I started the girls 3 months ago on formal music lessons. For the longest time (R is already 6.5yrs) i have resisted letting R take up piano even though we have a beautiful piano at home (i play the piano myself), because i hadn't been convinced she wanted it enough to be disciplined and practice without me nagging. And then i stumbled upon the Suzuki method.
I was totally sold, and am convinced this is the way to go, particularly for young children. I didn't want my kids to go through the rigours of boring, tuneless, traditional methods of piano learning. The Suzuki method emphasizes a lot more on the tone of music created, the posture, and the playing technique. It's so clear to the kids from the start that what is important is not so much getting the notes right, but creating a beautiful sound, and playing it with the right heart and manner. And to me, that's really what music's about. It's about feeling it, and being immersed in it. And best of all (well, to me, that is), no exams !!! Suzuki believes in playing the music pieces well, so there are selected pieces chosen for 'grading', such that if you perform the piece well, you move to the next level. Simple ! Just enjoying music for what it is.
It also emphasizes more on listening than on reading notes, another aspect i really liked. I, trained the traditional way, can't play tunes i like without having music scores in front of me, and that's just so frustrating. Suzuki teaches them to listen, figure out the notes, and hear the sounds they play. Only after they master this, they learn how to read notes. You can read more about how they teach the Suzuki Method here
After a month of lasting just 5-10mins each session, C (my 3.5yr old) is able to sit through the full 30mins now, visibly enjoying herself, actually hearing a tune being played, (ok... she's still at the first song "Twinkle Twinkle".. ), but still, fingers are all beautifully positioned, and rhythm, perfect. R on the other hand has done some 9 songs and has started playing with both hands ! And all this, from memory ! I'm over the moon.
As a result, i've been inspired and have started jazz piano lessons too, and can play a tune or two from Michael Buble !! Finally, some beautiful 'live' music from our home :)