Friday, May 2, 2014

About the Suzuki Method

Every Child Can Learn
More than fifty years ago, Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki realized the implications of the fact that children the world over learn to speak their native language with ease. He began to apply the basic principles of language acquisition to the learning of music, and called his method the mother-tongue approach. The ideas of parent responsibility, loving encouragement, constant repetition, etc., are some of the special features of the Suzuki approach.

Parent Involvement
As when a child learns to talk, parents are involved in the musical learning of their child. They attend lessons with the child and serve as “home teachers” during the week. One parent often learns to play before the child, so that s/he understands what the child is expected to do. Parents work with the teacher to create an enjoyable learning environment.

Early Beginning
The early years are crucial for developing mental processes and muscle coordination. Listening to music should begin at birth; formal training may begin at age three or four, but it is never too late to begin.

Children learn words after hearing them spoken hundreds of times by others. Listening to music every day is important, especially listening to pieces in the Suzuki repertoire so the child knows them immediately.
Constant repetition is essential in learning to play an instrument. Children do not learn a word or piece of music and then discard it. They add it to their vocabulary or repertoire, gradually using it in new and more sophisticated ways.

As with language, the child’s effort to learn an instrument should be met with sincere praise and encouragement. Each child learns at his/her own rate, building on small steps so that each one can be mastered. Children are also encouraged to support each other’s efforts, fostering an attitude of generosity and cooperation.

Learning with Other Children
In addition to private lessons, children participate in regular group lessons and performance at which they learn from and are motivated by each other.

Graded Repertoire
Children do not practice exercises to learn to talk, but use language for its natural purpose of communication and self-expression. Pieces in the Suzuki repertoire are designed to present technical problems to be learned in the context of the music rather than through dry technical exercises.

Delayed Reading
Children learn to read after their ability to talk has been well established. In the same way, children should develop basic technical competence on their instruments before being taught to read music.

Are Suzuki Kids Prodigies?
Are Suzuki students musical geniuses? Are they ‘gifted’ children who have a special talent for music? Are their parents professional musicians?
Fortunately, Suzuki students are normal children whose parents may have little or no musical experience. Their parents have simply chosen to introduce them to music through the Suzuki approach, a unique philosophy of music education developed by Shinichi Suzuki.

The Suzuki Legacy
Shinichi Suzuki was a violinist, educator, philosopher and humanitarian. Born in 1898, he studied violin in Japan for some years before going to Germany in the 1920s for further study. After the end of World War II, Dr. Suzuki devoted his life to the development of the method he calls Talent Education.
Suzuki based his approach on the belief that “Musical ability is not an inborn talent but an ability which can be developed. Any child who is properly trained can develop musical ability, just as all children develop the ability to speak their mother tongue. The potential of every child is unlimited.”
Dr. Suzuki’s goal was not simply to develop professional musicians, but to nurture loving human beings and help develop each child’s character through the study of music.

The above article can be found at

Parent Perspective
Early on as a home educated family, we integrated the Suzuki method of learning music into our lifestyle. Our exposer to this method of musical training began when our oldest was 4 and started taking violin lessons at the Wausau Conservatory of Music.  One of my earliest impressions of the Suzuki Method was the flow of communication and relationship between the child, parent and teacher.  I love the level of parental involvement!  WARNING:  These are not the traditional lessons where the child is deposited in a teacher’s home or studio and then retrieved 30 min later.
Music lessons for us are attended armed with notebook, writing utensil, music books, and quiet games or books for the other children to enjoy while they wait for their lesson time.  As the involved parent, I sit in the lesson recording notes that are directed towards me by my child’s teacher concerning the various pieces they are working on. 
These notes are what we use for reference during that child’s daily practice sessions at home during the week; practice sessions that are executed with 100% parental involvement.  This means that if Elsa is practicing ½ hour per day, then I am directing that practice session according to the notes jotted down during that week’s lesson.  I will say that as my kids have gotten older, because of time conflicts, I no longer attend the music lessons of the 2 oldest.  They attend lessons on their own, but the teachers are great at weekly communication, keeping me updated with feedback pertaining to progress.
 I have all 7 lessons scheduled on the same day, because the violin students are also involved in a weekly violin group class.  One child plays with the Wausau Area Youth Symphony and also the Conservatory Chamber Group and the 2 younger violin students are participating in Jr. WAYS this year, so this means we are at the Conservatory 3 days a week.  

Why so much detail? Is all this information really necessary?  Maybe not, but as a parent who is watching our family’s lives being shaped by music, I’m passionate about communicating the benefits and “how-to” of this lifestyle.  Watching your child grow from mastering “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, to playing Vivaldi in a concert is indescribable joy that I would love for more parents to experience.  I have four violinists and three pianist at varying abilities right now, but listening to them play together is so rewarding.  Yes, my kids fuss and argue just like all kids; but music has given them a common ground to gather on and an opportunity for the older to instruct and mentor the younger. 

