Here are some of the most frequently asked questions I get from
prospective student's parents.  I hope these questions (and answers!)
help you to better understand the Suzuki method and what I do here at
Foothills Guitar Studio.  Please email me if you have any other

Why is the tuition so high?  Actually, the tuition is about normal or a little
lower than what many Suzuki teachers charge.  When you compare my
rates to a “music store” guitar teacher, you’ll find that the hourly cost is
the same or lower.  You will also realize that most of the “music store”
guitar  teachers do not have advanced degrees (often no degree) in
music or music education.  They don’t have an individual lesson plan for
your child, and often have no plan for the sequential advancement of the
student.  At the store you are only paying for private lessons, not an
additional group class. Guitar teachers in music stores most likely won’t
(or can’t) teach about music theory or history, since they don’t know it
themselves.  At Foothills Guitar Studio your child is getting a musical
education, not just guitar lessons.  Your child will learn to read music
and understand the theory behind the music.  They will play in small
ensembles and larger groups.  They will be part of a much larger
“family” of Suzuki guitar students around the world studying the same
literature in a well thought out sequence that progresses to a high level
of performance on the instrument.  My only reason for teaching is to
instill a love of music, especially classical guitar music, in my students,
and to develop their ability to play it.  I am not doing this as a side job
when I’m not playing in a band or waiting to record a CD.  

Frequently Asked Questions
Why the formal dress at recitals?  The standard wear for classical performances is
the tuxedo and formal gown—so we aren’t even close to what the pros are wearing!  
For a little historical perspective, when the Beatles and the Rolling Stones first
started their long successful careers they wore suits when they performed.  The
Suzuki tradition is to wear a white shirt and dark pants or dress.  The students learn
that for special occasions (like recitals) we dress up to look good.  When we look
good we feel good about ourselves and our musical accomplishments.  The recital
is a special time to perform for our families and friends, and we should look good
while we are performing.  The male students at Foothills Guitar Studio have chosen
to wear bow ties with their white shirts, which is great!  I will be following their lead
and do the same at all recitals.

Isn’t 3 a little young to start learning an instrument?  Absolutely not!  Children are
“hard wired” to learn at this age.  Their rapid development of speech, motor skills
and coordination happens at this time.  Of course, you can’t teach a 3-year-old the
same way you do a 7-year-old or a teenager.  You must proceed in small steps with
much repetition, which is the same way they learn their language.  Parents of young
students need to understand that the 3-year-old may not be able to sit for the whole
30 minute lesson.  We may get 20 or even only 10 minutes of concentration at a
time.  When that happens, I’ll switch to other musical games or work with the Home
Coach (parent) on important guitar technique items.  Often just doing that will bring
the young student back to the guitar with interest.  Suzuki teachers are trained in how
to teach young children their instruments.  Ask to see their training certificates—any
reputable Suzuki teacher will have them available, if not already on display in the

Why are the student guitars so expensive?  If you buy your student a cheap, poorly
made instrument you will not be doing him/her a favor.  The instruments that cost
under $100 are made of poorly constructed laminates and sound bad.  They usually
can’t stay in tune and hurt the fingers when played.  We want the students to enjoy
playing their instruments, and to be able to make a beautiful tone when they play—
something you can’t do on a cheap guitar.  When compared to other instruments,
the guitar is actually one of the less expensive instruments to study.  Violinists (and
violists and cellists) spend $400-$600 on a low-quality instrument, several hundred
dollars for a bow, and it goes up from there for the higher quality instruments.  Brass
or woodwind instruments are also $600-$800, pianos several thousand dollars,
drum sets over $1000.  I understand a parent’s concern for the beginning student—
What if he/she doesn’t continue to study the guitar?  That is why I prefer to start the
beginning student on the lowest-acceptable quality classical guitar, from the Strunal
company, made in the Czech Republic.  When the student outgrows the current
instrument and is ready to move up to the next size, that is when I would strongly
urge parents to evaluate their student’s interest in the guitar.  If they have stayed with
the program and are enjoying the music, they should have the best guitar you can
afford at that time.  It will probably cost between $400-$800, but is an investment in
the musical education and overall development of your child.  These guitars, if
properly cared for, do not lose their value and can be sold to another student at the
next growth change.  Remember, part of a parent’s responsibility in the Suzuki
method is to provide an enriching musical environment for the development of the
student.  A proper instrument is part of that environment.

I’ve heard that Suzuki students don’t read music, is that true?  This is a common
misconception.  We begin teaching the reading of music when the child is ready to
read words on the page.  Once a child can interpret letters and begins to read words
in a book, we can start to teach the fundamentals of reading music.  This can begin
around the age of 3, depending on the child.  A child of 3, 4 or 5 will begin learning
the songs by rote (the teacher will first show how to play the notes on the guitar, and
then the student will play the notes).  Depending on the student’s development, this
may continue through Book 2.  At Foothills Guitar Studio I will begin to teach
preparatory music reading skills as soon as possible (within the first few lessons).

There is some historical background for the confusion on reading music:  When Dr.
Suzuki began his Talent Education School in Japan, music education was part of the
Japanese public school curriculum.  He did not have to teach students music theory
and terminology because they were already getting it from the schools.  When he
came to the US and demonstrated his program, people asked him in interviews if he
taught children to read music, and he answered ‘no’ (since the public schools were
teaching them this skill).  These published accounts led people to believe that his
method did not require students to read music, which it really does.  HE just wasn’t
the one teaching them to read the music, the Japanese schools were.

In the US, not all schools (in fact, few!) teach music theory and terminology to all
students.  This is why Suzuki teachers in the US spend time during lessons and
group classes teaching these important musical concepts that are so critical to the
musical development of your child.