Atlanta Suzuki Violin
About the Approach
More than fifty years ago, Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki realized the implications of the fact that children the world over learn to speak their native language with ease. He began to apply the basic principles of language acquisition to the learning of music, and called his method the mother-tongue approach. The ideas of parent responsibility, loving encouragement, constant repetition, etc., are some of the special features of the Suzuki approach.
As when a child learns to talk, parents are involved in the musical learning of their child. They attend lessons with the child and serve as “home teachers” during the week. One parent often learns to play before the child, so that they understand what the child is expected to do. Parents work with the teacher to create an enjoyable learning environment.
The early years are crucial for developing mental processes and muscle coordination. Listening to music should begin at birth; formal training may begin at age three or four, but it is never too late to begin.
Children learn words after hearing them spoken hundreds of times by others. Listening to music every day is important, especially listening to pieces in the Suzuki repertoire so the child knows them immediately.
Constant repetition is essential in learning to play an instrument. Children do not learn a word or piece of music and then discard it. They add it to their vocabulary or repertoire, gradually using it in new and more sophisticated ways.
As with language, the child’s effort to learn an instrument should be met with sincere praise and encouragement. Each child learns at their own rate, building on small steps so that each one can be mastered. Children are also encouraged to support each other’s efforts, fostering an attitude of generosity and cooperation.
Learning with Other Children
In addition to private lessons, children participate in regular group lessons and performance at which they learn from and are motivated by each other.
Children do not practice exercises to learn to talk, but use language for its natural purpose of communication and self-expression. Pieces in the Suzuki repertoire are designed to present technical problems to be learned in the context of the music rather than through dry technical exercises.
Children learn to read after their ability to talk has been well established. in the same way, children should develop basic technical competence on their instruments before being taught to read music.
About the Instructor
Virginia Sloan, a violinist and native Atlantan, considers herself a specialist in Early Childhood Suzuki Method. While using other styles and methods as well, Ms. Virginia incorporates a wealth of performing experience, training and her love for children into her approach. Though she teaches all levels, she has found her niche with younger children.
Virginia completed Suzuki Pedagogy training at the University of Tennessee under teacher trainer Debbie Goolsby. Over the years she has continued her training with world renowned teachers such as Doris Pruecil, Dr. William Starr, Ed Krietman, Louise Wear and Linda Fore.
After getting her Suzuki Pedagogy Training and spending two summers with The Aspen Music Festival (’87 – ’88), Virginia became a section violinist with the Knoxville Symphony under the direction of Kirk Trevor (1985-1990) where she performed with such greats as Andy Williams, Joshua Bell, Midori, Nadjia Salerno Sonnenburg, Ray Charles, Dionne Warwick and Luciano Pavarotti. After moving back to her native Atlanta she has played with area orchestras and ensembles including Cobb Symphony and the Gwinnett Philharmonic. As a freelance violinist Virginia has worked in studio recording and performed with Smokey Robinson and Bread.
In 1991 Virginia founded and directed Atlanta Suzuki Violin in Buckhead where she also directed “Musical Mornings Summer Day Camp” and taught Kindermusik Classes. In 1992 she auditioned for the prestigious position of teacher to the grandson of Raphael Hillyer, founding member of the Julliard String Quartet. After Hillyer observed her teaching and she was awarded the position, he then presented her a “letter of recommendation”.
In 1999 Ms. Virginia hosted the Georgia Suzuki “Play-In” which was part of an international event held in honor of Shinichi Suzuki after he died at the age of 99. Virginia has served on the board of the Suzuki Association of Georgia and is currently a member.