Learning a Musical Instrument Helps Students
(by Sara Penny, Cedar City, Utah)
Suzuki Strings celebrates 30 years of string instruction in Cedar City and wants to encourage families to consider the value of learning a musical instrument. Sometimes children need to try more than one instrument before settling on the one that they can love for a lifetime, but in the process they learn to appreciate more possibilities in music.
Some of the advantages:
Listening Skills: Being able to listen carefully is valuable not only in music performance, but also in relationships, jobs, and school.
Cooperation: Performing in an orchestra, band or choir teaches students how to work together as a team. This experience builds community.
Boosts Memory Skills: Learning to play an instrument and performance helps develop the ability to memorize complex ideas that are valuable in other academic areas and as a life skill.
Supports School Studies: Written music is based on fractions so it helps students develop math skills. Studying music from different eras and places enhances learning about history, geography, language, and other academic areas.
Coordination: Instruments like the viola, cello and violin use different physical skills across the body. The hands are accessing separate skills at the same time. One hand is putting fingers down in precise spots and the other hand is guiding the bow. The senses of sight, hearing, and touch are refined with musical training.
Learn to Accept and Implement Constructive Criticism: Students learn to hear corrections and are encouraged to improve and refine their abilities. It is most effective to focus on one small point of correction at a time and then build steadily on the student’s progress.
Confidence: Learning to play an instrument well offers a life long ability to play in musical groups, productively channel emotions, and share performances with others.
Concentration: Coming in with entrances, holding notes the proper length, finding the exact pitch, and other tasks help focus concentration, which pays off in many other areas as well.
Teaches Discipline, Endurance and Long Term Planning: Students learn to work towards long- term goals because mastery of an instrument can take years of consistent and disciplined practice. This is not an “instant gratification” experience, but something that can give joy throughout life.
In our Suzuki Strings program we especially like this quote from Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, “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.”
“We want to add more viola and cello students this season to balance our program,” said Sara Penny, Suzuki Strings Director. The group classes are under the auspices of the SUU Music Dept, starting Sept. 5 at 5 p.m. in the SUU Music Building. Classes range from beginners to advanced, including a string orchestra. Children aged 3 and up learn an instrument through a weekly private lesson and weekly group lesson with the assistance of parents.
The year before kindergarten and 2nd grade are particularly good times to start an instrument. For best results, start before age 12, because a child’s hands are more flexible, which makes it easier to learn as a child. A child between three and eight will need considerable help and encouragement from an adult. Students age eight to 12 can tackle learning more independently, but strong family encouragement is still crucial. Listening to professional recordings helps establish better pitch and rhythms, but it is also important to learn to read music to enjoy orchestra experiences.
“It is exciting to have young teachers helping train the next generation of musicians,” said Penny. For lessons in violin contact Marin Colby, 231-2182, for violin or viola Eric Liebhardt, 592-5666, and for cello Julie Davis, 590-5661 or Heather Housley 590-3873. All perform in the Orchestra of Southern Utah.
For more information, contact Penny at 586-2286.