Today’s guest post is by music educator and mom Julie Zorn.
I am a music teacher of children ages infants – 8th grade. My job is to instill a love of music in the 1500+ kids that I see weekly and to give them as many musical tools as I can possibly squeeze into their brains.
Here’s the thing though. I am also the parent of two very musical children who participate in an excellent music program in their public school, take guitar lessons and soon-to-be drum lessons and participate in every musical/talent show/performance of any kind that they can.
Here are a couple of pictures of my talented little future rock stars:
Sometimes I am confronted, as all parents are, with choices of which extracurricular activities to sign my children up for. As a music teacher, I want to sign them up for the hottest trends in music, but as a parent, I want to make them as well-rounded as I possibly can. So, my kids also participate in karate classes, basketball leagues, pottery classes and learning how to finally ride their bicycles without training wheels.
Recently, both of my children took guitar classes that were taught in the style of the Suzuki method. In my town, this one particular music school has an excellent reputation, and most of the families I know who use the school are thrilled with the results. Of course, I was ecstatic when my kids expressed an interest in playing guitar, and I immediately signed them up for lessons.
For those of you who don’t know about the Suzuki method, the basic concept is that music is taught in the same style of a young child who’s learning a new language. They learn effortlessly through imitation, listening and repetition. “The founder of the Suzuki method, Dr. Sinichi Suzuki, was the son of Japan’s first and largest violin manufacturer. ” According to the Suzuki website, though he was surrounded by music from the time he was very young, he never learned to play the instrument until the age of 22. Once accomplished, he eventually taught violin to a colleague’s son and came up with the philosophy “Character first, ability second.” To learn more about the Suzuki method, check out suzukimusic.org’s “history” page.
In the case of the Suzuki school in my own town, this philosophy translates to mean that the young students don’t actually learn to read music until much later in the game. They learn how to play their instruments by developing their auditory skills first.
As a music teacher, my feeling about the Suzuki method is “more power to them!” Any kid that learns how to play an instrument and can grow up with the skill and knowledge of music is a wonderful thing.
As a parent, however, the Suzuki method was not the right choice for us. Learning how to read music at an early age was a good way to also assist my children with learning how to read the letters in the alphabet. I am a believer that their early music theory greatly influenced the success in their school work.
I am certain that a Suzuki-trained child will learn how to play musical instruments proficiently and perhaps better than non-Suzuki-trained musicians. For my family, however, we were looking for a different skill set.
Recently, my children have begun guitar classes with a new teacher. This teacher encouraged us to buy an electric guitar for my kids to learn on in order to get them excited about the instrument. So, I now have tiny versions of Eddie Van Halen and Ann and Nancy Wilson living in my house. Only time will to tell to see if this new and super cool philosophy of teaching works. Until then, my kids will be practicing after they finish their school work and karate classes, and I feel confident that their broad range of skills will stay with them for years to come.Julie Zorn is a Tucson music teacher and songleader and teaches infants through 8th grade both secular and non-secular music, basic music theory and vocal music performance. She is a graduate from the University of Arizona and holds an Early Childhood Education certification from UCLA. She is a two-time recipient of the Gerald and Marion Gendell Excellence in Jewish Education Award and is the proud mother of her two children, Haley and Dylan. Julie and her husband, who is also a music specialist, perform children’s music throughout the Tucson community. Julie writes a daily “song of the day” blog called “The Tucson Songstress,” and her newest blog endeavor, “Top 10 Tuesdays,” provides weekly musical activities for parents to promote music education in the home. Visit at www.tucsonsongstress.com.