Questions to Ask a Prospective Teacher

Choosing a Suzuki Teacher

In looking for a Suzuki teacher, you might be willing to trust the first person that says he/she is a Suzuki teacher. But what makes a good Suzuki teacher? Some people call themselves Suzuki teachers simply because they use the Suzuki materials. How can you tell the difference between this type of teacher and one who has taken the teacher training courses through the Suzuki system? Here are some questions to help you in your search for a qualified teacher.

“Are you a member of SAU (Suzuki Association of Utah)?”

You can confirm this with the SAU Membership Secretary or check the Teachers Directory. Note that not all teachers may be listed. Active members in SAU realize the value maintaining standards. SAU is a part of SAA (Suzuki Association of the Americas), which is dedicated to fostering the vision of Dr. Suzuki.

“How much teacher training have you had?”

Ask the teachers to describe their training. Did they take training with a Suzuki Teacher Trainer? Who was the Teacher Trainer? The first class that a person takes is called Every Child Can! and includes philosophy of the Suzuki movement. The remaining units correspond with the books. If teachers don’t understand what you are talking about, they probably haven’t had any training sponsored by the SAA.
Some teachers may say, “I grew up as a Suzuki kid” and think that that is enough. It is a great advantage to be a second generation player, but that doesn’t mean they understand the teaching points of each piece and the approach to skill building that is so vital in the Suzuki method.

“Do you have regular group lessons?”

The group lesson is the reinforcing element of the Suzuki method that children enjoy. A strong Suzuki program will emphasize the importance of group lessons at all levels. There are so many things that group lessons offer including the chance to try a new song and a time to listen to a future song “live” and watch how it is played. Group lessons also afford students a time to meet new people.

“Do you emphasize the importance of listening to the recordings?”

Listening is one thing that initially sets the Suzuki movement apart from all others. It is also the reason that children could be taught such difficult pieces at such a young age. The older Dr. Suzuki got, the more he emphasized listening until he got to the position in the last 5 years of his life where he said that listening was more important than practicing.

“Do you allow observers at your lessons?”

This gives you the opportunity to personally check the manner and skills of the teacher with others before you commit. There are some teachers who are more suited to younger students, and others who are better with more advanced. You may wish to talk with other parents using the teacher. The Suzuki method requires the successful coordination of the student, parent and teacher and you must be comfortable with each other.