The Suzuki method, also referred to as the “mother-tongue” method, differs from traditional methods of teaching instrumental music because it involves the students at a very early age, thus necessitating much participation on the part of the parent (usually the mother) in the role of home-teacher. Some of the basic principles and ingredients of the Suzuki approach are:
BEGIN AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE
Dr. Suzuki recommends that ability development begins at birth. Formal training may begin at age 2.
MOVE IN SMALL STEPS
This way, the child may master the material with a total sense of success, thereby building his confidence and enthusiasm for learning. Each child progresses at his own pace.
EITHER THE MOTHER OR THE FATHER ATTENDS
Therefore, he or she understands the learning process, and can feel secure when working with the child as home teacher. To this end, the parent receives initial instruction at the lessons in correct playing posture, home teaching techniques, and all of the beginning steps including the playing of a simple piece. The most important single ingredient for success is the parent’s willingness to devote regular time to work closely with the child and teacher.
DAILY LISTENING TO RECORDINGS
Listening to the recordings of the Suzuki repertoire, as well as good music in general, is the nucleus of the Suzuki approach. The more the student listens to his records and tapes, the more quickly he learns. This approach derives from the way all normal children learn to speak their native language.
POSTPONE MUSIC READING
This is done until the child’s aural and instrumental skills are well established, just as we teach children to read a leanguage only after they can speak. This enables the main focus of the teacher’s and student’s attention to be on the sound; beautiful tone, accurate intonation, and musical phrasing then become a basic part of the student’s earliest training.
FOLLOW THE SUZUKI REPERTORY SEQUENCES
This must be done so that each piece becomes a building block for the careful development of technique. Equally important is the strong motivation this standardized repertoire provides: students want to play what they hear other students play. Constant repetition of the old pieces in a student’s repertoire is the secret of the performing ability of Suzuki students.
CREATE IN LESSONS AND HOME PRACTICE
AN ENJOYABLE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
This way, much of the child’s motivation comes from enthusiasm for learning and desire to please. When working with children, we should remember Dr. Suzuki’s exhortation that we must come “down to their physical limitations and up to their sense of wonder and awe.”
SHARED PRIVATE LESSONS AND GROUP CLASSES
AS VALUABLE AIDS TO MOTIVATION
The child learns from advanced students and from his peers possibly just as much as he does from his adult teacher directly. Children love to do what they see and hear other children do.
FOSTER AN ATTITUDE OF COOPERATION
This must be in place of competition among students. Instead, encourage supportiveness of each other’s accomplishments.
The Suzuki Method involves the parent and child in learning an instrument together. The parent attends lesson alone for six to eight weeks to prepare for his/her role as home teacher, and subsequently attends all lessons with the child.
Students learn at home and in the studio in an atmosphere of patience, praise, and encouragement. Lessons can begin at age three or four, or as late as eight or nine. Daily listening to recordings of the Suzuki repertoire helps the student to learn the pieces by ear and at his own pace. This way the instructor has more freedom to teach playing with beautiful tone and phrasing.
Suzuki lessons include regular review of pieces, which builds confidence and security in performing. Music reading is usually introduced when the student has completed the first volume of pieces and has a firm grasp of aural and technical skills. This is comparable to how a child learns first to speak and later to read his native language. Thus, Shinichi Suzuki, who developed this educational philosophy, calls it mother-tongue learning.
Younger Suzuki students learn pre-reading concepts in bi-weekly group classes. Students and parents are schedule so they can observe other students’ lessons, since children learn and are motivated by watching their peers. A non-competitive and supportive atmosphere is established in these lessons.
Parents interested in enrolling in Suzuki lessons observed several lessons and have an orientation with either their Suzuki teacher or the school director.
Talent is not inborn, it is developed in the proper environment.
– Shinichi Suzuki