Lessons include a mixture of classical and fiddle music and accommodates a wide range of music goals, including AMEB exam completion, orchestra participation, and personal growth.
Mallory aims to provide a focused, progressive, and efficient means of improving violin playing skills while keeping students intrinsically motivated and enjoying music. She uses various games, duets, and exercises to keep lessons and practice fun and engaging for students of all ages. One often hears how it is never too early to start learning music, but it is as just important to remember that it is never too late either!
A Suzuki-based Foundation
Mallory teaches according to a modified Suzuki approach. Shinichi Suzuki, a violinist and teacher from post-World War II Japan, embraced the total development of the child; his guiding principle was “character first, ability second.” Suzuki is often remembered for having declared 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.”
Suzuki taught according to a “mother-tongue” approach. So as with teaching a child to speak, Suzuki, and Mallory, believe the following factors should be emphasized when teaching music:
- Step-by-step mastery
- Parental involvement
Mallory’s Own Adaptation
While Mallory believes strongly in the core principles and values behind the Suzuki approach, she chooses to modify her teaching practice in three main ways:
- An earlier introduction to sight reading.
- Suzuki preferred to introduce sheet music reading only after basic playing skills, good posture, and good tone were mastered. So sometimes his students played only by ear for years before learning to read notes. While Mallory upholds the importance of ear training, she chooses to introduce sight reading at an earlier stage (the exact time depends on age, previous music experience, and the strengths of the individual) as to better prepare students for playing in ensembles, orchestras, and exams.
- A more varied repertoire.
- Suzuki students traditionally adhere to the pieces within the Suzuki books, which are primarily classical in style. Mallory prefers to allow for the simultaneous introduction of alternative repertoire according to the student’s interests. Most commonly this includes Irish, Scottish, and American fiddle music.
- Increased emphasis on adult learning.
- While the Suzuki method centres on learning from age 0, Mallory accentuates the potential for a student to commence their music education at any age. Her oldest student is in his 70s. She is flexible in her teaching style as to accomodate the needs, interests, schedules, and goals of any age group.
Putting Philosophy into Practice
Students are guided in developing good technique, beautiful tone, a good practice ethic, strong theory background, and a musical ear. In the case of a younger student, the learning process happens under the careful supervision of parent and teacher, who together create a nurturing atmosphere for the child to learn music. Emphasis is placed on consistent practice and instruction: fifteen minutes practice a day is far more valuable than the once-a-week practice marathon.
The student is required to actively listen to a recording of the repertoire they are learning. Actively listening is preferably performed while following along with the sheet music. According to Suzuki, one must first be immersed in any language before speaking it.