This year, I am honored to have a growing number of adult women taking lessons. I am also teaching teaching open lessons at the Shepherd’s House, and have a couple of enthusiastic men beginning as well. For about a year, when an adult came for lessons, I used a method written for adults. Yet, the methods written for adults fell flat. Over and over again, I’d get a student to just about page 60, and, well, they had to stop. Practicing became too time consuming, note-reading too laborious and frustrating, facility in their fingers was not up to par with their reading ability or visa versa, and when a curve-ball headed their way, they couldn’t handle that curve ball and keep going with lessons when the lessons themselves stopped being rewarding.
I mulled over the options, analyzing the situation from all sides. Adults have so many interruptions to their ‘me’ time. We experience multiple responsibilities in various spheres of life: family, career, house, finances. Inevitably, something has to give, and when an adult stops lessons, it is usually because one of these areas of life becomes difficult. Yet, we grown-ups need the diversion of beautiful music perhaps more than children, to balance out all those responsibilities with pure enjoyment. Playing, practicing and learning should be as enjoyable for the adult as it is for the child. I decided to abandon the adult methods, and this year I am using the Suzuki method with all my students, regardless of their age or stage in life. If I were a genius or a more masterful teacher, maybe I could make one of those other methods work for my students.
I am not a genius nor a master, but Dr. Suzuki was both. I can trust that the principles that he set forth and spent his life sharing with families the world over will work for all my students. Though the method is designed for children, it works with all because the learning doesn’t ever have to be beyond the reach of the student: These principles involve small steps at the student’s pace, gentle encouragement from the teacher and coach, a common repertoire, emphasis on posture and technique, delayed note reading, a lot of listening and review, review, review, to name a few.
I place myself and my students at the service of these principles and together we are learning: I am growing as a teacher, and ALL my students are learning to play beautifully.
I have the best job in the world.