I'm surprised I haven't seen this thread until now...
I am a violininst, got my degree in violin performance, and am now teaching about 10 violin students. My youngest is barely six, and I have three adult students. I am not Suzuki trained, but intend to as soon as we have the money and the time, but I am very familiar with the Suzuki method. I use a lot of the techniques when I'm starting students, regardless of their age, and blend in a lot of my own experiences and instinct. The beauty of the Suzuki method is that it teaches that every child can learn to play music, regardless of background. He believes that learning to play an instrument is like learning to speak. he also emphasizes a beautiful sound, and working together with teachers, parents and families. One of my favorite qoutes form his is "Where love is deep, much can be accomplished." I don't think anyone of us here would complain about that.
Now. THat being said, I think that teahing children anything needs to approached individually with each kid. A cookie cutter moethod is never going to work for every kid every time. One of the reasons I don't go crazy teaching the same things every day is because I have to really challenge myself to find a way to get a concept across to each individual student. And, I also put a big emphasis on note reading. We do a lot of listening, and all my beginners go through the first half of the first book or so learning strictly by ear. Whena student is first beginning, there is so much to learn without throwing music reading into the mix. I want my students to feel successful, like they can make msuic, before I throw one more complication at them. But, by the time they are finished witht he first book, they are fluent music readers. I can't emphasize enough the importance of note reading. I loved playing in orchestras throughout my life- and no one can be successful in orchestra if they can't read music.
I have a dd who just turned one, and she is one of the most musically "tuned in" children I have ever seen. She has heard me play since she was conceived, she sits and listens to the lessons I give, (In fact, dh has tried to take her downstairs so she's not in the way while I'm teaching and she crawls to the bottom of the stairs and cries until she can come up and listen to my lessons...) and she has spent the first year of her life coming to work aith me at a very busy music store. She dances and sings, and is so involved in music wherever she sees or hears it. I don't think that I will push her to take formal lessons, but I don't think taht I will keep her from it if she expresses an interest. Dh and I joke about gettng her a tiny 1/16th size violin for her birthday.
Personally, I didn't start playing the violin until I was 12, and feel like I missed out on a lot. Throughout my musical career I would have given anything to have my parents be involved and excited about the things that I was doing. I always get frustrated when people come into the music store where I work and they say that their son or daughter has been begging to play the violin for four or five years. I just think of all they could have accomplished in that time... I guess what I'm trying to say is that whatever you decide to do with music lessons, be involved and encouraging- I think that is the biggest key to your childs' success. (Pun intended!)
Wow. I didn't intend for this to turn out this long. Can you tell it's something I feel passionately about?