The Suzuki Method was developed by Shinichi Suzuki (1898-1998), a Japanese Violinist, and originally declared the “Mother Tongue Approach”. Suzuki believed music should be learned in the same fashion as language.
Suzuki advocated for basic musical exposure to begin at birth and instrumental learning, usually violin or piano, to begin between ages three and four. By spreading out musical experiences over the first few years of a child’s life, parents and teachers can instill coordination and development of musical mental processes in tandem with the child learning how to move and speak.
Emphasis on Parental Participation
Suzuki believed that musical education and enjoyment should be a daily activity. He encouraged parents to attend lessons and learn the instrument before their child so they could demonstrate and explain as needed without the teacher.
The Suzuki Triangle
Each leg of the triangle is equal in importance. All three work together to develop communication and foster community.
- Child — learning, growing, practicing
- Teacher — instructing, demonstrating, providing feedback
- Parent — reviewing, collaborating, encouraging
A key part of Suzuki lessons, group instruction provides children the opportunity to learn with their peers. Children learn early the importance of listening to others when playing together, an invaluable skill for orchestral musicians.
Repertoire and Delayed Reading
The Suzuki method includes sets of music books for each instrument. These books have exercises and songs that are written to be played in stages depending on the level of experience and skill a child has reached. Emphasis is placed on internalizing musical concepts by playing specific songs to contextualize the technique being taught. Additionally, children are taught technique before learning how to read standard notation, much in the same way we learn to speak before we learn to read and write.
Repetition and Praise
Finally, Suzuki placed great importance on the repetition of playing, or practicing, and giving encouragement to students. Incorporating musical practice into the everyday routine and making it a fun family event, helps develop musical ability and appreciation for life.