The Suzuki Method of Musical Education
Dr. Shinichi Suzuki (1898-1998) modeled his music education method after the way small children learn their native language. Below are some aspects of what he called the mother tongue approach:
Every Child Can.
Just as every child learns his or her native language, every child can learn to play a musical instrument. Dr. Suzuki did not believe in inborn talent.
A baby will not learn to speak without first hearing the speech of others. In order to develop the ear, Suzuki students spend time listening to professional recordings of the pieces they will play.
Suzuki teachers break each skill into its smallest component parts, so even small children are able to learn. Each instrument has its own graded repertoire, allowing students to progress seamlessly through real pieces.
When a baby learns a new word, she must repeat it many times before it is mastered; so it is with learning a new skill on an instrument. As Dr. Suzuki said, “Ability is knowledge plus 10,000 times.”
We do not discard a new vocabulary word after we have mastered it. When a Suzuki student learns a musical piece, he frequently circles back to it to explore it in more sophisticated ways. Review is often accomplished in group class.
In group classes, students have an opportunity for social interaction with other young musicians at the same level. Children work on performance techniques in a familiar environment built on trust. The confidence they gain here serves them well in more public performances.
Musical Reading Readiness.
A child does not learn to read at the same time she learns how to speak. Likewise, Suzuki students learn to play by ear before they start to read music. Suzuki School of Newton students hone their music reading skills in Musicianship class.
The Learning Triangle.
The triangle is formed by cooperation between student, teacher, and parent. Parents attend all classes, and the three roles are equally important for learning.
Nurtured by Love.
When children learn music in a loving, supportive, and positive environment, they develop the ability to overcome the next challenge that life sends their way.