What is the Suzuki Method and how is it different from traditional instrumental instruction?
The Suzuki method was created in Japan by Shinichi Suzuki after WWII. By the 1980s, it had spread to North America and is now taught worldwide.
It differs from other methods in a few key ways. Suzuki observed that children can learn music in the same way they pick up language: through constant listening. Therefore, in the Suzuki Method, students learn by listening first, then learning to read music after a couple of years of instruction.
The other main difference from a traditional instrumental method is that the Suzuki Method has a much higher level of parent involvement, especially during the first few years. Suzuki believed that the parent, the teacher and the child all play n important role in helping the student be successful in learning to play the violin.
Therefore, we require that the parent be present at the child’s lesson every week. Parents are also expected to practice with the child 5 days a week.
More about the Suzuki method:
- After observing young children learning to speak difficult Japanese dialects with ease, Suzuki wondered why all students could not learn music in the same way. He called his method “Mother Tongue Method.” The main idea is that students can pick up music the the same way they pick up language if they hear it all the time. This is why listening to the Suzuki CD is so central to students’ success. Students can only learn a language after hearing it around them consistently.
- The motto of the Suzuki method is “Every Child Can.” Throughout his lie, Suzuki proved time and again that through the Mother Tongue method, every child can learn music. One important point he made, however, is that student growth may be happening before it becomes obvious that the student is learning.
- Musical achievement manifests in much the same way: the parent should not give up on the child just because growth is not evident. Eventually, the child will be able to demonstrate the musicality that has been hiding underneath the surface. When parents have faith that their child will learn, growth can happen.
- Students may seem to move slowly at first, but that is expected as there is so much to learn– position, posture, focus, how to handle the instrument, etc. Once these things are set, however, students have a solid groundwork on which to improve.
Parent expectations for the lesson:
- Parent attendance is required every week.
- Parents are expected to watch quietly during the lesson, and encouraged to ask questions during
a break in instruction. It’s very important that I maintain a teacher-student “bubble” during the lesson, so I ask that parents refrain from jumping in while I am working with the child. Rather, wait until I am done, and then I will let you demonstrate how you have been practicing at home and answer any questions you have.
- Please feel free to ask me to clarify anything you need help understanding so that you are able to help your child at home.
- Always feel free to video record any part of a lesson.
Recommended reading for starting out:
- Nurtured by Love by Shinichi Suzuki
An amazing and inspirational book that gives a great groundwork for the Suzuki philosophy.
- Ability Development from Age Zero by Shinichi Suzuki
Goes into more detail about Suzuki’s methods of instruction.