The Suzuki Triangle – Part 1

The Suzuki Triangle – Part 1

Studio Thoughts – October 2016

On the Suzuki Triangle

Adapted from post by Valerie Malvinni, published Aug 28, 2013 at 09:25 AM in Santa Barbara Violin Tips


The Suzuki Triangle is made up of three people: the student, the parent, and the teacher. All three are crucial for the student to be successful. The Triangle does not privilege any one member, and avoids hierarchy, instead, it fosters openness in communication between every person in the triangle. In other words, all three are equally important in deciding what is right for the student’s learning process at home. For example, if the student only had a working relationship with the teacher at lessons, the home practice might suffer if the student does not fully grasp what the teacher wants him or her to do. In this situation, the parent is needed to fill in any gaps in the student’s understanding of the teacher’s assignments.

At different stages of the student’s learning stages, the person at the top of the triangle changes. In the lessons, the teacher is at the top of the triangle. The teacher is introducing new ideas, demonstrating new preview spots, correcting and improving the student’s playing overall.

At home, the parent, especially at the beginning stage, is the most important. The parent is reviewing with the child what the teacher assigned. Together, the parent and child work through the practice points that were assigned. The parent will stop the child if there are mistakes and will help the child with understanding and completing the assignment. Having the parent’s encouragement and support is necessary for the student’s progress.

As the child grows and becomes accustomed to reading the assignments and reaches a level of independence, the student will be at the top of the triangle. Even though the student, especially in the teenage years, becomes more responsible for practicing, the parent is still important for providing input and encouragement at home. By checking in and listening to the student’s playing, the student will most likely stay on track with the assignment and therefore, make more progress. Thus, at different stages and depending on the child, all three members of the triangle can decide exactly the role of the practice partner and how hands-on they will need to be at home.

In my own family, I am my children’s teacher. This was not always an easy role for me or for my children. Not only was I the teacher, I was also the practice partner. In a sense, my children had lessons every day. This is a lot to ask of young children. Practicing became a chore and no one was enjoying it. My husband is now the practice partner, and with the Suzuki Triangle in place we are all happier. I still teach my children, but my husband does the reviewing. Having these separate roles also makes our time with our children more special.

By teaching, practicing and implementing the Suzuki triangle into my family’s lives, we feel that we have a deeper bond with our children and we know that in the process we are becoming better parents. We believe it has facilitated communication and openness as a family. This has made me a better teacher for my own pupils. I teach them the way I teach my own children, with love, nurture and passion. I believe in what I do and love passing on my experience and musical gift to others. We can honestly say that Suzuki violin has changed our lives by making us a closer family.