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Violin/high school credit for private violin lessons


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Mr. Alpert,  
My family lives in a rural Ohio school district where the only instrumental music class offered is marching band. My son is 16, a sophomore and started learning violin in October 2012. His instructor has 40 years of experience and uses the Suzuki method. Our school district allows students to apply for "flexible credit" for classes that are not offered through the traditional high school setting.  We are wanting to apply for music credit for his violin training but aren't sure what would be considered "a year's worth of violin training" worth 1 Carnegie credit in High School.  Currently he has been on summer break and will begin violin lessons again on Oct. 1st.  He is in the Suzuki Book #1, just finished learning Minuet.  I was thinking to ask the school if he can be tested on Suzuki Book 1 at the end of this 1st semester and be given 1 music credit if he performs whatever music the band director chooses from that book and can answer questions about the topics covered such as care & cleaning, proper holding, form and technique. Then we thought that he could start Suzuki Book 2 in the 2nd semester and hopefully finish it by the end of 1st semester next school year and then test on that and be given another 1 credit in music.  Does that sound fair to you, does it sound attainable?  I have searched everywhere I can think of and cannot find anyone who can help me write this proposal and no resources as to how much a beginning violin student should be able to learn in a school year.  I have attached pages 1 & 2 of the school application. I have pages 3 & 4 but cannot attach them here since two documents is the limit.  Any help, assistance, advice, etc. that you could provide would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you so much.

Hi Lea,

I'll start by saying that your son's teacher is probably the best source of information regarding his progress and achievement.

That being said many students spend close to a year just on Suzuki Book 1; certainly a 16 year old can progress more quickly than that. However I should caution you that progress is very individual. Playing a song doesn't always equate to playing it well.

It would be a huge mistake to try playing the songs at the end of Book 2, if you haven't mastered ALL of the skills that lead up to the song. The Suzuki program is a well thought out system, with a logical progression of skills. Rushing through is a prescription for bad playing habits and eventual failure.

Again, ask your teacher these questions for a more personalized response. I write about the study of the violin on this blog, if you'd like more information:

Best Wishes in your violin journey!

--Bill Alpert


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Bill Alpert


BEFORE YOU ASK, PLEASE NOTE: I cannot answer questions about instrument repair or value. You need to visit a reputable local violin shop for such assistance, or do some reasearch online: I can answer questions related to the study of the violin, teaching violin and the performance of concert (classical) music. I'm happy to assist anyone who is serious about his/her violin journey as a pathway to personal growth and musical achievement.


I am a professional symphony violinist, studio recording musician and also a private studio teacher specializing in the Suzuki Method. I've arranged music for small ensembles and voice, and have contracted musical performances in a variety of venues.

American String Teachers Association, Suzuki Institute of the Americas

B.A. Music, UCLA, California State Polytechnic University, Suzuki Pedagogical studies at the Suzuki Institute of Colorado and at Occidental College.

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