Tag Archives: Suzuki Flute School

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Is My Child Ready for Flute Lessons?

Your child loves music, you’ve tried piano lessons and you bought that plastic recorder, but the interest seems to be fading and the musical community and fun you hoped for is nonexistent –now what?

Playing the Flute – What Age is Best?

A child as young as three can start the violin, so why not the flute? The answer is complex, and I do have colleagues that begin students as young as three, but I think five or six is a perfect starting age for flute lessons.  A youngster at this age will respond very well to the mix of familiar pattern and open-ended creativity to be found in learning to play the flute. They will be able to focus for short bursts of time.  And of course, the benefits of music and instrumental instruction to the developing brain are well documented — click here for more: 6 Benefits of Music Lessons

What kind of flute?

Jupiter Prodigy Flute – ideal for very small children

Jupiter Prodigy Flute

Trevor James 10x flute comes with both curved and straight head joints

10x flute curved-resized

A young flutist can usually handle a “real” instrument –that is, one with a curved-head joint that fits the child’s hands and body.  There are several flutes on the market geared towards young children. Although there are instruments available with only a body and head-joint (such as the Jupiter Prodigy pictured above), I recommend getting a complete flute (such as the Trevor James or similar), as it can be played for many years without need for a step-up or replacement instrument.

Posture, breathing and hand position.

A young flutist learns a series of movements not unlike a little dance –we stand, smile, bow, adjust our feet, and float the flute above our heads before even playing a note. Performing this ritual before each song instills a sense of calm, steady relaxation and sets up the child in an attitude of openness and readiness to play.

boy playing the flute

Developing the practice habit.

Parents, you must take up the gauntlet here! It is a rare child who will set their own schedule and find time for regular practice sessions.  Just as you set up play dates, dinner time and transportation to school, it is your responsibility to create a little space for music in your busy family life.  That could mean having books, stand, instrument, etc. set up in a corner of the living room, and making sure there is time during day for practice. You can listen to your child play their songs and count their repetitions, or ask them to explain a new concept that only they understand. Or you could do a flute set-up with them –  keep an eye on their pinky to make sure it’s going to the right place.  A partnership is needed here – practice time only takes about 15-20 minutes a day, and will add incalculable benefit to your child’s musical life. And when grandparents come to town imagine their delight when they get hear a new piece!

Group classes Available Through KidzCentralStation.com:

Flute lessons at NYC Flute provide a built in community of peers –there’s always someone to look up to, and someone to show off for in group class! During private lesson the young flutist learns one-on-one according to their own particular strengths and needs, but in group class a whole new set of music-making skills come into focus that can’t be duplicated in any other way: Listening, ensemble skills, performance confidence –and getting to play with your friends, what could be more fun?

Book a class today on KidzCentralStation.com, here!

 

What Is Suzuki Flute?

The Suzuki Flute Method

The Suzuki violin method developed by Shinichi Suzuki in the late 50’s is well known to most parents –however, included under the Suzuki umbrella are methods for many other instruments, including the Suzuki Flute School. We are fortunate to have a tireless and enthusiastic proponent of this beautiful and expressive instrument in Toshio Takahashi, a Japanese flutist who developed the Suzuki flute method books.

Mr. Takahashi’s story is very interesting, but I will save that for a later post. Suffice to say that he came to the United States to study with the famous French flutist Marcel Moyse, who is considered one of the greatest flute teachers of all time and with whom generations of American flutists have studied. Mr. Moyse lived and taught in the United States near Brattleboro, Vermont, and that is where Mr. Takahashi made his way to study with him.

Upon his return to Japan and at the request of Shinichi Suzuki, Takahashi developed the Suzuki Flute School, using many of the principals he learned from maestro Moyse. Chief among these are tone development and musical expression.

Reading Music and Listening!

The Suzuki method places equal emphasis on reading music as well as listening to the repertoire and learning to play by ear. This is practically unheard of (pun intended!) in the world of traditional music lessons. An entire aspect of musicianship totally ignored and marginalized!

The Suzuki learner has two books, one for learning by ear and another for learning to read music, ie: staff and notes. Since many youngsters in the Suzuki Flute School are just learning to read anyway, this is appropriate for them as well. Listening to music is integral to the Suzuki method, the student who is familiar with a song before they start playing it will learn very quickly. A lot of listening is encouraged.

The Suzuki Triangle

Another effective aspect of the Suzuki method is the famous “Suzuki Triangle” which consists of teacher, parent and student. This set-up virtually guarantees success at home. Parents sit in on lessons and listen to their child play the assignments at home. Parents assume the role of teacher at home –listening to  practice sessions, looking out for good habits and offering praise for work well done.

A practice session should last anywhere from 10-15 minutes, consistently, at least 5-6 days per week. In some studios, parents are encouraged to learn to play the flute too –at least at a rudimentary level– so they can coach and listen to their child more effectively. This isn’t entirely necessary and ultimately won’t affect the child’s learning curve, but it is fun to be able to play a bit with your child.

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Group Flute Classes

Group classes are another great reason to choose Suzuki Flute.  In addition to a weekly private lesson Suzuki students participate in group classes, these can run weekly, or in some cases for a set number of times per semester –and they always culminate in a concert for family and friends. The goal of the groups are to solidify what’s already learned through playing together, adding harmony parts to easy songs, and hearing others play. Interacting with other students in this way also creates camaraderie and a sense of community.

To find out more, as well as book a class with Laura Thompson and Suzuki Flute, visit KidzCentralStation.com. 

I want to make good citizens. If a child hears fine music from the day of his birth and learns to play it himself, he develops sensitivity, discipline and endurance. He gets a beautiful heart. 

—Shin’ichi Suzuki