Individual lessons begin and end with a bow between the student and teacher. This formally marks the time spent with the teacher and is a sign of respect to both student and teacher. Some families signal their daily practice at home in this way, too, with parent and child bowing at the beginning and end. This tags the practice as a special time as well.
Suzuki students learn the notes of a piece at home, with their parent’s help. During the individual lesson, teachers will go over tricky aspects of playing and finer details. Parents will observe the teacher closely, taking detailed notes about particular practice points. These notes serve as a guide in the daily practice time at home.
All students attend monthly group classes with other children of their age and a similar skill level.
Suzuki piano teachers stress the importance of these group lessons to a child’s musical education, for several key reasons:
- Since pianists typically practice by themselves, group lessons give children an important chance to meet and socialise with other piano students.
- Many theory concepts are more efficiently taught to groups of students, saving individual lesson time for focus on individual development.
- Group classes provide pianists with experience in playing piano with others, which is important for ensemble performance and accompaniment.
Group classes focus on general concepts rather than improvement of particular pieces. Some examples are:
- Ear training
- Coordination of body and technique development
- Music reading
- Ensemble playing (duets, trios, two pianos and eight hands)
Teachers use a variety of different techniques in these classes and the children play a lot of games. Parents usually attend the group lessons with younger students. They can then play some of the games at home as further practice for their child. Older students generally attend group classes alone.
Generally group lessons last for one hour. They are held in different parts of the city, in teacher studios or at Suzuki Charter School, 10720-54 Street (map). All of the ESPS teachers offer group lessons for a range of ages and ability.