Expectations & Materials

Required Materials

  • A notebook for the parent to take notes during lessons, or you can use a practice chart or template.

  • Suzuki and other repertoire book(s) as assigned. Beginners will need Suzuki Volume 1 (violin or viola).

  • Audio tracks of Suzuki repertoire. Repertoire books may come with a CD, or you can purchase MP3s separately.

  • Young beginners: cardboard instrument and wooden bow (purchase from the STE office or order online here)

  • Well-maintained instrument, rosin, cotton cloth to wipe instrument, and shoulder rest/sponge. Beginners will be given a sponge in their first lesson.
  • A tuner. Most people use a tuning app. The best are Cleartune or TonalEnergy. Both are available on iOS and Android, for around $5. Gstrings Tuner on Android is free and also good. Here’s how to tune your instrument at home.

Local string shops that sell and rent instruments, Suzuki books & recordings, and other items are Bella Music and Myhre’s Music.  Long & McQuade also carries some books and supplies. The Sound Post is a Canadian online shop that sells books, CDs, and other items.

How to fit your instrument: Raise your left hand out to the side perpendicular to your body, fully extended with a straight arm. Measure the length between your neck and your left wrist. (See diagram below.) This length should be the same as your instrument. If you are in between sizes, I almost always recommend the smaller size of instrument, as an instrument that is too large can cause undue strain on the shoulder and back from the weight and/or on the left fingers from stretching too much, and can even cause injury from this. It’s similar to wearing shoes that are too big: it is not comfortable, can cause pain, and won’t allow you to move in the right ways. Always check with your teacher if you’re unsure.

Violin Sizing: (arm length in inches = size of instrument): 13″=1/32 size; 14″=1/16 size; 15″=1/10 size; 16.5″=1/8 size; 18.5″=1/4 size; 20″=1/2 size; 22″=3/4 size; 23″=4/4 full size.

Viola Sizing: Note: violas around 1/4 size and larger begin to be measured in inches according to the length of the body of the viola (not total length of the viola). It’s confusing, but here are the measurements. (arm length in inches = size of instrument): 13″=1/32 size; 14″=1/16 size; 15″=1/10 size; 16.5″=1/8 size; 18.5″=1/4 size or 10″ viola; 20″= 12-12.5″ viola; 22″=13″ viola; 23″=14″ viola. Sizing may vary for teens and adults up to 16.5″ violas.

wrist violin2
Measure from the neck to the wrist to get your arm length. This will tell you how long the instrument should be.


  • Daily practice. Success comes from daily practicing, and your job as a parent is to practice WITH your child every day, using the notes you take in private lessons. You are the teacher at home, and part of my job is to support that and help you practice successfully with your child.
  • Daily listening to your Suzuki CD (and other recordings, as assigned). Music is an aural (heard) art, so it makes sense to create an environment rich in beautiful music! Learning music is like learning a language, so daily exposure is essential. Some benefits of daily listening:
    • Fosters a love of music, and a love of the sound of your instrument.

    • Is an introduction to the language of music.

    • Provides a model of: beautiful tone, good intonation, expressive playing, steady beat, musical & harmonic structure, etc.

    • Students will learn their pieces entirely by ear (for Book 1 and into Book 2), so they need to know what the piece is supposed to sound like, before they can figure it out on their instruments!

  • Attend individual lessons. Because the parent is the teacher at home when you are practicing, it is essential that you are present and take accurate and detailed notes. More details here.
  • Attend regular group class. Group class is a wonderful opportunity to make music with others, which is one of the best parts of being a musician! Learn more about the many benefits of group class here.
  • Attend performances. Community performances, solo recitals, and other performance opportunities are a wonderful chance to enjoy your child’s performances and recognize their achievement. It allows them to share their music with others, and it’s inspiring for them to hear other students.
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