What is the parent role in the Suzuki teaching triangle?

The parent role is an integral part of the Teaching Triangle.

In lessons, the parent is a co-student, paying attention and taking notes, observing the teacher and modelling appropriate behaviour for their child.

At home, the parent continues through the week, the teaching begun in the lesson with the teacher – playing the CD regularly, creating a rich environment and practicing regularly with the child. So if you are in anyway unclear about the goals of practice, make sure to check this with the teacher during the lesson.

“In traditional teaching, or in the average school situation, the parent is a shadowy figure who does not really become involved in the actual teaching situation. In the Suzuki approach, the success of the approach depends on the triangular relationship of parent, teacher, and student, rooted in a strong environment. Each arm of the triangle is of equal length, indicating equal importance.”

Some variables to consider in your role as a parent

The child’s age

  • Practice will depend on the age of the student, as does the level of parent involvement
  • Children need variety, learning with fun especially games and lots of approval
  • All children of all ages enjoy having an audience

They’re rarely too young … and never too old to twinkle! Kay Collier Sloane

The child’s personality

  • Consider the personality of your child which you as their parent will know the best. The aim is to develop cooperation, concentration and competence. These will develop at different rates depending on your child’s personality.

The child’s attitude

  • Positive always – reinforce the skill or behaviour you’d like your child to be learning and always believe they can do it.
  • Look to the environment as the answer to a problem, not the child.
  • Questions work better than telling.
  • Whose brain is growing today? 
  • Set attainable goals.


  • Devoting time, with undivided attention.
  • Regular practice time and length works better, and the time needed will increase over the years although be mindful of the child’s age, tiredness, interest.
  • Observing your child – what are their reactions to things and practice in general.  Do they observe other children playing, concerts, workshops?
  • Repetition and revision is how learning occurs – repeat pieces, listening, skills and behaviours
  • It is the parent’s responsibility to motivate the child to practice and the best way is to do it as soon as possible after the lesson.

The example modelled by a parent

  • What is my behaviour teaching my child?
  • What behaviour do I want my child to learn?
  • Sometimes the example our children absorb is not what we had in mind!
  • Coach – giving support from the sidelines, giving help when absolutely necessary.
  • Education’s purpose is to make your child a self-sufficient learner.


  • Listening to the CD daily – future pieces, current pieces and past pieces
  • Listening to other music recorded by master players
  • Attending professional concerts to hear great music played live – MSO, ACO, String Quartets
  • Attending Suzuki events
  • Attending group lessons
  • Watching other students learn (arriving 5 mins early to watch the previous student’s lesson)

Parent resources

Buy the Suzuki CD and books


Further reading about the Suzuki approach

  • Suzuki, S. (1983) Nurtured by Love: The Classic Approach to Talent Education (2nd Ed). New York: Exposition Press
  • Suzuki, S. (1981) Abilty Development from Age Zero, USA, Alfred Publishing Co, Inc.
  • Sheila Warby, With Love in my heart and a Twinkle in my ear, A Parent’s Guide to Suzuki Music Education, Sydney, Southwood Press
  • Starr, William and Constance (1983) To Learn with Love, Florida, Alfred Publishing Co, Inc.

Suzuki network

Equipment & accessories

  • Stool – a stool at the height of the back of your child’s knees
  • Endpin stopper
  • Rosin
  • Stickers, percussion toys and any aids that will make practice fun
  • Anything that is part of your child’s life is good to use in practice – toys, dolls, drawings, paintings – be as creative as you like.

What is the parent role outside of music?

Dr Michael Zilibowitz – pioneered a great method for deepening your connection with your child – Watch Wait Wonder. Children don’t need to be lavished with adventures and cool things, they just want attention, security, and time to play. With you. It seems counter-intuitive that you need to spend time with a child to help them to be more independent, but these parents show that’s all it takes.

Bronwen Whyatt

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