What is The Suzuki Method?

The Suzuki Philosophy

Dr Suzuki recognised that just as children all over the world have the ability to effortlessly learn to speak their own native tongue, each child has the potential to develop musical ability from an early age through exposure to the right environment, effort and education. He called this the 'Mother Tongue Method'.

The Suzuki Method strives to cultivate more than just musical ability. Dr Suzuki stated that "teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens, noble human beings. If a child hears fine music from the day of his birth, and learns to play it himself, he develops sensitivity, discipline and endurance. He gets beautiful heart".

How the Suzuki Method works

It is through ongoing listening, repetition, step-by-step mastery, motivation, praise and love from parents that children learn to talk. In fact, language development begins before birth when the foetus is able to hear sounds and voices from outside of the mothers body.

Dr Suzuki paralleled this natural process of skill acquisition by applying the Mother Tongue Method to the development of musical ability. Unlike traditional methods of teaching where there is much emphasis placed on music reading, the Suzuki Method instead focuses on teaching the child to play the instrument by ear with a fine tone and sensitivity from an early age.

Daily listening to classical music, particularly the Suzuki CD, is an absolutely essential element of the Suzuki Method. Listening to the Suzuki repertoire helps the child to develop their aural awareness and memorise the pieces. Once the child knows the music in their heart, it will flow easily to their fingers when they come to discovering the notes later on.

As the child advances through the Suzuki books, it is important that they continue to revise the pieces they already know regularly. In the same way that we don't throw out old words when we acquire new ones, old pieces are used to raise ability and aid current learning.

The Role of the Parent

Successful cooperation of the Suzuki Triangle creates the right environment for the child's musical ability to flourish. The teacher, parent and child have equal responsibility in the process. The teacher provides the expertise and instruction on the instrument in the studio, while the parent observes carefully and makes note of what is being taught and implements the instructions at home.

Being a Suzuki parent is an exciting and rewarding role. Before the child picks up the violin, the parent will have already received instruction from the teacher on correct posture and violin playing. From here on in, the parent becomes the 'Home Teacher' and is responsible for creating a positive and nurturing learning environment for the child.

It is very important that a practice routine is established as a part of daily life in the family from the very beginning. Daily listening to the recordings is also an absolute necessity for the child to learn the pieces and develop a beautiful tone. It is the parents responsibility to make sure this happens.

Dr Suzuki emphasised the importance of "Character first. Ability second". The parent must believe that the child can develop a very high level of musicality. The ability of the child can be limited by the attitudes of their teacher, family and especially their parents so we must be careful not to do or say anything that will dampen the spirits of the child. It is important to remember that no two children are the same and learning speeds vary significantly between individuals. It is very important that parents do not compare or criticise children's development. Parents should be positive, light hearted and skilful in encouraging the child. One of the biggest motivators for children is praise from their parents. Celebrate every small achievement. As Dr Suzuki said, "Children learn to smile from their parents".

Individual and Group Activities

In addition to weekly private lessons, all of the students in the studio come together for group lessons on a monthly basis. These group lessons are a fun opportunity for the students to develop their musicality, ensemble skills, correct posture, performance practice and more. All students are expected to attend group lessons. Suzuki students also take part in workshops and concerts throughout the year.

Before Beginning Lessons

It is highly recommended that parents observe some lessons with a Suzuki teacher and learn about the Suzuki method before deciding if the method will be suitable for their family.It is also suggested that all parents of Claire's Violin Studio read Dr Shinichi Suzuki's book, Nurtured by Love. Please talk to Claire if you wish to find out about other inspiring and helpful books on Suzuki philosophy and method.

It is important that all families with a child enrolled at the studio become financial members of the Suzuki Music Association of Victoria. If you have any questions or queries, please don't hesitate to speak with Claire.

© Copyright Claire Ransome 2015

Please visit the Suzuki Music (Victoria) website to learn more: http://www.suzukimusic.org.au/