Suzuki Program


Violin, Cello, Piano, Guitar

About the Suzuki Approach

The Suzuki approach was created by Japanese educator, Dr. Shinichi Suzuki in the mid-1900's. Dr. Suzuki's basic principle is that all children are capable of achieving a high level of artistry if music is learned in the same and natural way in which their native language is acquired. Parents are responsible for creating an environment that includes daily listening, positive reinforcement, creative repetition in daily practice, and attendance at weekly lessons and monthly (piano) or bi-monthly (violin, cello, guitar) group lessons. More information about Dr. Suzuki's inspiration.

Teachers are trained specifically for this method. The community school offers lessons using the Suzuki approach on the violin, piano, guitar, and cello. In the fall and spring semesters, students participate in 14 private and 7 group (violin, cello, and guitar) or 4 group (piano) lessons each semester. Parents attend all private and group lessons and work with the child daily. 

Our Suzuki teachers recommend that parents observe at least one Suzuki lesson and that children attend a semester of one of our early education classes before registering for Suzuki lessons. Children may begin Suzuki lessons at about age four and generally begin lessons in the fall semester, although there are exceptions to this. Admission into the program may require a short meeting of the parent, child, and teacher to determine whether the program is right for the child. Call the office to request this.

Resources for Parents

Classes for All New Suzuki Students

At the beginning of the fall semester, parents of all Suzuki students starting lessons in fall (or who started the previous summer or spring) attend two parent-only orientation sessions with Suzuki violin director Ann Montzka Smelser. Learn more about the Suzuki philosophy, discuss the best ways to work with your child, and learn what to do during your child’s lessons.

Private Lessons

The teacher, student and parent meet each week for a private lesson. There are a total of 14 private lessons in fall and in spring, and six lessons in summer. During lessons, the teacher works on listening skills, posture, rhythm, and tone with the student, while the parent observes and takes notes. The parent works with the child on daily practice and listening throughout the week. A practice planner may be used so that all assignments can be worked on at home for optimal progress. Marilyn Montzka teaches piano. Ann Montzka  Smelser and Laurie Rodriguez teach violin. Eric Schroeder teaches guitar. Thomas Cappaert teaches cello.

Group Lessons

Group lessons are essential to the Suzuki approach. This is a time for parents and students to interact musically and socially while working on repertoire, technique, reading, theory, music history, and ensemble skills. Fees include the cost of both private and group lessons, and, for violin and cello, the cost of piano accompanists’ fees at group lessons and recitals. Attendance at group lessons is required for both parent and child. Group lessons are scheduled in fall and spring, not summer. Check the Suzuki Program Calendar page for dates and times.

First Night Picnic

Violin, cello, and guitar families are invited to a group play-in and picnic. Check the Suzuki Program Calendar page for dates and times.


Suzuki students may participate in recitals at the end of the semester. Check the Suzuki Program Calendar page for dates and times.

Suzuki Workshop 

Suzuki students are invited to join their friends for an inspiring day of playing, master classes, musical activities, and a performance. This workshop is free for all students enrolled in the NIU Suzuki programs. Other Suzuki students are welcome to attend for a small fee. Click below for all the 2018 info.

Suzuki Workshop Schedule
9 - 11 a.m. Group and Master Classes
11 a.m. Short Performance and Q&A with the clinicians
11:45 a.m. Lunch (on your own)
1 p.m - 5 p.m. Group and Master Classes


 Suzuki Lesson Fees

14 Private Lessons and Groups Fall Only/Spring Only

28 Private Lessons and Groups Fall and Spring Semesters

Level 30
Associate Violin/Guitar/Cello $528 $732 $936 $1,056 $1,464 $1,872
Associate Piano $478 $682 $886 $956 $1,364 $1,772
Faculty Violin $622 $873 $1,124 $1,244 $1,746 $2,248