What is the Suzuki Method?
Shinichi Suzuki was a violinist, educator, philosopher and humanitarian. Born in 1898, he studied violin in Japan for some years before going to Germany in the 1920s for further study. After the end of World War II, Dr. Suzuki devoted his life to the development of the method he calls Talent Education. Suzuki based his approach on the belief that “Musical ability is not an inborn talent but an ability which can be developed. Any child who is properly trained can develop musical ability, just as all children develop the ability to speak their mother tongue. The potential of every child is unlimited.” Dr. Suzuki’s goal was not simply to develop professional musicians, but to nurture loving human beings and help develop each child’s character through the study of music.
Why are students encouraged to start so early with the Suzuki Method?
The early years are crucial for developing mental processes and muscle coordination. Training the mind and body at such a young age only helps to better equip the student to grow alongside their instrument, both in mind but also physically, making transitions to harder material much more natural. Listening to music is encouraged from birth; and formal training may begin at age three or four. Although starting young is encouraged, it is never too late to begin!
Why is listening such a big part of the Suzuki Method?
Children learn words after hearing them spoken hundreds of times by others. Listening to music every day is important, especially listening to pieces in the Suzuki repertoire so the child knows them immediately.
Why is repetition such a big part of the Suzuki Method?
Constant repetition is essential in learning to play an instrument. Children do not learn a word or piece of music and then discard it. They add it to their vocabulary or repertoire, gradually using it in new and more sophisticated ways.
How can the parent help with this training method?
As when a child learns to talk, parents are involved in the musical learning of their child. They attend lessons with the child and serve as “home teachers” during the week. One parent often learns to play before the child, so that they understands what the child is expected to do. Parents work with the teacher to create an enjoyable learning environment.
Why is an environment of encouragement so important to this training method?
As with language, the child’s effort 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. Children are also encouraged to support each other’s efforts, fostering an attitude of generosity and cooperation. In addition to private lessons, children participate in regular group lessons and performance at which they learn from and are motivated by each other.
What is unique about the repertoire of music presented to the students in the Suzuki Method?
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 technical problems to be learned in the context of the music rather than through dry technical exercises.
What is music reading training delayed in the Suzuki Method?
Children learn 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.