The Suzuki Method focuses mainly on children, and tends to focus on starting children at a very young age, but I would like to emphasize that people at ANY age, including adults, can learn to play violin! I would also like to explain why there is an advantage to starting at age 4.
A Bit About Early Childhood Development
inspired/paraphrased by a ‘Parents as Partners’ lecture by Ed Sprunger
Age 3: Usually the minimum age to begin formal lessons. You can start at age 3 but you must realize that what you are really teaching is boundaries along with the basic set up of how to play violin. 3 year olds are learning who is in control. They are thinking, “Can I be in control? All the time?”. By getting into “trouble” or being “naughty” they are finding the boundaries and discovering right and wrong. The structure and routine of violin lessons and practicing daily can help teach these skills as well lay a solid foundation to learn the instrument. We must be careful at this age not to dominate the child in all interactions or else it will lead to the idea that “practice is going into battle”. We let the child make decisions by giving them the choice between 2 right choices. For example, “You get the choice to pick! Would you like to play ‘The Flower Song’ or sing ‘Up like a Rocket’? And of course, we make learning as fun as possible.
Age 4: A great age to start violin lessons. At this age, the child has learned more about boundaries and can be more successful at developing skills right away. There is a phase around this age where kids are all about, “Look what I can do!”. This is awesome because they really want to play the instrument and show off their skills. Practicing and going to lessons is fun and not a chore. At this age, we can focus on developing their violin skills but must be careful that the focus isn’t on “fixing what’s wrong”. It’s all about positive reinforcement. We approach development in a way that doesn’t take away from the joy of what they CAN do and what they think they can do. This builds confidence and a love of playing violin!
Age 4-5: There is a phase somewhere around age 4-5 where kids discover how little they are compared to adults and bigger kids. They may get discouraged when they realize, “Uh, oh! I’m not very big or powerful”. We must give them hope! Keeping up the positive comments and fun activities in practice and lessons is key. Dr. Suzuki said, “no hurry, no rest”. One of the keys to playing violin and the Suzuki method is that we enjoy the journey and remember that even if progress is slow, the child is learning a lot more than playing the instrument. All we have to do is keep going with the daily routine of practice! No matter how successful or unsuccessful each day’s practice is, those days add up to real results. Not only will your child learn violin, but we are developing their brains and skills in many different and beneficial ways. Kids are developing templates for their life!
Young children are asking lots of questions:
“What can I control and what can I not?”
“Is it possible to get joy out of life?”
“Am I capable of learning and growing?”
Music can be an answer to these questions and more.
School Age: If your child wants to try out the violin any age is a great age to start! Kids that can already read have an advantage because they can start learning music theory right away. A motivated child at this age can make lots of progress while having lots of fun. Group lessons are a great way to play with their friends and enjoy a sense of community. Learning an instrument is a great way for kids to connect with real life and get away from screen time or bad influences. Violin is challenging and it will give your child a sense of pride as they make measurable progress. Daily practice will keep them grounded and making music will always be a positive influence in their life. Children learn to set goals, work hard, and gain confidence that they are capable of accomplishing great things. They feel talented and special because not just anyone can play violin! The brain power developed by learning violin carries over into adulthood in a myriad of positive ways.
Adults: No matter what your age or experience with music, you CAN learn to play violin. There is no age limit! Adults often think that if they didn’t learn an instrument as a child, that it is “too late”. This is most definitely FALSE. If you would like to try the violin, I would be happy to help you learn. If you have a child that is also learning, it is really fun to learn and play along with them. You can practice together at home and help teach each other! Fun bonding times! One of my favorite things in the world is teaching and playing with my daughters. Or maybe you have always wanted to learn but never had the time. Now that you are older, you have more time! Yes, it takes many years of dedicated practice to learn how to play the violin well. But you will find, if you fall in love with the instrument, that the journey is beautiful and rewarding. I am also happy to help you learn whatever type of music interests you — Classical, rock, jazz, bluegrass, Celtic, etc.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your trial lesson!