About Preucil School
Our Mission
Suzuki training is life training.

Mission Statement

The Preucil School of Music seeks to provide excellence in music and early childhood education based on the Suzuki philosophy of instruction.


The Preucil School of Music is dedicated to the development of ability in all children. We teach according to the philosophy of Shinichi Suzuki, who has proven that particular talents are not inborn, and that all children can develop their abilities in music and other areas to a high level if they learn in the manner that they learned to speak their "mother tongue."

The Preucil School offers excellence in early childhood education and music instruction for students of all ages in a caring, nurturing environment. It helps parents and children to share in the learning process, serves as a center for involvement in varied early childhood and musical activities, and attempts to create a rich musical and educational environment in the community.

The Preucil School believes music training is life training, of equal importance to all children regardless of economic status. It aims to keep tuition affordable, and offers aid to those students in need of assistance who demonstrate a desire to learn.

History of the Preucil School

The Preucil School of Music is a non profit, community owned school, which offers excellence in musical training and provides facilities for family centered musical enrichment. It serves 700 students aged three through adult, some from as far away as 200 miles. It is a fully certified member of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts.

Doris Preucil came to Iowa City in 1958 from a career as a performing violinist and established a traditional teaching program for violin. Exposure to the "Talent Education" philosophy of Japanese educator Shinichi Suzuki led her, in January of 1963, to begin one of the first five Suzuki violin programs in the United States. As teachers throughout the state recognized the extraordinary accomplishments of her students, many sought her help in starting such programs in their communities. Her former student, Sonja Zeithamel, became her associate teacher in 1969.

It was soon evident that a central facility was necessary for the expanding program of lessons, group activities, recitals, teacher training and the addition of the other string instruments and piano to the curriculum. Thus, in the fall of 1974, Doris Preucil and her husband, William, a member of the Stradivari Quartet and Professor of Viola at the University of Iowa, purchased the Czechoslovakian Hall, which had been built in 1900 for gatherings of the predominantly northside Czech population. In January of 1975 the building opened as the Preucil School of Music, following careful restoration, which later made it a successful candidate for the National Register of Historic Buildings. In 1997 Doris Preucil retired as Director and Sonja Zeithamel was named the new Director.

The expanded curriculum includes lessons in all strings, piano, harp, flute, voice, ensembles, teacher training, a fine arts oriented preschool and parent-child classes from infancy through preschool. The Suzuki philosophy serves as the basis for all instruction, for beginning students and for those transferring to the program in later stages of development.

In 2002 the Preucil School built an additional facility, known as the North Campus, offering space for our enlarged enrollment. The preschool program, the Morris Early Childhood Education Center, is also housed here.

The Preucil School has achieved international renown through the excellence of the students, the success of its graduates and the workshops presented by William and Doris Preucil, Sonja Zeithamel and other faculty throughout the United States and abroad.

The Suzuki Method

More than 50 years ago, Suzuki recognized the ease with which children learn their native language and began to apply the basic principles of language acquisition to the learning of music. He called his method the Mother-Tongue Approach. The ideas of parent responsibility, loving environment, listening, repetition, and motivation are some of the special features of the Suzuki approach.

Parent Involvement
When a child learns to talk, it is the parents who function as teachers. Parents have an important role as “home teachers” in learning an instrument, too. In the beginning, one parent also learns to play, to better understand the process. The parent attends the child’s lessons and the two practice daily at home.

Early Beginning
The early years are crucial for developing mental processes and muscle coordination. Listening to music should begin at birth; formal training may begin at age three or four. Recent scientific studies stress the importance of early music study in brain development.

Children learn words after hearing them spoken hundreds of times. Listening to music every day is important, especially listening to the pieces in the Suzuki repertoire so the child know them intimately.

Constant repetition is essential in learning to play an instrument. Children do not learn a word or a piece of music and then discard it. They add it to their vocabulary or repertoire, gradually using it in new and more sophisticated ways.

As with language, the child’s efforts to learn an instrument should be met with sincere praise and encouragement. Each child learns at his/her own rate, building on small steps so that each one can be mastered. This creates an environment of enjoyment for child, parent, and teacher.

Learning with Other Children
In addition to private lessons, children participate in regular group lessons and performances at which they learn from and are motivated by each other.

Suzuki Repertoire
Children do not practice exercises to learn to talk, but use language for its natural purpose of communication and self-expression. Pieces in the Suzuki repertoire are designed to present one of two new technical problems to be learned in the context of the music rather than through dry technical exercises.

Delayed Reading
Children are taught to read after their ability to talk has been well established. In the same way, children should develop basic technical competence on their instruments before being taught to read music. When music reading is introduced, it is pursued systematically at each lesson.

Older Students or transfers from other methods
Students of any age can benefit from Suzuki's ideals of natural technique, tone development, and musicianship. The Preucil School welcomes students who transfer from non-Suzuki backgrounds during any stage of advancement.