THE CORE PROGRAM
The majority of our students are enrolled in SSN’s core program, which consists of three weekly classes: an individual lesson, a group class, and a musicianship class. Most students are ready to join the core program at age five.
Individual Lessons involve student, parent, and teacher. There are 16 lessons per semester and lessons can be thirty, forty-five, or sixty minutes long. The length of the lesson is determined by the teacher and takes into account the child's age and skill level. Parents are present for the private lesson and take notes to use while supervising daily practice. Some lessons may involve the parent only to introduce specific instructional techniques and practice strategies, or for a parent/teacher conference about progress made during the year or in preparation for summer practice.
Group Class involves students at the same skill level on the same instrument. They are led by a teacher and accompanied by a pianist. There are 29 group classes per year, plus Play-Ins and Group Recitals. The class provides an opportunity to experience the social aspects of music, learn from peers, polish pieces for performance, and review the repertoire.
Musicianship is a one-of-a-kind program of study designed to span the development of total musical ability from singing and movement games for our youngest students to composition and complex theoretical and harmonic analysis for our most advanced students. There are 29 musicianship classes per year.
Throughout the year, parents meet with faculty to discuss elements of the Suzuki philosophy and issues concerning your child’s development. Furthermore, the director is available for discussing any aspect of your child’s education at SSN.
THE ADVANCED PROGRAM
The Advanced Program consists of a 30, 45 or 60-minute individual lesson and a 45-minute chamber ensemble coaching each week. Students in the advanced program perform on special recitals and ensemble concerts throughout the year and have opportunities for chamber music master classes and workshops with local and nationally recognized professional musicians and teachers.
The musicianship curriculum is organized into a sequence of levels. Each level is a multi-year series of courses that equip the student with a certain set of skills that enable him or her to pass onto the next level with complete confidence. The time required for a given student at each level of the curriculum is dependent on that student's developmental abilities (age, experience, and talent). Placement tests at the beginning of the year and evaluations at the end of the year will help ensure that each student receives the appropriate level of instruction.
From the first day, students are on their feet singing, listening, conducting, and improvising with rudimentary musical materials. The scale is explored as the foundation of music theory. Many of the first exercises are designed to develop the crucial ability to focus on two or more things at once. This skill is one of the developing musician's lifelong pursuits: to control the left hand separately from the right, to control tempos separately from dynamics, and to focus on musical expression separately from the technical difficulties of "just playing the notes". All the basics of musical vocabulary and notation are learned and continually practiced, and students are asked to apply these concepts both to in-class performance and to take-home assignments.
The curriculum is comprised of four primary areas of study: pitch, rhythm, note reading, and theory and composition.
In the beginning, musicianship class is fundamentally skill-oriented. It focuses on the establishment of solid references in pitch, rhythm, and note reading. Successful organization of these references is demonstrated both actively through singing and passively through dictation. Early classes can take on strikingly different characteristics depending upon the age and ability of the students.
As musicianship progresses, classes further expand the skills introduced early on while integrating those skills into a student's natural musical intuitions. This expansion helps the student to develop a more conceptual understanding of how music is constructed ("musical coherence").
Advanced classes return to a more skill-oriented perspective, including a more complete integration of pitch, rhythm, and note reading at an advanced level through solfege performance.
The final stage of musicianship continues to emphasize performance skills and introduces harmonic and formal analysis. Notions of musical coherence are the primary focus, and students' performances are expected to integrate and reflect their understanding of how music is put together.