New music program at Wesley Memorial focuses on Suzuki method

Jan. 07, 2013 @ 03:14 AM

A new music education program at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church is for children as young as six months old, and it employs the Suzuki method of teaching. It also pairs children with their parents or grandparents.
Michael Dougherty, director of music and the arts at Wesley Memorial, decided to add a music education program because of requests for classes. He also wanted his own son, 6-year-old Leo, to learn music through the Suzuki method. The nearest classes he could find that are open to the public are in Greensboro, Dougherty said.
The method was developed by Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki more than 50 years ago and is widely used throughout the world.
“Suzuki realized that children learned to speak Japanese by speaking with their parents, so the method itself relies on that relationship to teach the language of music,” Dougherty said. “The parent doesn’t need to be musical. In the beginning, all the parent does is reinforce the technique and use their ears. Anybody can do that.”
Both instructors in Wesley Memorial’s new program, Student Talent Education Program through Strings, are trained and certified to teach Suzuki. Rebekah Carlson teaches violin, and Brian Carter teaches cello. Dougherty, who teaches piano and organ and leads children’s choirs, plans to become certified in the Suzuki method.
Carlson additionally is certified in the Music Together program, which all three instructors consider an important preparation for the Suzuki program. Carlson taught Music Together in Raleigh and found it successful.
“It’s music you move your child to,” Dougherty said. “Rebekah realized kids in Music Together were far more advanced in basic ideas and understanding of music and rhythm.”
The STEPS program is based on the belief that all children are musical and that by immersing children in music — along with a parent or grandparent — learning can progress more quickly and the parent-child bond can be strengthened.
STEPS has two components:
• Music Together, for age 6 months to 5 years, is a group class designed to explore elements of music, including movement and singing.
• Private lessons in violin and cello using Suzuki method, paired with group classes and recitals.
Classes are for a fee, and Dougherty hopes that when people learn about the initial sessions, they will contribute to a scholarship fund for students who can’t afford tuition.
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Details

Music Together: Begins Jan. 14. Sessions begin at 12:30 p.m. on Mondays or Tuesdays. Cost is $150 for a 10-week semester. Class size limited to 12 children; classes are especially successful with multiple children in a family.

Private lessons: Schedule is set with instructor. Also requires participation in group classes, which are held once a week, with opportunities to perform in recitals. Students must supply instruments and books.
Cost for private lessons is $28 for 30-minute session, $42 for 45 minutes, $54 for 60 minutes.
Cost for the group class and recital is $90 per semester, which varies.

Registration, information: Michael Dougherty, 812-4816, mdougherty@wesleymemorial.org