What is the Suzuki Method?

The Suzuki method is an educational philosophy based on basic principles of language acquisition and Dr. Suzuki’s belief that “the potential of every child is unlimited”. The ideas of parent responsibility, loving encouragement, and constant repetition are some of the unique features of the Suzuki approach.  

Who was Shinichi Suzuki?

Suzuki education is a teaching method based on the observations of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki (1898-1998).  He observed that all Japanese children speak Japanese and that he could apply this process of language learning to music education. He recognized that talent was not inborn, but learned and a child's environment, not genetics, was key to their success. 

“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.”

Early Beginning

Dr. Suzuki believed that like speech development, music education begins at birth. From birth it is the parent's responsibility to enrich their child's environment with music. Suzuki Method is geared for students to begin as early as 3 years old, however it is never too late to start. 
 

Listening

Listening is a crucial part to the Suzuki Method, much like a child will spend many years listening to their mother tongue, Suzuki students should listen daily to their repertoire. Listening aids greatly in students to learn their pieces quickly but also in unifying tempos and improving ear training. 

Learning with Parents- The Suzuki Triangle

In the Suzuki Method, parents are involved in the musical learning of their child. Parents do not need to be trained musicians but learn alongside their child. They must attend private and group lessons alongside their child and serve as "home teachers" during the week. Occasionally a parent will learn before or alongside their child to understand what a child is expected to learn. The Suzuki Triangle is comprised of the student, parent and teacher, and together they work together to create an enjoyable learning environment. 
 

Repetition & Review

Repetition is another key element to the Suzuki Method. Repetition is essential to learning to play an instrument, like vocabulary, students continue to build and expand their musical vocabulary. Students constantly review pieces by polishing and upgrading them with new knowledge. Review allows students to participate nationwide with other Suzuki students at institutes, workshops, and group classes/concerts. 

Reading Music

A common myth with Suzuki students is that they don't learn how to read music since the method is focus on learning by ear. Much like language, Dr. Suzuki believe that reading should come second. Children learn to speak long before they learn to read, and Dr. Suzuki found children should develop basic technical competence on their instruments before being taught to read music. 

Learning with Other Children

Children learn best when something is fun and they are around peers. Suzuki group classes, institutes and workshops are where students can achieve these settings. Participation in regular group lessons and performances, they learn from and are motivated by other students.  I strongly encourage students to always attend group classes and recitals, as these are some of the most valuable aspects of learning to play an instrument! 

Enjoying Your Child's Learning

Through your active participation in your child's lessons and home practice, you will get to enjoy alongside your child their learning and progress! A deeper bond will be formed as you conquer new challenges and meet new levels of cello playing. You will be a part of a great community of parents and children who are all working and celebrating the same goals. 

Further Reading:

"Nurtured by Love" By Dr. Suzuki 

"Ability Development from Age Zero" By Dr. Suzuki

Suzuki Associations of America

San Diego Suzuki Branch

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© 2019 by Emily Balderrama

 

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