Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Suzuki method?

The Suzuki method is a philosophy of music education founded by the Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki in the middle of the 20th century. Dr. Suzuki, as he is most often referred to, transformed the world of music education by breaking down the pre-conceived notion that only talented individuals could become musicians. He believed that musical ability was achieved through discipline and hard work and that just as all children are capable of speaking their native language, all children are also all capable of learning the language of music. This concept is often referred to as talent education. Additional features that make Suzuki education different from traditional musical training are that children are encouraged to start from a very young age, children are encouraged to listen to recordings daily, parents are very involved in lessons and practicing in the beginning, and note reading is delayed as children are first taught to play by ear (just as a child learns to talk before learning how to read a book). To read more about the Suzuki method visit https://suzukiassociation.org/about/suzuki-method/

What makes the Suzuki Method so successful and fun for children?

The Suzuki Method is the most popular method of education in the United States and the world. The Method creates very successful and confident children, whose love of and ability in music is apparent when they play. Children love Suzuki group classes; one of the integral features of the Suzuki method is that students interact and learn together in a fun environment, creating lasting friendships. Our Suzuki teachers are all highly skilled professional performers with extensive educational training in the Suzuki Method. This training involves the study of teaching points in the Suzuki pieces, tools and games for working with young children, and understanding of Suzuki philosophy. Suzuki teachers strive to create a nurturing and welcoming learning environment for children. Teachers, parents and students all contribute to a successful Suzuki community, and we look forward to making music together!

What role does the parent play in Suzuki lessons?

Parents play a very important role in their child’s success as a Suzuki student. In the first few years of study, the parent must dedicate a great deal of time and effort to helping their child practice. Dr. Suzuki often referred to the parent as the home teacher; this dedication on the part of the parent creates a lasting, meaningful bond with their child, and is a very rewarding experience for families as they see their child develop and grow into a beautiful musician and kind person. Regular attendance at lessons and group classes help a child thrive in the program and feel successful in their studies, and in addition, parents should be present and attentive at private lessons and group classes. It is very helpful for the parent to take detailed notes in the lesson, and many parents enjoy learning the instrument alongside their child. Parents can help their child by carving out regular practice time in their child’s busy schedule. Additionally, group concerts and dress rehearsals are the culmination of all the work we do during the semester, and all students are expected to participate in these special events. It is a very beneficial experience for students to perform on at least one solo performance during the year as well. Most importantly, parents are the cheerleaders for their children, helping to support and encourage their child and make their child’s musical journey fun!

Why does my child participate in group classes in addition to their private lesson?

Group classes are a vital part of the Suzuki method. Children develop a different set of skills in their group or ensemble class than they do in their private lessons. Both the private and group class are of equal importance. During the private lesson, we hone in on technique and we introduce new pieces and skills. In group class, children develop listening and ensemble skills; they are inspired to excel by their peers, and are motivated by the social interaction and friendships that they form across many years.

Will my child learn how to read music?

Yes, all Suzuki students learn how to read music! In the Suzuki method, note reading is just delayed a few years more than with traditional music methods. When a child learns to start playing an instrument there are so many complex factors to think about. We are asking the child to perform detailed tasks with their body in addition to developing the skills of listening and sensitivity for musical pitch, rhythm and sound. Dr. Suzuki found that students progress much faster if they foster these skills and develop confidence in playing their instrument before they add on the tasks of interpreting written symbols for reading music. Additionally, music reading is delayed until the child has started reading words, so that the skill of tracking left to right with the eyes is already well established.

Where do lessons and classes take place?

All lessons and classes are held at Rolling Hills Presbyterian Church at 9300 Nall Avenue, Overland Park, KS (between 91st and 95th streets).

Where can I rent an instrument?

We have a partnership with the Beckmann Violin Shop that allows us to deliver violin, viola and cello rentals at your lesson without you having to schedule an appointment or travel to schedule repairs or upsizes. Please contact mlbeckmann@gmail.com for more details about rates and sizing. For flute rentals, please contact Mary Shemon directly at kansascityflute@gmail.com

What is a Play-In?

A Play-In is a special group class that happens several times throughout the year. This class combines all of the different level classes on one instrument, into one big class. The violas and cellos typically have a Play-In Class together since they have the same strings, and play many of their Suzuki pieces in the same key. The Play-In dates are on the school calendar, and your Play-In time may be different than your usual group class time. All of the Play-Ins are on Tuesdays and take the place of your regular group class for that week. The Chamber Orchestra will still have it’s regularly scheduled class on Play-In weeks, although the students in the Chamber Orchestra are welcome to participate in the Play-Ins on Tuesdays if they are actively reviewing their Suzuki repertoire.

Can I drop out in the middle of the year?

When you enroll in lessons at the Kansas City Suzuki Academy, you are committing to lessons for the duration of that academic year. Children benefit greatly from the commitment of working through a rough patch, and the whole program thrives if families are dedicated for the full academic year. If you choose to leave before the end of the academic year, please be aware that no refunds will be given. A partial year refund will be given only if you choose to leave within three weeks of your child’s first lesson; after this three-week trial period no refunds will be given.

How do summer lessons work?

Summer lessons will begin the week immediately following the end of the academic calendar. We do not follow a pre-determined calendar in the summer; rather, you and your private teacher will work out a summer lesson schedule that fits with both of your schedules. We strongly encourage all families to take no fewer than two private lessons per month in the summer, so that students have a chance to maintain their playing abilities and not return ‘rusty’ in the fall. There are no group classes in the summer.