The Suzuki Method is the primary teaching philosophy that Meghan teaches. Dr. Shinichi Suzuki was a Japanese man who developed a method that would focus on cultivating the "whole person" through the vehicle of music, specifically the violin. Today, the Suzuki Method has been adapted so that many instruments can be taught using this same method.
What is the parent's role in helping their child learn to play the violin?
Parental involvement can be the key to helping a child succeed in learning to play the violin, but most importantly, in cultivating a love for music. Meghan typically requires a parent to be involved and present during their child's violin lessons, if the child begins at 12 years old or younger. Dr. Suzuki had the philosophy that "every child can;" meaning, every child can succeed in learning to play music, no matter what natural talents or abilities they may or may not have. The logic behind the philosophy is this: if a mother has a child, she expects that child to speak (unless the child has a physical handicap), yet our society does not typically expect every child to have the ability to speak the language of music. So, in order to teach a young child the "language," Meghan will first primarily teach the parent--only if the child is very young--so that the small child will want to mimic what their parent is doing, which gives the parent the tools to be able to teach their child at home; if a child is a little older, the parent will, naturally, learn much quicker than their child and will be able to guide their child at home based on what they have learned. Therefore, the student will learn from the studio teacher, as well as, from their "home teacher," a.k.a., their parent. This relationship between the parent, teacher and child is known as the "Suzuki Triangle;" so named for it's three equally important sides--if one does not fulfill it's role, then there will be added weight to those sides who are doing the work. Meghan is flexible with someone who is not a parent, but can handle the responsibilities of mentoring and teaching the child during the week, taking on the role that a parent or guardian would typically fill. Meghan will determine when a parent is not needed during the lessons; this is determined on a "case by case" basis. If your child is older than 12, and she feels that the parent is not needed in lessons, she will expect the parent to check-in on their child during the week to make sure they are practicing and encourage them as they strive to learn one of the most difficult instruments to play.
What should I expect to happen during weekly lessons?
Dr. Suzuki emphasized showing respect--to yourself, to your parents and teachers, as well as, to your friends and neighbors; therefore, Meghan begins and ends each lesson with her and the student and/or parent bowing to each other in order to show respect and trust to one another. Then, the student gets to playing; this is time that Meghan focuses on the pillars, as well as, the intricate details of playing the violin--these include: posture, tone, intonation, rhythm and much more! Unfortunately, the Suzuki Method has acquired a bad reputation in the United States, because of it's students often not being taught how to read notes or rhythm, however, this is not the case with Appassionato Strings; Meghan integrates music theory elements, such as note reading, rhythmic structure and musical terms, into the lesson times, so that each student can develop the entire scope of being a musician. Lastly, Meghan will give the student and/or parent a practice chart to complete during the week in order to track the student and/or parent's progress.
What are the benefits of studying music?
Not only does music develop the mind, but the body and soul as well. Violin in particular uses every part of the brain. Students who study music tend to get better grades and learn life lessons, like determination, discipline and focus. Music is truly a gift you carry with you throughout your entire life.
If my child is younger than 4 years old, how should they prepare to start violin lessons?
First of all, good for you for getting a head start! One option is Suzuki piano lessons--a solid way to begin learning about playing an instrument and developing focus and concentration. Another option is Kindermusik--a music and movement program that teaches children about music and explores different instruments; this program can also spark a child's interest in a particular instrument.
Meghan's professionalism and skill as a violinist and teacher are outstanding but even more than that, she has opened my daughter's eyes to the love of music. I would highly recommend Meghan as a violin teacher. Her love for music and for children are evident in every lesson. Her passion for violin is contagious and it has spread to my daughter. I am grateful for the time she spends each week with us. She has taught my daughter more than the fundamentals of violin-she's taught her about life and doing what you love to the fullest! She is a wonderful role model.