The foundation for any relationship is good communication! As adults we learn from our experience with our spouse or partner, or with lifelong friends about how to sustain a lasting relationship or friendship through discussion and expressing both our negative and positive feelings. Certainly there is no shortage of articles on this topic in the media!
In the Suzuki Method good communication ensures that parents and teachers can work together for the benefit and happiness of the child.
A happy child feels secure and loved. She can trust that the adults around her will take care of her needs and protect her from harm. She knows that if a mistake is made the adult will say ‘It’s ok- let’s just try it again!’ and she learns to independently recognise how to identify problems and work through them. She enjoys the process of identifying challenges in learning and then successfully practicing difficult passages until they become easy with many repetitions. There is great satisfaction in the process. At first this is through interventions of the teacher and the guidance of the parent at home practice but eventually she can do this on her own.
An unhappy child feels uncertain about the response of the adults in his life. He is never sure if he is good enough and fears making mistakes. During the lesson he keeps looking at the parent for approval and has difficulty focusing on the teacher’s input. He is afraid to answer questions from the teacher in case the answer is ‘wrong’ and the parent will be angry. His mind is not on the problem solving aspect of the mistakes made and correction through repetition, but on his fear of whether the adults in his life will still love him when he makes mistakes. Anxiety hinders the learning processes of practice and repetition and so too does irritated comments or nonverbal sounds that show disapproval. Certainly this takes away the joy of learning an instrument!!
I’m sure all parents and teachers wish for happy children!
What we can do as PARENTS:
- SHOW your love through your actions and careful use of language. Be aware of how important your presence and your attitude is to your child. During the lesson let the teacher teach- give your full attention to the lesson and take written notes, video and audio as needed. Your teacher is showing you how to practice at home while teaching and there are many clues and details. Do your best to record everything and write down questions if something isn’t clear to ask at the end of the lesson. Become equipped to help your child practice over the remaining 6 days.
- RESPECT the teacher. The teacher has been trained and shares knowledge/ skills during the lesson time. Most teachers are happy to help outside of the lesson but the means (whatsapp/ email/ phone calls) and time of day/ week to communicate with the teacher should be discussed ahead so that there are no misunderstandings.
What we can do as TEACHERS:
- Ensure that communication is clear and ongoing. Since the teacher has the training and experience she needs to take the initiative to remind the parent of their role during lessons and home practice. Teachers can give nonverbal cue for silence during the lesson (child can concentrate and get the most benefit) ‘kindly take notes on this / video/ audio on this point’ ‘please repeat these 2 bars 5x daily’ (clear instructions so the child/parent can practice well) ‘let’s discuss this later’ (avoid discussing difficulties in front of the child) reminders of parent meetings, events and deadlines.
- RESPECT the parent. The parent knows their child best and parent input and suggestions regarding learning styles, home routines and ability to deal with challenge and change is very valuable for teachers when formulating the practice schedule and Suzuki activities of the child.
The partnership of parent/ teacher is a cornerstone of the Suzuki Method and good communication ensures the happiness of the child- let’s work together!!