What ages do you teach?
I teach all ages. My students range in age from 3 ½ -adults of any age. The Suzuki program is required for any student under the age of 12. It is best to start children in the method between 3 ½ and 6 as these are the formative years when the child is most under the influence of the parent and child’s school culture is a minimal factor. That said, all children need the guidance and support of the parent in any endeavor until they leave home.
Regardless of the age I teach, my view is that all beginners are young and should be instructed accordingly. An adult beginner must learn the rudiments of technique and body awareness if they start karate at an advanced age, so why would you approach things differently when learning guitar? All of my students, irrespective of age, learn technical and aural skills first and reading second.
Why start so young?
To be sure, you can learn an instrument at any age. My former guitar teacher, Ricardo Iznaola used to say that anyone who has desire has talent.
That said, starting young offers up advantages that people who start later do not have, such as:
- Not being burdened by intangible expectations, i.e., I have been playing x amount of time therefore I ought to be able to do x. Children learn these intangible expectations and from their parents and peers.
- Young children can appreciate small accomplishments. This makes it easier to build a solid foundation.
- The mind and body are more pliable at younger ages and don’t have to unlearn bad habits.
- Young children do not and SHOULD NOT have the pressures of school and sports achievement competing for time real-estate.
- Young children have time.
What size guitar is right for my child, where do I get it, and how much will it cost?
The Behrens Guitar Studio fits each child to the appropriate instrument. Sizing and quality are important, so my advice would be to wait to purchase an instrument till you have consulted me, the teacher. Another perk in the Behrens Guitar Studio is that I make available to you several options and sizes of quality guitars that are not available in local music stores. You also benefit from an instrument buy back program so that your old instrument can go to the next family that needs that size. Please see the guitar page for more info.
My child got a guitar for a holiday or their birthday. Will that guitar be ok?
I am happy to take a look at your existing guitar to see if it will suffice. Generally, I advise for the sake of saving you money, time and grief, that you wait to purchase an instrument till you have had a chance to talk about sizing and quality with your teacher. As a teacher devoted to excellence, I take the time to custom fit each child to the appropriate instrument.
The Behrens Guitar Studio is proud to feature a variety of high quality student level guitars. Please see the Guitars page for more information
The Behrens Guitar Studio has access to a wider variety of guitar sizes with hard shell cases than any studio or music store in town.
Members of the Behrens Guitar Studio benefit from our guitar recycling program. When you are ready to move up a size
Your guitar, if taken care of, should easily be sold to the next family at least for 90% of what you paid for it. Remember, your child’s guitar is an investment, so take good care of it!
When are lessons and recitals?
The Behrens Guitar Studio hours of operation are Monday-Thursday from 1:00pm-9:00pm.Usually there are two recitals a year, one in the Spring and one in the Fall. Check upcoming events for more info.
When will my child play his/her first song?
My colleagues and I have all been guilty at one time or another of trying to impress parents with how quickly we can teach their child how to play their first song. This ultimately does more harm than good. In the Suzuki method, we try to meet the child where he/she is at developmentally. This varies in all children. A child’s mental age does not necessarily coincide with his chronological age. We have to break down ability into smaller components. For some children, it is a task to pay attention for more than 10 seconds. I have seen this play itself out in all children from age 4 all the way to 14. The first few lessons may involve improving the ability to pay attention.
I got an interesting compliment from the parent of one of the 5 year olds that I teach. A teacher herself, she related how she found out that a couple of her young students played guitar. Curious, since her son had been in my program for 4 months, she asked the students to bring their instrument and play. She said that the kids had oversized guitars, no playing posture and couldn’t really play much. Seeing the haphazard manner in which they played, she was thankful that I had taken the time to teach her son how to sit. Now he is on his 3rd song. My advice is, not to be so desperate for results that you undermine the process.
How do I know the teacher I am considering is qualified to teach Suzuki?
An excellent question. Beware!! Always check into the instructors credentials as experience, training and dedication to the philosophy vary greatly. There are some who are merely using Suzuki materials and calling themselves Suzuki instructors, when they have never even set foot in a training session.
Also, be wary of anyone who calls themselves “Suzuki Based”. You either are or you aren’t. Many Suzuki instructors maintain membership with the Suzuki Association of the Americas and register their training units there. A parent section on the site allows you to find a teacher in your area and check the credentials of a prospective instructor. If you go to my related links page, you will find the websites of teacher trainers that I trained with.
I have heard that Suzuki students don’t learn to read music. Is this true?
If a child fails to learn to read music, it is the fault of the teacher, not the method. The reason for the misperception in the question above is merely a misunderstanding of process. In the Suzuki method, we do DELAY READING ON THE INSTRUMENT, until the child’s technique and hearing are well developed. Children vary in terms of their readiness to read. In the Behrens Guitar Studio, we start pre-reading skills right away, but away from the instrument.