The key word here, as with home schooling, is Lifestyle.  Keep First Things First.  For our family order is; Jesus, music, school.  Read the Bible, then hit the music. Why music before school? Speaking from experience, I can guarantee that a music lesson is more easily brushed aside than the math or grammar, and it’s easier to fit in an extra math lesson at the end of the week than to make up for missed practice days.

Tips for practice:
Allowing the children to pick a small treat from a designated stash is a great way to wrap up daily practice.
 If you are cheerful about practice, it’s more likely they will be too.
Use non-verbal corrections; a gentle touch on the arm, an adjustment of the bow, a tap on the elbow. 
Keep the talking to a minimum. Children get bored with talking.
Take the lead regardless of what the child appears to want …young children are not very good at making intelligent choices about matters that set their future lives.
A 10 min. happy practice is better than a 30 min grumpy, tearful practice.
The Suzuki method is great at preparing children to perform.  My children love and look forward to the concerts that occur during various times of the year.  Finding a teacher that provides and participates in opportunities for performances is crucial.  If children are not instructed in the beauty of gifting others with their music, playing to create an atmosphere of worship, or for the sole reason of bringing God glory, they are being deprived of a truly complete musical education. 

We are 11 years into this Suzuki experience, and I would not trade one minute of it.  The heavy “ear training” involved in this program has enabled my kid to easily pick up church songs and worship choruses.  Not a day goes by that He is not exalted in our home through music. 


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Music Matters....the benefit of music lessons

Music and math are very much connected.  Musical beat, rhythm, and scales introduced at an early age easily translate into fractions, division and patterns. "More and more studies show a correlation between higher academic achievements with children who are exposed to music," says children's music specialist Meredith LeVande of "Music simply stimulates parts of the brain that are related to reading, math, and emotional development."  Many studies have shown a direct correlation between musical training and improved language development, IQ, Academic performance, creativity, and problem solving skills.

"Further research has shown that participation in music at an early age can help improve a child's learning ability and memory by stimulating different patterns of brain development," says Maestro Eduardo Marturet, a conductor, composer and musical director for the Miami Symphony Orchestra.  Children with music training have significantly better verbal memory that those without such training.  The longer the training, the better the verbal memory.  (Ho,Y.C., Cheung, M.C., & Chan, A. 2003. Neuropsychology, 12)

"Socially, children who become involved in a musical group or ensemble learn important life skills, such as how to relate to others, how to work as a team and appreciate the rewards that come from working together, and the development of leadership skills and discipline," says Marturet, who also oversees the MISO Young Artist program in South Florida, which allows young musicians to hone their musical skills as part of a professional orchestra.  Kids, spanning a wide age range, involved in an orchestra will see value in each participating musician based on dedication, teamwork, discipline, character, and perseverance; not value based on similar age.

"They find that they can develop a skill by themselves, that they can get better and better," says Elizabeth Dotson-Westphalen, a music teacher and performer.  Children who study a musical instrument are more likely to excel in all of their studies, work better in teams, have enhanced critical thinking skills, stay in school, and pursue further education.

Music practice refines discipline and patience.  There are no instant results; learning to play well means persevering through hours, weeks and months of practice.  Children learn the concept of delayed gratification, improved patience, and respect for a method they may not fully understand at the present moment.    

Who doesn't sometimes feel a little disconnected from their lives? Music can be a much-needed connection between children and parents.   "It can satisfy the need to unwind from the worries of life …it makes people more alive and connected with one another," says Michael Jolkovski, a psychologist who specializes in musicians.

In some pursuits, you can never truly learn everything there is to know. Music is like that. "It is inexhaustible -- there is always more to learn," says Jolkovski.  A good music teacher will share with their students how they are still furthering their musical education; how they are still pushing themselves. 

How can kids really express themselves? One great way is through the arts -- like music. "It gives pleasure and expresses nuances of emotional life for which there are no words," says Jolkovski.  Most  importantly, music gives an expressive dimension to our worship and individual communication with our Creator.   Col3:23 “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men”, when music is practiced with this verse in mind, it becomes a sacrifice praise, not just another academic.

To improve in music, you have to not only do well and pay close attention in class, but devote regular time to daily practice.  And not just playing the instrument, but smart practice. That requires discipline.  "Exposing kids to musical instruments is the key. They are naturally curious and excited about them -- and the discipline that parents AND kids learn by sticking with it is a lesson in itself," says Mira Stulberg-Halpert of 3D Learner Inc., who works with children who have ADHD.


Above all, playing music -- particularly as kids get to more advanced levels in it -- is a creative pursuit. Creatively is good for the mind, body and soul.

