"If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline, and endurance. They get a beautiful heart." --Dr. Shinichi Suzuki
Our award-winning studio boasts accomplishment from every student (and teacher too), but that's not what makes our studio most outstanding or unique. What makes us special is the way we connect music learning to life skills in order to help young people make life-long habits of excellence. Numerous studies show that music improves brain function. We also see a correlation between music students and successful people. I would not say that music itself brings forth future success, but that the study, discipline, work ethic, and commitment that our music lessons cultivate in a student then carry into other aspects of life, helping the individual to develop habits of concentration, follow-through, and an intrinsic work ethic that brings forth success in other areas of life as well. Successful individuals in all areas of life have learned to harness these habits of success. These are not inborn traits, but learned habits.
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit." --Aristotle
Another thing that makes our studio unique is the focus on community. Students have opportunity to perform in the spotlight & feel special! In addition to that, students are provided with opportunities to give back by sharing their musical gifts with others who cherish the interaction. When the focus is on giving to others, students nerves lessen & confidence builds because children who are giving a gift feel good about giving instead of focusing on themselves. As students advance, they partner-play accompaniments for younger or more beginning students. This kind of interaction inspires the beginner, helps the advancing student to develop patience & compassion, and fosters confidence all around. As the students grow to know & appreciate one another (instead of competing & comparing), they are delighted to hear one another at recitals (instead of restlessly waiting for their turn & feeling bored for the rest of the recital). Leadership skills begin to take shape with the attitude of kindness & cooperation instead of dictatorship or attitudes of superiority. Advancing students take pride in the accomplishments of their young partners & young ones are guided by a host of mentors in a nurturing, supportive environment.
"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships." -- Michael Jordan
Other enriching aspects of our studio are workshops in which students "play games" and participate in ensemble playing with peers. These workshops reinforce music theory concepts, helping the child to internalize the lesson & deepen understanding beyond mere memorization. They also facilitate teamwork in accomplishing a unified goal. The kids love them because they're FUN. (Shh... don't tell them they're learning THEORY.) Ensemble experience is a social joy and also strengthens musical skill. Students naturally absorb strengths from one another when they play together.
"The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences." -- Dr. Maria Montessori
One big thing that stands out is our involvement in additional events. Each event has a slightly different focus and calls for a different set of requirements. Each is worthy of listing on college applications as "proof" of achievement & success, but mostly, these frequent events provide students with the motivation to work towards a goal. Some goals are short-term goals, others are long-term goals, but we set an overview of goals at the beginning of the year, then throughout the year, as we work together towards each shorter-term goal, students have a reason to keep working and a deadline to which they need to adhere. Each event is different & unique, keeping the feeling of newness & anticipation at its peak. That creates a desire in students to reach a little farther than they would if every weekly lesson was the same monotonous routine. Students are part of the decision-making process, giving them a sense of control, fostering independent thought and ownership in their own success.
Why are these things important?
- Goal setting -- students work harder when they have a plan, a purpose, and a deadline.
- Playing for and with peers enhances rhythmic accountability, musicianship skills, and fosters a cooperative spirit among studio-mates.
- Casual performances give students the opportunity to perform in a low-stress, enjoyable environment and an opportunity to share their gifts within the community.
- Formal recitals give students the chance to feel very special, in the spotlight, to shine as they demonstrate their advancing skills.
- Adjudicated events (such as Festivals & Auditions) give students feedback from an objective professional about their progress including affirmation of student's strengths as well as areas in which each can continue to grow.
- Annual examinations adhere to a national or international standard including a well-rounded, balanced repertoire & education. Standards are established in technical skills, ear training, repertoire playing, sight reading, music theory, and history.
- Self motivation, decision-making skills, confidence, compassion, cooperation, goal-setting -- these life long habits of successful individuals can be taught at a young age through the study of music in a character-nurturing environment. That alone is the greatest value of our music lessons (from this mom's perspective). The advancing musical skill is a guaranteed and delightful result!
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