For those students who are age 6 or below I am an advocate of the Suzuki approach. This method was developed by violinist and teacher Shinichi Suzuki after the second world war. He observed that children learned to speak their native language effortlessly and without fail. He believed that musical ability could be developed to a high level in all children if taught in much the same way they learned the mother tongue. The parent acts as a teacher at home during the week in a positive and encouraging environment. Repeated listening to recordings of the repertoire helps to immerse the child in the musical environment and develops the ear. Continued review of pieces learned helps to solidify skills used later. Note reading is not neglected, just postponed until physical skills are in place. Student can be accepted in this approach as young as age 3. The Suzuki approach will require the involvement of a parent who will be able to attend the lesson as well as act during the week as a "home teacher." No previous experience necessary other than being a parent. The Suzuki approach or at least certain elements of it do work well for many older students or even adults, with some modifications. For additional information about this method check out the SAA website.
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