Suzuki Style - Short Term - Studio Policies & FAQs - What You'll Need
Beginner's Supply List:
The Most Important Things you'll need..
- A Willingness to work! Playing the viola or violin can be fun, and rewarding, and can bring joy to you, your fellow musicians and your audience. The instruments are portable and can be played just about everywhere in any genre of music you enjoy. Violists or violinists can play music alone or with friends; to express their feelings, exercise creativity, make friends, have fun, unwind, or to enhance spiritual endeavors both alone and in houses of worship. There is always something new to learn. But like anything worthwhile, it requires work.
- Time: Viola and Violin are not by any means quick musical instruments to learn. You (the youth or adult student, or you, the parent of a young child) will need to put in consistent, focused and thoughtful practice sessions over sustained periods of time, regardless of whether or not you intend to become a professional musician or merely wish to have a musical hobby to enjoy. Absolute beginners should expect to put in at least 2-3 years of consistent work (averaging 6-7 practice sessions a week, at approximately 1 practice session per day, each practice session lasting between 20-60 minutes) in order to gain initial fluency in playing with beautiful tone, good intonation, and ability to play and read simple melodies or harmonies in multiple keys.
- Encouragement: Parents of young children will need to provide daily encouragement and support during each practice session, and be ready to provide the occasional external reward for students who are too young to understand the concept of delayed gratification (rewards do not need to be elaborate). Older students should seek out friends or family who are willing to encourage them to persist through the long-term process of practicing a musical instrument. Older students should also be prepared to provide external rewards for themselves too!
- Daily practice motivation, but without "pressure": Parents of students must also be prepared to insist on working consistently on the skills needed to play, without the expectation of either failure or of spectacular results, as if playing music is an inevitable thing one must do for oneself (like brushing one's teeth, completing homework, eating meals, using language to communicate, or becoming literate, etc.).
- For a good, more in-depth explanation of how external rewards can motivate best, among many other pieces of helpful advice, I recommend parents (or even older students) read Robert Cutietta's book Raising Musical Kids.
The Instrument and accessories you'll need
- You will need a quality instrument outfit of the right size. Please WAIT to purchase an instrument until your teacher can recommend the proper size for you. If you or your child seem "between" sizes, get the smaller size. Please do not purchase or rent a "VSO".
- A bow should be included in your instrument outfit, and should have real horsehair and a stick with decent camber. Your teacher can make sure your bow is playable, unwarped and able to easily produce a smooth, clean, expressive tone.
- Please also ensure that you have a cake of new rosin,
- a sturdy case,
- and a soft, dry cleaning cloth. Sometimes a cleaning cloth will come with your instrument 'outfit' when you purchase or rent it. Treated cleaning cloths, or those made from "special" materials, are available from music stores, but any ordinary, soft, dry, clean cloth will do. Cloths made to clean eyeglasses are often perfect for cleaning instruments, (but cleaning the rosin off of instruments will ruin them for cleaning eyeglasses). Don't use paper towels or Kleenex, since they leave 'lint' on (and in) your instrument
- Very young children may need to begin with a box or 'pre' violin made of cardboard or foam in order to learn to care for the instrument first.
- OPTIONAL: Parents or Practice Partners often find it motivational (for their child) and helpful (for them to understand how to coach their child at home), if they also get a full-size instrument to learn and play alongside their children.
- Please be sure to put identification on the inside and outside of the case with your name, phone number, email, and physical address. A luggage tag on the handle and a business card or index card tucked inside will do the job. Some music stores sell 'fun' ID tags (like luggage tags) with musical notes, instruments or other pictures on them.
- You'll also need a rubber band with a shoulder sponge which stays flexible when dry. I recommend Michael Kimber's PolyPad as a good starter sponge, and usually have a few in my studio to lend out. Alternatively, several layers of soft foam shelf liner may also work. (Do not get a dish sponge which becomes stiff as it dries out or which has an abrasive side). A Shoulder Rest may be recommended for some students. The purpose is to prevent the left shoulder from rising up in a tense position when you play the instrument. It keeps the instrument from sliding around on the shoulder, and makes it more comfortable to hold. Your teacher will show you an example of what kind of a sponge to buy, or there may be sponges and rubber bands available at the lesson. Some violin shops include a sponge with purchase or rental of the instrument, but it might not be the right height or shape for the student. We will customize as much as possible during the first few lessons.
- Depending on you and your child's body type, you may be asked to purchase a chinrest of a different shape, height or material than the chinrest which was on your instrument when you bought or rented it. Some students with sensitive skin find that a soft handkerchief, or other type of padding laid on top of the chinrest, is optimal. Products like the "Impressionist Chinrest Comforter" or the "StradPad" can help customize the chinrest so that it is more comfortable.
- Finally, you'll need something which will give you a tuning note every day. For example: an "A" tuning fork, a pitch pipe with an "A," a smartphone or tablet with a tuning app like "Cleartune", a recently tuned piano at home, an electronic keyboard, a metronome with a "tuning A," the tuning tracks from Kerstin Wartberg's "Step by Step" audio recordings, etc. Your teacher will show you how to tune the instrument.
Recordings, Books, and Other Materials you'll neeed
You will need to be able to easily write and erase in your Suzuki book. I recommend either:
You'll need a way to listen to the Creative Ability Development CD. If you don't have a CD player or a way to load a CD album onto your computer or mp3 player, bring me your CD and I'll help you transfer it to mp3 format.
The Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory Alto Clef (Viola) Edition comes in 3 volumes. You can purchase them one at a time as needed, but I recommend buying the complete edition with all three volumes in one book.
for the Suzuki recordings:
- You will also need a blank notebook and pen or pencil, or a computer/tablet for the parent or practice partner to take notes during the lessons. (For notetaking on an iPad, I recommend Notability for its ability to link audio with pictures and with typed or written notes.)
- An audio/video recorder/camera - a smartphone or tablet with recording capability will do - to record important parts of the lesson, and take pictures of the correct bow hold and playing position for yourself & your child.
- Parents will need to read the book Nurtured By Love by Shinichi Suzuki. Reading this book is a key to understanding the Suzuki method, which we will be using. Although originally written in Japanese, this book is available in multiple languages, and most parents should be able to find a translation in their native language. Other books may be recommended and will give more information as well as practical advice from those who have studied music before us.
- Optional is purchase of a music stand. I recommend something with a solid desk that is also designed to be portable, like the Manhasset Voyager (which also comes in a short version), or the Peak SMS-20, (or the SMS-30, -40 or -50) music stands.