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THE SUZUKI METHOD

The Suzuki method was created by Japanese violinist and pedagogue Shinichi Suzuki (1898-1998). After being struck with wonder at how a child can learn to speak their mother tongue with ease he began to apply the basic principals of language acquisition to learning to play a musical instrument. He called this method the mother-tongue approach. He believed that talent was not inborn, but instead could be developed through a nurturing and loving environment. 

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, but it is never too late to begin! To stimulate your child’s ear for music, start by playing high quality recordings at home.  

Listening

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.

Repetition

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. Suzuki students master each technique before moving on. Mastering each composition and slowly moving forward, the student acquires new skills through the selected repertoire, games and exercises. Technical ability is learned through the context of the music. 

Encouragement

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.

Learning with Other Children

In addition to private lessons, children participate in regular group lessons and performance at which they learn from and are motivated by each other.

Learning By Ear

Children learn to read after their ability to talk has been well established. in the same way, children learn to play their instruments by ear and by rote. It's after they've developed basic skills of playing the instrument that they begin to learn how to read.

Observation

Children learn to talk and form habits from watching their parents and being exposed to others in their environment. Much is the same in learning an instrument. Through watching others learn and play a child is absorbing and learning. Observations of other students lessons and group classes are strongly encouraged.

Step-by-step Mastery

Mastering one technique at a time gives the child a sense of accomplishment. A skill can be used in many pieces once it is learned well. Because the child’s ears are so active in learning the sounds of the pieces, the teacher is free to teach the student excellent technique from the very first lesson. This is different from a more traditional approach to music education where the student is taught note reading right away. 

Graded 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 technical problems to be learned in the context of the music rather than through dry technical exercises.


Learning with Other Children

In addition to private lessons, children participate in regular group lessons and performance at which they learn from and are motivated by each other.

Parent Involvement

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 s/he understands what the child is expected to do. Parents work with the teacher to create an enjoyable learning environment.