Cookies... a year later

Here it is a year later and I'm getting around to wrapping up the "cookie" post.  Shame.

Well, it was successful....the kids sold 78 dozen and I decided to try it again this year for the Easter season.

The kids received an enthusiastic response when they started knocking doors and asking friends and family;  we ended up selling 120 dozen without hardly trying!!! It was crazy...people who ordered last year doubled and tripled their order this year.  Seeing that all the money went to missions and youth camps, this has been a worthy cause and the kids and I are up for it again next year!

We are very thankful to see the Lord blessing our efforts.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Slow Death by Baking

Cookies......Cakes......Purses......WMTA (the kids upcoming music competition) are the latest obsessions in the Von Haden house these past few weeks. 

Having two kids in 1440 Youth Group at church, fund-raising is frequently a topic of conversation when it comes to paying for youth camps and conventions.  So, with General Youth Congress happening this year, I decided to step up the effort on my part to generate some income for 1440.  Hmmm,

Reuben is trying his best to convince me to let him decorate a cookie.

Well, I have this thing for making and decorating "Roberta's Famous Cut-out Cookies" and it has even proven to be a source of relaxation after a long day of homeschooling, (Did I really just type that?) therefore I had this great idea to make and sell decorated Easter cookies.  No big deal, just eggs and crosses.  Keep it simple, right? 
Most Awesome Cookie Poster!!!!
Knowing I would need some posters and fliers, I contacted the best graphic designer I knew, Sis Hilderbrand.  Wow, she took the few photos I submitted to her and created the most incredible cookie posters ever!
In fact, one member of my family, living under our    very own roof, forked over $15.00 and pre-ordered
    2 dozen!  I tried to reason with them telling them that
    we may end up with cookies that don't sell, but they
    stood firm and insisted on placing an order to insure
    their share.  (I'm planing on placing the blame on the
    poster designer if this ordering gets out of control!)

            The kids have gone out once so far to collect orders, and that has resulted in over 15 dozen so far.  Jubal told one of our neighbours about the sale and they ordered 2 doz. without even seeing the "Most Awesome Cookie Poster"! 

I've decided the best way to stay ahead on this, is to make and frost cookies every waking hour.  Not really. 

Marilla is a huge help by mixing up batches of cookies and frosting for me as I request them.  She also has a love for baking and has put in late hours helping in the "Sprinkles Dept." as I frost them. 

Last night we were up 'till 11:30 putting the finishing touches on about 80 crosses, drinking tea, and enjoying the opportunity to decorate cookies with out having to have a stand-off with most of the other family members.  The one good thing that will come out of this, if nothing else, is that my kids will be so sick of licking frosting off of beaters and out of bowls, they'll never argue over this privilege again!                                                                                     
After last night, Marilla and I decided that something will have to be done as far as storage.  We are running out of space in our freezers.  What a great problem to have! 
Seeing that this blog entry is just at the beginning of this "Great Cookie Adventure" its a little early to tell how it will all end.  Hopefully, I will be posting a happy and successful ending to my first endeavor into fund raising at the end of the month.
So, in closing; if you need an incredible poster designer, talk to anyone who knows Sis Hilderbrand and her sweet skills; if you want to buy a cookie, give me a ring; and if you want to lick the beaters or the bowl, line up with the kids (Jubal might let you cut in line behind him). 
P.S.  I forgot the part about the cakes and purses, so here's a couple pic's of Andie's 7th Birthday cake from this past week and also the purse I made for one of Elsa's little friend's birthday party she'll be attending in a few days. Also, Simeon and Marilla's WMTA results will be in after they play on Saturday, so I'd recomend that you stay away from the house 'till then. Tension is running high.
In short: Creativity is good for the soul....and the psych ward.
Whoo's Turning 7.....?
Andie Lou Who!

A new design...we'll see how it'll go over.  Jubal had a few things to say about it, if you can imagine that.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Pictorial Updates


The wonderful skating warming house with free skate rentals in our little town.

Elsa after 2 min of skating, now waiting for stitches.

Christmas morning waiting to open the stockings.

2012 Christmas Concert at the Wausau Conservatory of Music.
They played Carol of the Bells and did a beautiful job!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

I'm watching you....always watching!

Sunday.  Crazy schedule.  Rushed morning.  2 hours+ total drive time.  Dishes from dessert last night still in the sink.  Forgot to drink coffee.  Massive headache.  Kids dressing each other.  Mom redressing kids. 

