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  • Writer's pictureElisabeth Hope

7 Game-Changing Books for Suzuki Parents and Teachers

Updated: Sep 7, 2020

What are you reading? When I think of books that have brought my Suzuki parenting and teaching to the next level, I hesitate to put a limit on the number of books I recommend. No matter how many I discuss, I will leave out even more fabulous books that should be mentioned. Nevertheless, here are just seven books that have had a big influence on my Suzuki parenting and teaching lately.

Ever since I first met Michele Horner and got acquainted with her book Life Lens in January 2017, my teaching, parenting, and even friendships have been forever changed. Michele classifies learning styles into seven types. Once you figure out which learning style fits your student/child/friend/spouse, you can determine how to present your information in the way that is most natural for them to receive. Understanding how they best learn new information has revolutionized the way that I work with my girls when we practice—and since their learning styles are different, the way I practice with one daughter is very different than the way I practice with the other.

While I’m still improving at quickly diagnosing the learning style of individual students when I meet them, I’ve found that I’ve been much better able to adjust my teaching style for each student who comes in my door. A few students that I had difficulty reaching before reading Life Lens have absolutely blossomed, now that I know how to adjust the way that I teach them. Families in my studio have really benefited from these books, especially as parents have been able to figure out why it seems like the opposite strategies work for each sibling in the family. This will definitely be a worthwhile addition to your collection!

This awesome resource gives biographical information about each composer in the Suzuki Violin School books*, as well as specific information and context about each piece. As a teacher, I pull it out for students frequently, especially when a student is preparing to perform a piece or when it appears that they need a little help connecting with a piece. My students especially love reading the original storyline and lyrics to the pieces adapted from operatic literature. (Zombie uprising in The Two Grenadiers, anyone?) This book is also a winner for providing historical factoids as we prepare pieces together as a group. I love having this book on my shelf as a teacher, but I think I’d still want it even if I were “only” the Suzuki practice parent for my own kids. Especially as they get older, understanding the historical background of their pieces will help them understand the differences in musical style and help them connect with the music that they play.

*note: the book does not cover the new material added to the revised edition, so we’ll need to do own research on Bohm’s Perpetual Motion in book 4. Every now and then, I assign small projects for the kids, so this is a fun one to let them research on their own.

Christine Goodner’s experience as a Suzuki parent and teacher is invaluable in this book. It’s written simply, directly and accessibly. Nevertheless, as I first read it, I frequently found myself putting it down in order to process what I’d read and consider how it applied to my situation as I practice with my daughters. Christine writes in an encouraging style—you’re going to finish this book feeling like “I really can pull off this Suzuki parenting thing.” This book gives practical as well as philosophical context to what we’re doing, why we’re doing, and how we can go about making it work as well as possible.

A practical guide to practicing with your child from Christine Goodner, this is a great guidebook that gives five easy-to-remember steps to help “keep practice positive and productive.” There are workbook pages to help you work through each step, as well as practical questions and ideas for each step. It’s a quick read, and I find myself returning to it over and over to check in, review the concepts, and refresh our practice routine.

Written by my first Suzuki teacher, Susan Kempter, this book is a great guide on how to work with your student on the physical aspects of playing the violin. The book gives principles of how the body works best and gives practical advice on how to set up your student's posture and help them play the instrument with the best physical function. I appreciate Susan's expertise in helping avoid the potential for overuse injuries that are common for upper string players. This book has been a great guide for me as I set up my students. It has also helped me troubleshoot posture and playing imbalances before they become problems. While I strongly recommend this for any teacher of violin and viola students, I also recommend it for parents as they help their child learn to play with the best possible function.

How do I know that this book is so helpful for Suzuki parents? I repeatedly heard my own veteran Suzuki mother tell others how encouraged she was by it! Due to the 14-year spread among my siblings, my mom was the primary practice parent working with young violinists for over two decades! Even after many years of being a Suzuki mom, I remember my mom’s relief as she took a sentence in the first chapter to heart: “Your child doesn’t need for your to be a perfect parent.” Edmund Sprunger follows with emphasis that consistent presence is what parents of Suzuki children need to give their kids. I cannot tell you how many times I heard my mom quote this paragraph to anyone and everyone who needed it, whether they were Suzuki parents worried that they weren’t being a “good enough” practice partner for their child, or non-Suzuki parents feeling guilty about their imperfect parenting. After my mother passed away, I inherited many of her Suzuki and teaching books, and her well-underlined copy of Helping Parents Practice is something I will always treasure.

Helping Parents Practice is available on Amazon or can be directly ordered from Ed Sprunger’s website (possibly at a lower price to you).

This Suzuki biography has been a favorite with my weekly homeschool group class, as we read just a page or two per class. The kids love learning about Dr. Suzuki’s life and feeling connected to him as a person, not just a name on their music books and some mythical person their teacher keeps talking about. It’s written at a level appropriate for children, with cute illustrations for each chapter. It is definitely a great book for parents and their children to read together as they get to know more about the founder of the Suzuki method.


*I only post resources that I truly use and recommend. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a percentage from qualifying purchases. If you find that any of the products I recommend would be useful for you, I appreciate your purchasing them through the links I provide. Simply click the picture or title of each book to purchase, supporting future blogging efforts. Thank you!

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