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I am a Suzuki violin teacher in Canton, GA.

I believe in making the learning experience fun for young children by using games and imagination to engage them without making practice feel like “work,” and by offering clear, achievable goals to promote successful home practice sessions.

I believe in the value of the whole child. I am not in this to turn out professional musicians (though that can certainly be an outcome), but rather to help enrich the life of the growing child by helping to develop his or her discipline, sensitivity, and expression. I believe that any child can develop musical talent.

ABOUT ME

Laura

I have been playing the violin for 24 years and have been a member of various youth, community, and university orchestras. I have received teacher training through the Atlanta Suzuki Institute and am registered with the Suzuki Association of America. I am part of a rich Suzuki community through which I will continue to receive further training, mentorship, inspiration, and ideas.

I am also a Suzuki mom three times over -- my two daughters are violinists, and my son is a cellist. The experience of working with them has been challenging but so rewarding. We have made memories together, and I have had the delight of seeing my children develop their character and skills through the pursuit of musical excellence. I am excited to share this experience with you and your family.

Laura Cotton

THE SUZUKI METHOD

Who was Dr. Suzuki?

Dr. Shinichi Suzuki was an innovative violin teacher from Japan who believed that any child can reach a high level of ability on the violin given a superior education and environment. Talent is developed, he argued, not inborn. He also believed that in helping children to develop musical skill, he was helping them to form a noble character. In today’s language, we might say that he believed in nurture rather than nature, and that he cared about educating the whole child.

People who met Dr. Suzuki when they were children describe him as a person who saw them as they were, who understood and respected them as no other adult did. Suzuki teachers today strive to be this kind of adult in the lives of the children they work with. We see his genuine love and respect for children as a model for how all children should be treated.

The Mother Tongue Method

Dr. Suzuki based his teaching methods on the way children learn their native language. He observed that a young child can learn even a very difficult dialect this way: by listening daily to the language starting at a very young age, by progressing in small increments, and by making many repetitions of a skill before moving on to the next, all while receiving encouragement and feedback from an engaged parent. He found that by following this pattern, the development of musical ability is just as inevitable as the development of speech in one's native language.

Parent Involvement

The success of the Suzuki method depends on what we call the Suzuki Triangle: a partnership made up of the parent, the teacher, and the student. How you work with your child at home is every bit as important as what I teach in lessons. I offer a parent class that will equip you to be as effective as possible on the five or six days a week when you don’t see me.

FAQ About the Suzuki Method

How can a young child learn to play the violin?

With all students, but especially with little kids, we break down each skill into small steps, so that we are always asking for something the child can do successfully. I ask for a lot of repetition to help things like good posture and good sound become automatic. I also ask that you and your child listen daily to the Suzuki CD -- this will make an immense difference because so much learning will take place while listening.

It’s not a fast process; you have to be patient. It’s much like the process your child went through while learning to talk: we don’t have a timeline, and we don’t criticize when he makes mistakes; we just celebrate the progress he is making. That’s really the spirit of learning I try to encourage.

Do I need to have a musical background to help my child?

Yes and no. It does help for the parent to have some first-hand knowledge of violin technique, so I have set up my program so that I teach parents to play Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star before I give the child his or her first lesson. This also serves to build the child's excitement and offers the child the opportunity to observe lessons and practice habits before beginning. But no prior musical training is required.

Will my child learn to read music?

Absolutely. Suzuki violinists become proficient at music reading, but we teach this skill only after basic playing skills are established, for a couple of reasons. First, we want the child to establish a good technical foundation (bow hold, violin hold, posture, finger placement, bow arm movement, etc.) before we add one more thing for the child to think about. Second, playing by ear at first allows children to enjoy playing more advanced music than they would be reading, much as we might read classic children's literature aloud to a child who cannot yet read it on his own. By approaching it this way, reading skills will not limit progress on the instrument.

I generally begin to teach music reading around Suzuki Book 2. The student will continue to progress on the instrument separately from music reading until reading skills have caught up with playing ability.



 

I played with children so that I could learn from them.

Shinichi Suzuki

When love is deep, much can be accomplished.

Shinichi Suzuki

Beautiful tone, beautiful heart.

Shinichi Suzuki

LESSONS WITH MISS LAURA

Your tuition covers all of the following classes and lessons during the regular school year. It also covers a reduced number of lessons and group classes over the summer. My holiday schedule follows the Cherokee County School calendar.

Parent CLass

Introduces the Suzuki philosophy and method.
Weekly for one month

Parent Lessons

Learn to play the violin, gain confidence for helping your child.
Weekly for one month

Student Lessons

Individual 15- 30- or 45-minute lessons, depending on age and level.
Weekly after first month

Group Class

Group games and activities to develop skill. Student learns to play in a group.
Biweekly after first month

Recitals and Concerts

Group concerts and solo recitals are held throughout the year.
TBA

Graduation Recital

When students complete a Suzuki book, we hold a graduation recital.
Once per book.

Parents are expected to attend all lessons and group classes and to take notes as needed so that teacher recommendations can be followed during practice at home.

FAQ About Lessons

Is my child too young to take lessons?

I accept students as young as 3 years old, but it's important to note that every child is different, and some three-year-olds need a little time to mature before beginning formal music study. I am happy to work with you to determine if now is the right time to begin lessons with your child. If your child does need more time, I recommend that you still go ahead get the Suzuki Book 1 CD (Revised Edition) and begin listening daily. This will allow your child to begin ear training before he is ready for something more formal.

Can I drop my student off for lessons and group classes?

Please plan to stay and observe all of your child's lessons and group classes. The Suzuki method relies on a three-way partnership between the teacher, the parent, and the child, and your involvement is essenal to that. You are the "home teacher," and to help you to be as effective as possible, I ask you to observe and take notes in lessons. At group classes you may sometimes be asked to participate!

Can you help me choose a violin?

Yes! I expect lots of questions about the instrument buying process, especially if you have not done this before. Please don’t be shy -- I have a lot of experience buying violins both large and small, and I am more than happy to help! The right quality and size of instrument can be the difference between a frustrating and a satisfying lesson experience. Violins are not like some other instruments where you can shop for a “make” of instrument, all of which will be virtually identical in quality.

Most violin shops will allow you to bring a violin to your teacher to be tested before a final purchase decision is made. Please take advantage of this option so that I can offer input before a decision is final. I strongly recommend against purchasing a violin on ebay.

What are the expectations for practice?

Daily practice is expected. As a Suzuki mom, I understand that there will be difficult days where practice cannot happen, but the mindset should be that these are the exception and not the rule. Even on difficult days it can be a good idea to have the child play one song to help continue the habit of daily practice. From time to time, I will offer practice challenges for consecutive days of practice to help with establishing or reestablishing daily practice habits.

Can you recommend a summer music camp or any other local events?

We are fortunate in the Atlanta area to have access to many local Suzuki community events. People travel from all over the Southeast (and beyond) to attend the Atlanta Suzuki Institute, a week-long day camp where your child receives daily semi-private and group classes from some of the most experienced and engaging Suzuki teachers from around the country -- and it’s an absolute bargain for those of us who can commute from home rather than reserving a hotel for the week. Consider making room in your annual budget for a week of Suzuki Institute. Having taken my own children to this for years, I can’t say enough good things about it. It is really the highlight of our summer.

I also encourage you to consider attending fall workshops and local graduation recitals, and to make use of parent education resources online.

“Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. 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.”

Shinichi Suzuki

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