Pre Suzuki for Siblings

Suzuki violin lessons typically begin between the ages of two an three years old. Starting a strings program any earlier could not be possible because of the physiological development necessary to simply hold a violin and because the attention span of such a young child is extremely limited. We started our daughter when she was two in a formal Suzuki violin program. However, we did not begin to see her truly playing with fingers until she was four. Now with our second child we've begun a sort of informal pre Suzuki program we have developed ourselves.

What initially drew me to Suzuki was the belief in the ability of the small child. Although, the formal strings program cannot begin until at least two years of age, a pre Suzuki program can begin essentially when a baby is still in the womb. There is very little research on the link between what a baby hears in the womb and later musical understanding or connection, but there has been enough buzz within the academic community that it has its own terminology in mainstream culture: "The Mozart Effect." People know there is some link, but not exactly how to use this information to positively effect their children.

With our second child we stumbled on this "Mozart Effect" really. Our daughter was just beginning her Suzuki instruction when I was pregnant. We were only listening to the first book so as to completely inundate her with the music we hoped she would learn to play someday. We had begun practicing the rhythms and bow holds. My husband and I read Suzuki's numerous books and began to truly become a "Suzuki" home. The philosophy began to transform our parenting and the music began to sharpen our hearing for the beauty of the violin. By six months of age our son was soothed to sleep by the twinkles. By a year of age he could hum the twinkles in perfect tune and soap his arm to the music. By eighteen months he could hold the violin, bow, and count in Japanese. He had also started humming lightly row correctly and was developing a strong ear for the violin. At one of my daughters stings recital's we actually had to remove him from the audience when he became extremely upset by the cello playing "Lightly Row" because he thought it sounded wrong played in the lower sound of the cello.

His love for the violin developed quite naturally in much the fashion Suzuki describes. What I learned and hope to instill more purposefully in our third son's Suzuki education is that it's never to early to really begin a Suzuki program and the way to have the most success is to make it a natural part of your home and education from the beginning. It will make formal instruction much more successful and become the nurturing environment Suzuki writes about in "Nurtured by Love."