to learn!
Stool/Chair: Although I do have stools and chairs in my studio, you should have a cello stool/chair at home at the appropriate height for your child. This is very important and I am happy to help you in finding the right stool.
Suzuki CD/mp3/SoundCloud App: You will also be advised to have the Suzuki repertoire we are working on and to find a way to listen to it every day. This could be in your car, in the kitchen during meal times, in your child’s bedroom so they can listen to it while playing, studying or before bedtime.
Suzuki books and other technique books as I determine necessary: Please, in respect to book authors, photocopied books in place of a purchased printed book is not acceptable.
Notebook and camera for parents: Parents need a notebook for taking notes during class and a camera or mobile phone for making videos. This is a very effective way to understand the tasks for practice when at home.
Cello Workbook: This is a material that I have made specially for my cello students and it is a companion guide to be used in class and at home.
Binder or folder: For music sheets, handouts and a copy of the Welcome Letter.
Pencil: Make sure you always have a pencil in your cello case and do not use a pen for making notes in your music sheet.
For home practice: students need a music stand, a mirror, a tuner and a metronome (from Book 2 onwards).
Making the most of your cello lesson
Arrive early: Plan to arrive a few minutes early. Arriving a little before provides time for your child to settle in to the musical environment. If the teacher is in another lesson, you may come in and watch quietly.
No distractions: I do request that toys, juice cups and food be kept out of sight, and that snacks be finished prior to the lesson. Also, be sure your child has used the toilet before the lesson begins.
Go barefoot: Please remove shoes when you enter the studio and make sure your child is dressed in non-restrictive clothing so that we can move freely during our lesson.
Turn your mobile phone off: Please turn off all mobile phones in the studio as they disturb the flow of the lesson. You may use your phone to record activities.
Be focused and patient: During the lesson, the most important thing you can do for your child is to be a patient role model. When you are a present, focused, enthusiastic participant, your child will model your actions and focus more fully too. And, as hard as this may be to you, please do not interrupt the lesson with comments about your child’s behaviour unless the teacher asks you to do so. Your child only needs one teacher at a time.
Take notes: Make sure you take notes during the lesson and that they are clear and specific for home practice. Any questions that you may have, please keep them to the end so to not interrupt the flow of the lesson.
Know the secret!: The secret to a successful cello lesson is a good practice week. Don’t be discouraged for a week of not much practice (please come to the lesson anyway!), but try to make that an exception and not the rule. Frequent practice is key for musical development and enjoyment in the lesson.
Questions About Music & Giggles - Early Childhood Music
Why start so young?
Researches show that early musical training can produce long-lasting changes in behaviour and on brain development. Most babies are born ready to hear and process music and to learn through it. They are biologically hard wired to engage and interact musically with you. By starting young, we are capitalising on a period of brain development when your baby, toddler and preschooler is soaking up all the information and sounds around them.
Early childhood music classes will develop your child’s cognitive development, their literacy and language skills, their mathematical and logical thinking, a healthy social-emotional development, their fine and gross motor skills and their ability to express themselves through music.
While it is never too late to start, I believe that the earlier the better: the longer a child is in a music program, the more profound the learning and skill development.
How many students per class?
There is a maximum of 10 students per class. Classes are small and calm so your child can learn best.
Why do your classes have a wider age grouping?
Babies and toddlers learn a lot from each other in a positive environment. This is how children often experience life in a family setting and gives them the opportunity for age appropriate social development.
Each child participates at their own level and in their own way. The older children inspire the younger ones with their advanced development, while the younger members give the older children the opportunity to develop sensitivity to the needs of the little ones.
What if my child doesn’t want to have a turn?
Most children will take some time to participate in class and that is perfectly normal. When your child is ready, he/she will express the desire to have a turn. They learn just as much by watching and listening as they do by having a turn themselves! If your child isn’t ready for a turn yet, the teacher may invite the parent to have a turn. This can help the child to feel ready.
What if my child won't sit still?
This is completely normal and is expected from a little child that is joining a new music class! Each class follows a basic pattern of sitting and moving activities, you and your child will learn this pattern over the course of a term or so. Follow the gentle directions from the teacher and don’t worry too much, you are probably more aware of your child’s behaviour than anyone else in the class. The more you engage in the class and model behaviour to your child, more they will be eager to participate. Remember, even if they “seem” not interested, they are in a learning environment and are able to absorb the experience.
What do I do if my child is upset or disruptive?
If your child becomes upset or disruptive during a class, I suggest you take him/her out for a moment until they have a chance to calm down. If you are not sure if your child’s behaviour is problematic, please ask me before or after class.
I have two children. Can they come to the same class?
Sometimes a parent chooses to attend with two children – often a toddler and baby, occasionally twins. I don’t have a strict rule against this providing both children are enrolled, but I don’t necessarily recommend it. The children are far more focused and benefit much more when they each have one whole person to share the experience with. Parents also have a much more relaxing time with just the one child to attend to. Remember that, for some children, this is their only time alone with mum or dad, so it is a special time for your child.
How do I know if my child is enjoying the class?
Each child learns differently and the way they show enjoyment is different too. Some children will show us with their body language or the expression on their faces how excited and engaged they are, while others would prefer to be quieter and soak it all up until they are ready to try an activity themselves. It takes a lot of concentration for a little one to co-ordinate so many new things at the same time, so it is perfectly normal for your child to look serious in class – it shows how much they are learning!
Making the most of your Music & Giggles class
Arrive early: Plan to arrive about 5 minutes early for class. Arriving a little before class provides time for your child to settle into the musical environment as they prepare to enjoy exploring instruments, reading books, or listening to music. I do request that toys, juice cups, and pacifiers be kept out of sight, and that snacks be finished prior to class.
Go barefoot!: I would like you and your child to participate in class without your shoes on! Feet are the most nerve-rich parts of the human body, which means they contribute to the building of neurological pathways in the brain.
Turn your mobile phone off! I kindly request parents/carers to turn mobile phones to vibrate or off during class and if an emergency call needs to be taken, it can be done outside the classroom so as to not disturb the class.
Be an active and patient role model: During class, the most important thing you can do for your child is to be an active and patient role model. Sing, dance, play, listen, and participate fully in every activity! When you are an active, focused, enthusiastic participant in the class activities, your child will model your actions and focus more fully too.
Sing! You are your child’s best teacher and they love to listen to your voice! It is a fact that babies learn to recognise the parents’ voices long before they learn to recognise their faces. Hearing the parents’ voice creates a familiar, safe situation for children. Don’t worry if you think you don’t have a beautiful singing voice, for your child your voice is the most precious sound. Sing in class, sing at home, sing in the car… Sing along!
Respect your child’s pace: Most children will take some time to participate in class and that is perfectly normal. Don’t be discouraged- what a child is absorbing in class is often evidenced in the comfort of the home environment rather than in a certain participation in class. The understanding and consistency of the parent or caregiver in class is key to facilitating musical learning and growth.
Create a calm and quiet environment: A calm and quiet environment is important for your child’s learning. Please avoid ‘bombarding’ your child with frequent verbal instructions; rather, allow them space to observe and listen.
Non-verbal activities: Some of the things we do in class are non-verbal, to encourage auditory awareness and observation skills. Please avoid the temptation to ‘translate’ into words or ‘commentate’ on what’s happening.
Keep focused: Please remember that parents ‘chatting’ (even quietly) during or between activities is VERY DISTRACTING for the children, teachers and other parents.
Listen to our playlist on SoundCloud!: By listening to the Music & Giggles playlist at home, you extend your child’s musical learning and their engagement in class. Listen to it, over and over again!