Course report for the Suzuki Early Childhood Education teacher training course in Belfast 22nd to 29th July 2017.
I would like to give a huge thank you to the Nannie Jamieson Nutshell Fund Bursary, sponsored by Wittner for contributing to the course costs.
It felt strange to arrive at the Ulster Museum in Belfast without my violin for the SECE (Suzuki Early Childhood Education) but I was not disappointed with the findings. About 30 Suzuki teachers from all over the world convened in Belfast on this course hosted by the wonderful Keri Cassidy-Taylor and presided over by the inspirational Dorothy Jones from Canada whose life work this course and classes really are.
Whilst studying in Japan with Dr Suzuki in the 1980’s, Dr Suzuki advised Dorothy ‘Don’t forget about the babies’ . She took this to heart and has spent the remaining years developing interactive music classes for babies age 0 to 3 embracing the many tenets of the Suzuki philosophy including ‘Every child can learn’, ‘Ability Develops Early’ and ‘Environment Nurtures Growth’
The whole week was spent learning and observing a carefully thought out music curriculum for babies which was more about teaching empathy and compassion through music. The week was filled with nursery rhymes, practising percussion instruments and honing our observational skills for the tiny developmental steps.
The calm and positive feel of the actual classes was a wonder to behold as every baby from about 6 months to aged 2 was totally engaged in the hour long class. Some of the older children displayed some beautiful solo singing in the Cuckoo song and the tidying away the scarves to the ‘Folding scarf’ song was a lesson in team work and cooperation from all.
Before the course I was hoping to develop my understanding of how to teach music to the very young in order to try and build this into my Suzuki teaching (where they can start at age 3 or 4) and it was obvious that children graduating from this program should have a solid musical foundation in terms of pitch, rhythm, dynamics and tempo.
The parents have also been trained to follow instructions, notice and celebrate tiny steps, enjoy repetition, and see the benefits of listening to music regularly. I am looking forward to setting up my own classes in the near future.