by Megan Graham
The Suzuki Triangle should not be confused with the Bermuda Triangle. Unlike the Bermuda Triangle where everybody gets lost, the Suzuki Triangle makes sure everybody stays on board and is equally confident in navigating the course ahead.
The Suzuki Triangle has three key participants: the teacher, the parent, and the student. The relationships among these participants must be cultivated and nurtured from the beginning of the musical journey. The relationship between me and my student develops organically over time; together we push and pull until we find our own way of relating to one another. There are sparks of playful creativity, happy accomplishment, and joyful playing between student and teacher. Learning to make music can be so much fun when student and teacher ‘click.’
From my perspective as a teacher, the parent is an essential partner in making each lesson successful. A parent’s work with the student throughout the week is a determining factor in the success of the next lesson. The parent is my ally and vice versa. If I do my job, I am able to translate the playful stories, practice cues and tips into tools that the parent can take home and integrate in to the practice routine for the other six days when I am not there. I consider the lesson even more successful when the parent and student are able to tell me how the ideas worked over the week and how they adapted to work for their home practice. I endeavour to raise both skillful students and skillful parents.
As a teacher, I am also well aware that practicing at home can be a challenge. The Suzuki Method puts a great responsibility on parents to be “at home teachers” for their children. Teachers know this job is not always easy. What do you do when your child refuses to practice? How do you get them to practice properly with the posture, bow hold, and intonation points that the teacher will evaluate at the next lesson? How do you handle your own frustration when the suggestion of practice precipitates a child’s meltdown on or off the instrument? What is the appropriate balance between work and play for your child’s music education, so they develop a love for music? And how on earth are you going to fit in practice every day with your already packed schedule and a tired child?
Fortunately, Ottawa Suzuki Strings has a wonderful community for support. Parents can talk to other parents about solutions to common challenges (everyone has been there!). Parents also have access to faculty members who have new ideas and innovative solutions (many of which have been passed along by past students and parents and other teachers).
For those parents who want to tap into an even broader community of support, the Suzuki Association of the Americas has a launched a fabulous program called, “Parents as Partners.” You can talk with your studio teacher about possibly doing this as a group, or register on your own. You do not have to be an SAA member to access this program. https://suzukiassociation.org/ parents-as-partners/ registration/
The Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA) has a lot of interesting free information on their website: https://suzukiassociation.org/