The Suzuki Method

For the record, I was not a Suzuki violinist! I was a traditionalist and I am a late comer to the Suzuki philosophy. Before becoming a Suzuki registered teacher, I was very skeptical because all of the criticism I had encountered. Now that I have received my training, I am thrilled that I get to share what I have learned with the families of my students. Your child will be able to learn the violin at an early age, just as he or she learned to speak. Your child will develop a beautiful tone and you will not have to endure the painful “screeching” sound that is often attributed to beginning violin students. With your help, your child will grow and develop and become a wonderful violinist and an even more wonderful person. The Suzuki philosophy doesn’t just focus on one aspect of an individual. Yes, we want beautiful violin technique, but true musical mastery comes from teaching the whole child. Dr. Suzuki has said “Beautiful tone, beautiful heart.” Nothing in life that is worth having comes easy, and learning the violin will not be easy. It will involve a considerable sacrifice of time, effort, and money. I will be there to guide you and to give you every available resource I have.

The following comes from the Suzuki Association of America (with a few adaptations from myself):

More than fifty years ago, Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki realized the implications of the fact that children the world over learn to speak their native language with ease. He began to apply the basic principles of language acquisition to the learning of music, and called his method the mother-tongue approach. The ideas of parent responsibility, loving encouragement, constant repetition, etc., are some of the special features of the Suzuki approach.

Parent Involvement and the Suzuki Triangle

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 “practice partners” during the week. The teacher educates both the child and the parent so that successful practicing can take place at home.

The relationship between the child, parent, and teacher is known as the “Suzuki Triangle” and it essential to the success of the Suzuki method.

Early Beginning

Formal training may begin at age three or four, but it is never too late to begin. Early exposure to music is critical.

Listening

Children learn words after hearing them spoken hundreds of times by others. Listening to music every day is important, especially listening to pieces in the Suzuki repertoire so the child knows them immediately.

Repetition

Constant repetition is essential in learning to play an instrument. Children do not learn a word or piece of music and then discard it. Pieces are upgraded, gradually using it in new and more sophisticated ways.

Encouragement

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 performance at which they learn from and are motivated by each other.

Graded Repertoire

Pieces in the Suzuki repertoire are designed to present technical problems to be learned in the context of the music rather than through dry technical exercises.

Delayed Reading

Children learn to read after their ability to talk has been well established. In the same way, children should develop basic technical competence on their instruments before being taught to read music. Because of this, children are able to play much more complicated music than if they were taught to read music before learning to play it. Learning to read music occurs during Suzuki Book 2 and the playing skills and reading skills merge around Book 4. Reading music becomes a process of recognition instead of painstaking decoding.