I am a certified Suzuki teacher so my approach is the Suzuki approach. For a great overview of Dr. Suzuki’s “Mother Tongue” philosophy, read “Nurtured by Love” and “Ability Development from Age Zero“. Both are available through libraries and are very short, interesting booklets. That said, we all have our own personality and style, strengths and creative energy, as well as differing degrees of patience, tolerance and affection for each other and situations. I consider myself to have plenty of these to give and I do my best to make my students feel welcome, successful and happy to be here learning an instrument.
For the younger students, we learn by ear. The parent attends the lessons as well and takes notes since the parent helps ensure the student does the practice assignment correctly at home. Music reading is taught after a very firm footing is established with being able to play the instrument well.
I am not authoritarian in my teaching style; I give instruction, guidance and recommendations, but encourage (especially the older or more advanced student) to try out their own approaches to a passage or piece of music and to explore the instrument. I want my students to be able to express themselves when another way may seem more sensible to them. There are many right ways, not just “my way.”
I am a believer in good technique, a foundation which can later support any musical direction or genre. I stress good technique, but with large doses of patience and encouragement.
I also very much enjoy helping student to better their reading skills. I thought I was a lousy sight reader as a youngster; I have seen firsthand kids in our school music program (who don’t get private lessons) who clearly don’t understand the music symbols they encounter every day in class. This can be very frustrating and is a significant barrier to the enjoyment an instrument can give. It is also easily corrected, and I’m happy to help in that process. Gaining confidence reading music makes playing less stressful and more joyful!
For students who have musical interests other than classical, I am very able to help the student learn various fiddle styles, favorite songs from their ipod, improvisation, and back-up techniques.
When I have a number of available, interested students, I enjoy giving group lessons. These are usually with the K-6 students who tend to be less booked after school and have shorter school hours. Group lessons are often the most fun and it encourages the social aspect of music. We do a lot of memory and music games, and work on techniques and reading skills. Parents are welcome to stay or drop off/pick up their child for group lessons.
I encourage anyone interested in lessons to come and observe my teaching. You’ll get a firsthand impression of me, the environment, and how my students sound. It’s sort of an interview process and should be done with any teachers you may be considering to find the best fit for you or your child.