The Suzuki Method is named for its founder, Shinichi Suzuki, of Matsumoto, Japan. He himself referred to it as Talent Education which is a much more descriptive title. The basic premise is that talent can be learned; it is not necessarily something that a person is born with. Music is a gift that all children have access to and when it is introduced early it becomes as natural to them as a first language. While the Suzuki Method can be used at any age, children who begin lessons between ages 3-6 will have the most success. I will include three key elements of the Suzuki method here. For further information, please visit Suzuki Association of the Americas.
• Play by ear first The Suzuki Method teaches children to learn to play by ear before they learn to read music. This reflects the way we learn language--we don't make our children read words before they are allowed to say them; they learn to speak fluently before they learn to read. So with music, they learn to play before they learn to read the notes. This allows students the ability to develop good pitch, rhythm, and position before they add the challenge of reading music. It also allows them to progress faster than they would if they were limited to playing only what they could read. In lessons, we use a lot of playing and repeating back. Each student will also have a CD to listen to at home so that all the pieces are familiar before it comes time to play them.
• Parental Involvement The parent is referred to as the Home Teacher and is involved in all lessons and practice times. This is especially important for younger players since they have a harder time remembering what to practice all week. When the child is learning to hold the bow and position the left hand, I will also teach the parent so that position is properly reinforced at home during the week. Some of my students’ parents have opted to rent a full-size instrument and take lessons as well so they can really learn along with their child. While some families find this to be fun, it is not by any means required or expected.
• Group Class I offer Saturday group classes periodically. We spend most of the time playing our instruments together, but I also incorporate fun music theory games to aid in all-around musicianship. Group class is a great opportunity for children to get to know other young musicians. The younger ones get excited hearing the pieces they have yet to learn, and the older kids enjoy the leadership opportunities. As students progress they are also able to join chamber groups within my studio. There is no extra charge for Saturday group classes and it is expected that all students will attend. We enjoy preparing music to play together in local Christmas strolls and nursing homes.