Saturday, October 11, 2008

Why it's worth it

On the SuzukiChat list Julie (of LivingMath fame) asked if there were other parents of multiple multi-instrument Suzuki children expending as much time, money and energy as she is, and if so, what we felt the deeper value of the musical experience was that justified all that sacrifice. Her question got me thinking. Here's my partial list of things of deep value that my kids have got through their music studies:
  • the experience of committing to something over the long-term
  • the experience of small incremental gains resulting in impressive overall progress
  • experience breaking large overwhelming tasks into small achievable ones
  • a long-term community of fellow-learners
  • a meaningful daily chore / routine
  • an appreciation of the fact that everyone learns differently and at different speeds, and that there's value in all that learning, no matter the pace
  • guided experience with the supportive appreciation of others' good work
  • meaningful, authentic and non-competitive involvement in 'teamwork' endeavours -- like working towards an ensemble performance
  • the abiding knowledge that they have something they can do very well
  • something that they are expected to work very hard at ... especially important for children to whom much comes very easily
  • an arena in which to work the kinks out of the parent-as-facilitator/child-as-learner relationship
  • something to do as teenagers besides hang out at the mall or the corner store
  • a common language with children and adults from other places, other walks of life and other cultures
  • a ticket into non-age-stratified groups where they are valued for
    their contributions as much as anyone else, adults or otherwise
  • meaningful, long-term relationships with adult mentors
  • copious exercise for the "memory muscle"
  • a place where their [homeschooling] parents can figure out what makes them tick in terms of learning style and motivation
  • the chance for the child to figure out what learning strategies and learning modes suit him best
  • a window into history
  • a creative / emotional outlet
  • opportunities for travel
  • a positive visible profile in the larger community
  • a useful marketable skill ... and one that can be used to contribute voluntarily to the community, whether by participation in fundraising concerts or simply by playing a few pieces at the nursing home at tea-time
  • experience with preparing and executing a performance/presentation in the public limelight
  • a cohort of similarly-committed peers to draw on for friendships during adolescence and beyond
  • an intuitive appreciation of the mathematical patterns inherent in music
  • the sense of being part of a family 'culture' of music


  1. Anonymous10:40 pm

    Wow! Can I quote this?

  2. Anonymous12:00 am

    I am always so impressed by your musical endeavours! Actually, I have seriously considered Suzuki Violin at least for my younger son. However, there doesn't seem to be anything available around here. Maybe we could find a teacher if we were willing to make a major investment (long travel/high cost) but I am afraid I don't feel THAT committed to it. Too bad!

  3. Sure, Erin, quote away!

  4. Anonymous7:41 am

    Thanks Miranda... I was sort of asking myself the same question except for basketball in C's case. Feeling better about the travel etc after reading your list... so much can apply to anything the kid has a passion for

  5. Thanks for this! I'm a mama/teacher to my five year old suzuki girl, and it's so wonderful to read a list like this from a mama like you who has older violinists. These are all the things that I hope for, for my daughter's future. Thanks!

  6. Miranda, as always you have insights of great value to offer. I actually stumbled onto your blog through another homeschooler's blog...then realized it was you from SuzukiChat! Thanks for sharing your experiences online like this - I'm going to show my girls (Twinkler and pre-Twinkler) the videos of your girls in the hopes of inspiring them a bit. I hope it's okay with you if I share this list with some of my students - it's a great one!
    -Christine Auger Velez


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