The Suzuki Method
Every Child Can Learn
More than fifty years ago, Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki realized the implications of the fact that children all over the world could learn to speak their native language with ease. He began to apply the basic principles of language acquisition to the learning of music, calling it the mother-tongue approach.
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.
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. It is never too late to begin.
Children learn words after hearing them spoken hundreds of times by others. Listening to the Suzuki repertoire every day is important. The child will know what the songs should sound like when they are played well, and will strive to attain that quality in their own playing.
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.
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 performances where they learn from and are motivated by each other.