A Suzuki program is meant to be a community of learners, sharing a vision and methods to achieve the vision. Dr. Suzuki desired to mold beautiful hearts through the discipline of playing an instrument. He developed a system to do this, but he was always tinkering with the exact methods. He never stopped learning and experimenting to improve upon his ideas. He enjoyed the learning process! It is unfortunate that children primarily tend to see learning as a teacher directed activity. Knowledge is to filter down on the students as dust on a dresser. But just as dust doesn’t sink into the wood, knowledge often doesn’t sink into the wood(en heads of the students). Learning is only really done when the knowledge becomes ingrained, or implanted into the very grain of the wood(en heads).
Numerous studies show that all people learn faster and more thoroughly when they are entertained at the same time. Aunt Rhody well remembers being forced to read out loud on my mother’s lap. She was appalled that I wasn’t learning phonics in school and set out to rectify the gap in my education. But it was not fun! I perceived her dismay as a personal failure and the task felt like punishment. I hated that time with her. But it could have been fun had I felt she was a partner in a phonics game. Knowledge can’t be easily forced into someone, just as dust can’t be ground into a table. The recipient has to desire to learn. A desire to learn makes the learner a self-teacher and that is the most effective teacher there is. People seek for, and absorb knowledge far more readily and permanently, if they don’t feel forced into doing something that is hard and no fun. Any task can (and should) be broken down into small, achievable units and then practiced within a game. Games increase the desire, challenge and self-satisfaction when a task is accomplished.
As people age, they are able more and more to learn without external games, often because the act of learning itself becomes a sort of game. But the parents must help young children find joy in the learning process. How does one do this? Here are several ideas: 1. Practice when everyone is rested and no one is hungry. 2. Set aside any worries. Whatever the problem is can’t be solved during practice anyway. 3. Actively find ways to enjoy yourself. Remember, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” 4. Be playful. Have plan for practice, but then go with the flow. Some days will just be better days than others. 5. Remember not to measure progress merely, or even especially, in the ability to play the next song.
This week as you and your child learn about the chosen instrument, relax! Create moments to laugh. Turn difficult spots or skills into games. Have fun.
© 2010 Susan A. Sommerville
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