The Suzuki Method is a method of music instruction developed by Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki. While the method was originally developed for violin students, materials are now available for viola, cello, bass, piano, flute, harp, guitar and recorder.
Much of the difference between the Suzuki Method and other methods of musical instruction is a result of the underlying philosophy.
Talent Education: Dr. Suzuki believed that musical ability can be developed in all children. According to Dr. Suzuki, “Musical ability is not an inborn talent but an ability which can be developed. Any child who is properly trained can develop musical ability, just as all children develop the ability to speak their mother tongue. The potential of every child is unlimited.”
“Mother-Tongue Approach”: Dr. Suzuki recognized that all children naturally learn to speak their native language through listening, imitation and encouragement. He applied this concept to music education, calling his method the “mother-tongue approach.”
Character Education: The goal of Suzuki education is not only to develop musicianship, but to develop character through the study of music.“The main concern for parents should be to bring up their children as noble human beings. That is sufficient. If this is not their greatest hope, in the end the child may take a road contrary to their expectations. Children can play very well. We must try to make them splendid in mind and heart also.” —Shinichi Suzuki
Suzuki Music Method: Characteristics
There are several characteristics that differentiate the Suzuki Method from other methods of music instruction:
While it is never too late to begin, Suzuki students often start as early as age three or four.
Listening is at the core of the Suzuki method. Students are encouraged to listen to their pieces every day.
Parents of early Suzuki students participate in lessons with their child and learn how to support the child in practice sessions between lessons.
Group Learning and Performance
In addition to their own private lessons, Suzuki students take part in group lessons. They play often with and for each other in low-key performances, so that performing is very natural to them.
Delayed Music Reading
Just as children learn to talk well before they learn to read, Suzuki students concentrate first on learning basic technique and musical skills through listening and imitation, and then later learn to read music.
Technique Developed Through Repertoire
Instead of tackling separate dry exercises to develop technique, Suzuki students gradually build technique through technical problems presented within the context of musical pieces they learn.
After learning a piece, Suzuki students keep it in their repertoire by reviewing it regularly.