Where is this going?  I'm just trying to justify, to myself, why we ended up at the local Chinese buffet this afternoon after dumping a ton of currency on groceries the day before.  ( I have not been grocery shopping "for real" since before Christmas.)  Every time we step foot in a restaurant, something inside me cringes.  Eating out with 9 people is not exactly budget friendly and I'm forever calculating in my head how much everything would cost if it was coming out of my kitchen, served by my waitstaff.  The only time I don't do this is when we eat at  Shanghai Grill because I could never produce that many different kinds of oriental dishes with the groceries I purchase from Aldi. (A shout out to my favorite store!  Woo Hoo!!)  Anyway, we ate out and I'm ok with

We had been there for about 30 min. and the kids were in full swing of sampling every fried item on the buffet, when on my way back with my second plate; don't judge me, a man siting on the aisle asked me if those were my kids that were making multiple trips to the buffet.  Not missing a beat, I proudly said, "Yes, they are!".  The gentleman proceeded to compliment me on their behavior and how nicely they were dressed.  "I drive city transit," he said "and you don't see kids like that any more.  What ever you're doing, don't stop.  It's working."  About 10 minutes later, a lady stopped by our table and commented on the two younger girls' behavior she had observed while they were in the restroom.  "So polite and such manners!  So encouraging to see....thank you!" 

After these two encounters, I turned to the kids, thanked them for their efforts and reminded them why we use manners and treat others with respect.  Not only because it's pleasing to Jesus, but because it's pleasing to other people.  And, being followers of Jesus we need to show His love and act as He would if He were there,.....because He is!  John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

You don't have to have a large family for more than 2 minutes before you realize that everyone within a 50 yard radius is watching you.  Actually, staring would be a more appropriate term.  So, as a parent, I've learn to use this to my advantage.  As soon as someone is misbehaving I like to gently whisper in their ear, "Everyone is watching you and they're wondering why your acting like a [take 4 years of their current age] year old."  This causes them to glance around quite rapidly and reduce their behavior to silent sulking, or embarassment. 

Some might disagree with this method, wanting to raise their children to not be burdened with worrying about what others think and say about them.....wanting their children to feel "Free to be their own person!" *gag*  Well, this is why I choose to raise my kids to care what others think about their behavior.

I Cor 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.  

We were all born in sin with a sin nature.  That means it's our natural tendancy to sin against God and without his sacrifice, without the shedding his blood, without Him taking our place, we have no hope of salvation from our sin, the curse of eternal death, and seperation from our Creator.  Our 4 oldest children have all come to this realization, and have surrendered their lives to Jesus, asking for His forgiveness, following His command to be baptized, and have received the infilling of the Holy Ghost!  Does this mean they are perfect? NO!  It does mean that when they fall, they repent, get up and keep going.  It means that they are responsive to the prompting of the Holy Ghost and the Godly encouragement of their parents and those God has placed in authority over them.  It means that they know that they've been "bought".  They're not a slave to sin any more.  They have been seperated from the "world".   They are in love with Jesus and they "owe" him their lives.  They represent their Creator and through their actions they are presenting Jesus to their world. 

Way to go Von Haden 6!  I'm so proud to be your Mother.  Keep up the good work and keep pointing to Jesus through your works!  

Matthew 5:16   Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  


Thursday, January 3, 2013


Ah! The New Year...

We spent New Year's Eve with my mom, Roberta, in Eau Claire and were blessed to hear Bro. Ray Nicholls preach at Pentecostal Assembly's New Year's service.
For those of you who may not know, Ray Nicholls was the principal of, and his wife Judy, taught at the school that I attended.  Of the 12+ years I attended New Hope Christian School, they were there for at least 10.  Since then, Ray Nicholls and his wife have spent quite a few years as missionaries traveling to various parts of the former Soviet Union, Europe and the Middle East.
So yes, after not seeing him for about 14 years, I was very excited!  I guess I've referenced his wisdom and Bible teaching more than once, because Simeon mentioned to my mom that night in church, "Wow, this is really great getting to see him in person!"

A missionary a hero?  You bet!  I'm glad my boys don't look to athletes and movie stars for inspiration or examples.  Our culture is lacking true role models, and it pains me to see the "celebrities" parents allow their children to follow on Facebook and Twitter, read about in trashy fashion magazines, obsessing over their "love life", and watching their lame "Reality TV" shows.

My boys' Heroes?  I'm glad you asked.

Their Dad, Eugene
John Tandberg
Ray Nicholls
Derald Hilderbrand
Grandpa Harmsen
Travis Rose
Avery Ritchie
Uncle Tim
Bill Mueller
Adam Zogota
Nick Krcma

This is just a partial list of the Heroes in our family....(you would have tuned out by now if I'd attempted to list them all.)  Oh, you don't recognize the names?  That's O.K.  These men are not about popularity, but holiness, faith, and Godly character. 

So, Thanks to all the men who are "Hero" to my boys.  Please don't become famous or get your own reality show....just be real, Real Men of Faith.

Heb 11:32-34
And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.