Questions About Cello Lessons
What is the best age to start?
Generally speaking, the younger the better. Children could start taking early childhood music classes when they are born! By the age of 4, they are normally ready for individual instrument lesson.
The biggest question here is: are the parents ready? Taking your child to music lessons is one of the best gifts you can give them, but it does take time and commitment from the parents. If you are unsure about this, please contact me for a chat.
How to prepare my child for cello lessons?
Listen to the Suzuki Cello book 1 repertoire every day. The more your child listens the more quickly will learn, and the more beautifully will play someday. Play it softly in the background and be sure you listen, too.
Take your child to short children’s concerts and always demonstrate that music is important in your home.
In order to prepare yourself for the time when you will need to practice daily with your child, it would be extremely helpful if you could set aside a small amount of time every day to do an activity together, for example, reading, painting or doing a puzzle.
Read the books “Nurtured By Love” and “Ability Development from Age Zero” by Shinichi Suzuki as these are the foundations of the Suzuki approach and very interesting reads.
If you are eager to start but your child is not ready yet, why not start to take lessons yourself! Many Suzuki parents start taking lessons to be able to help their child better for future practice and also to make their child interested in the instrument.
How do I know if my child has musical talent?
The Suzuki Method fundamental philosophy is that every child can learn. Talent in children is a skill that develops over time. Every child has the ability to speak their mother tongue, as long as they have the opportunity to be introduced to this language from an early age (even in the womb!). Developing musical talent is no different. If parents believe in the ability of their child, and if they provide the support and proper environment to learn, their child will develop their talent to play an instrument gradually.
Why do I need to be present at the lesson?
One of the unique aspects of the Suzuki Method is the direct involvement of parents in their child’s education. It is required that you attend the lessons. You are the best teacher for your child and your presence is key to develop their interest in learning. During our classes, you will learn how to create a proper learning environment in your home, the basic technique of the cello, and how to practice effectively with your child. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be an expert! Most often, parents that are not musicians tend to be really good Suzuki parents!
How do we have to listen to the recordings every day?
Children learn to speak by listening and imitating the language spoken around them. By listening to the Suzuki recordings, children absorb the language of music just as they absorb the sounds of their mother tongue. Constant listening to music performed with beautiful tone provides children with a role model for their playing.
Learning to play the cello is as much a physical process as it is an auditory one. Listening to the pieces your child is currently playing and upcoming pieces is part of daily practice and is just as important as practicing their instrument. Listen to the recordings in the car on the way to school, as you are eating an after school snack before practicing and sometimes before bed. They will get stuck in your head, and that is a good thing! This will make learning new pieces much easier.
How much practice do we need?
Daily practice is key to learn an instrument. Create the habit of practicing every day in short sessions. Practice is to make it easier!
When a young child learns new words, they don’t master them and never say them again. They repeat them over and over and become a part of the child’s vocabulary. The Suzuki pieces should be acquired in the same way. Repetition is the mother of skill and the key to retention. The choice of music included in the Suzuki repertoire is strategic. Each piece builds on the ones that came before, preparing students for difficulties ahead. The skills learned and polished in these pieces need consistent repetition so that they become natural and easy.
When do you begin reading music?
The Mother-Tongue approach recognizes that reading music follows the acquisition of good technical and musical skills just as reading a language is learnt after a child can speak fluently. The stage at which the child begins to learn reading music varies according to age and general development. It is important in the early stages that the auditory senses are fully developed before the visual senses begin to dominate the learning process. Children who read music too soon often don’t listen well to tone, pitch and musicality. Suzuki students are taught to read music, however, it will always be after basic playing skills have been mastered.
Where do I purchase a cello?
If you don’t have a cello yet, I recommend you to wait for the trial lesson before purchasing or renting a cello. A poor quality instrument could affect your learning. Also, there are different sizes for children and adults so we need to check which size instrument is best for the child’s body and age.
The Sydney String Centre has good quality student instruments professionally set-up for rental. This is a great option if you are starting out or have a young child that will change cello sizes a few times before being ready to play in a full size cello.
Click here to know more.
Which materials are necessary?
- Rosin: This helps the bow hair to rub against the string and cause it to vibrate, making a lovely sound. I recommend the brands Pirastro or Hindersine.
- Endpin Stopper: To be able to play in any surface, like hardwood floors and carpets. I recommend the brand The Black Hole.
- Cleaning Cloth: Any type of cleaning cloth, like dusting microfibre cloth. Make sure you clean strings, cello and bow after each use.
- Tuning App: I recommend the app InsTuner (free).
- Suzuki recordings (CD, mp3 or SoundCloud app): Find a way to listen to the Suzuki recordings every day. This could be in your car, in the kitchen during meal times, anywhere you can listen while playing, studying or before bedtime.
- Suzuki Book/Technique Books as I determine necessary: Please, in respect to book authors, photocopied books in place of a purchased printed book is not acceptable.
- Pencil: Make sure you always have a pencil in your cello case and do not use a pen for making notes in your music sheet.
- Lesson Notes booklet: To take notes during lessons and to track progress and practice sessions.
- Cello Workbook: companion guide, part of the Cello Starter Kit.
- Stool: You should have a cello stool at home at the appropriate height for your child. This is very important and I am happy to help you in finding the right stool.
- Music Stand for home practice.
- Spare Set of Strings: Alternatively you can buy these as and when you need them, but you may be without a string for a week or so.
Making the most of your cello lesson
Arrive early: Plan to arrive a few minutes early. Arriving a little before provides time for your child to settle in to the musical environment. If the teacher is in another lesson, you may come in and wait quietly.
Go barefoot!: Please remove shoes when you enter the studio and make sure your child is dressed in non-restrictive clothing so that we can move freely during our lesson.
Turn your mobile phone off! Please turn off all mobile phones in the studio as they disturb the flow of the lesson. You may use your phone to record activities.
No distractions: I do request that toys, juice cups and food be kept out of sight, and that snacks be finished prior to the lesson. Also, be sure your child has used the toilet before the lesson begins.
Be focused and patient: During the lesson, the most important thing you can do for your child is to be a patient role model. When you are a present, focused, enthusiastic participant, your child will model your actions and focus more fully too. And, as hard as this may be to you, please do not interrupt the lesson with comments about your child’s behaviour unless the teacher asks you to do so. Your child only needs one teacher at a time.
Take notes: Make sure you take notes during the lesson and that they are clear and specific for home practice. Any questions that you may have, please keep them to the end so to not interrupt the flow of the lesson.
Practice: The secret to a successful cello lesson is a good practice week. Don’t be discouraged for a week of not much practice (please come to the lesson anyway!), but try to make that an exception and not the rule. Frequent practice is key for musical development and enjoyment in the lesson.
Listen, listen, listen!: This is the key to success! Listen to the Suzuki repertoire every day.
Love: Read Nurtured by Love, by Shinichi Suzuki. Be positive, provide constant encouragement and stay involved. Reward a job well done!