TESS Curriculum

Cello Pre-Twinkle at RecitalPre-Twinkle

All students begin at a beginning level referred to as the Pre-Twinkle Level. At this time they learn the basic posture necessary for playing, elementary rhythms and notes, and acquire general knowledge about their instruments. They also begin listening to the Suzuki CD and practicing daily. Another important component of this level is learning how to take a music lesson, to respond to the teacher with respect and to work at home with the parent.

Guitar Twinkler at RecitalTwinkle

At the Twinkle level, the students are learning how to “learn” music: master the necessary technique, commit the music to memory, and perform it without assistance from the teacher or parent. They also will become familiar with the notes on a staff and most rhythmic patterns. Students begin refining the skills developed at the Pre-Twinkle Level and develop a habit of daily listening and practice. While each student progresses at their own pace, most students require at least one semester of study, and often two, to complete this critical foundation level. This study culminates in a Twinkle Graduation for their group class in which they perform Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and the various variations with basic skills in evidence. At graduation, they receive the CD for Book 2 (for early listening) and get to join the school’s Twinkle Garden!

Violinist performing at RecitalBooks 1-4

This level contains the balance of pieces from the first CD and subsequent books. Each piece has at least one teaching point that will be previewed prior to formal study of that piece and must be mastered prior to continuing on to the next piece. All of the pieces are reviewed on a daily basis, creating a growing repertoire that students can draw on for impromptu performances for friends and family. In this way they accumulate skills throughout Book 1. At this level, group class time is divided between Repertoire Class and Musicianship Class. The Repertoire Class is instrument-specific and continues to provide the social element and ensemble training. The Musicianship Class furthers an understanding of music reading and theory. The Book 1 level culminates in a Book 1 Graduation Recital for friends and family during which students perform the entire repertoire with the skills developed in Book 1 in evidence. At graduation, they receive Book 2 and the CD for Book 3 for early listening. This pattern is repeated for all subsequent books.

String Quartet at Master ClassBook 4 and Beyond

After a student has completed Book 4, they have completed the Beginning Levels of Suzuki instruction. Books 4-6 are considered to be an Intermediate level. Having completed the Musicianship (music theory) program, they may continue their studies with private composition instruction with our Composer in Residence, Nick Revel. Their group classes at this level consist of a sampling of the Advanced Program elective classes as well as review of their foundational Suzuki repertoire. On an individual basis and with private teacher recommendation, students then grow in to the Advanced Program, which offers a variety of elective classes in audition preparation, sight reading, chamber ensembles, theory, history, and more. Additionally, an Advanced student may participate in group classes offered through the Alternative Music Program, including studies in jazz, rock, electric violin, and improvisation. The Advanced and Alternative programs are available to TESS and non-TESS students.