__ More than fifty years ago, Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki realised the implications of the remarkable fact, that children the world over learn to speak their native language with ease.
"The Suzuki Method is not merely a method for teaching music. The aim is to develop well-balanced, sensitive, self-confident individuals with fine feelings."
The 3 keys to success:
A parent is required to be present and engaged at every lesson, so that they can take on the roll as the ‘home teacher’. Just as they taught their child to speak, they nurture the child's musical development with love, patience and care.
Progress is directly proportional to the amount of listening to the repertoire the child does. Because the repertoire is learnt by ear, having the music they are learning and will be learning playing in their environment, is paramount to success. At least two hours a day of listening is recommended.
Review of previous material already learnt should take up most of the practice time, it is with review that technical skills, and musicality are mastered, and confidence gained.
Benefits of the Suzuki method include improved concentration, memorisation, self-awareness and sensitivity towards other people
On the Suzuki Method
The Suzuki method is effectively an immersion method. It is modelled off the extraordinary fact, that just as every child can effortlessly learn to speak their native tongue, so too every Child can learn to play the violin to great ability.
Dr Suzuki called his teaching method the Mother-tongue Approach, inspired by the fact that every child so effortlessly learns to speak their native tongue. Prompted and encouraged by his parents love, the child responds and develops this most difficult of skills, that of intelligible speech. The Suzuki method closely follows the parallel with learning language, recommending that musical training should also start from birth, and that music should become an important part of the baby’s environment. When the infant’s environment includes the sounds of music as well as his mother tongue, it is understandable that he will develop the ability to speak and to play (with technical guidance) before he is required to read in either language. Because of this, lessons can begin as young as three.
Dr Shinichi Suzuki has shown through his life work that EVERY child can be educated in music and in all other fields of learning, and that the ability itself can be developed in every child who is given the right environment and guidance. The core of Dr Suzuki’s approach is in the individual’s instruction that is given in the child’s weekly lesson, but the parent’s role in this approach is very important. This is to work closely with the teacher, by observing and understanding all lessons, and taking notes. Then at home the parent takes on the active role as home teacher, helping their child learn their chosen instrument with the same skill as they taught their child to speak. Group lessons, workshops, recitals, concerts should then also be attended to help motivate the child.
Listening to Good Music
A fundamental part of the Suzuki Method is the emphases placed on listening to recordings, particularly of the Suzuki repertoire, but also good recordings of other music. Surrounding the child in music is like surrounding them with the spoken word when they learnt to talk. Learning to read music then follows the acquisition of a firm technique, just as we learn to read English after we have developed the ability to speak it. I recommend the recording become a permanent fixture in your home and car. Progress is directly proportional to this listening. If a child is learning incorrect notes or rhythms, it is a direct result of not enough listening. If they are doing enough listening, then they are able to self correct, and progress is more efficient, easy and enjoyable. Good recordings also offer a role model for tone and musicality. These days very fine performances can also be found on youtube.
From the first time the child makes a sound on the instrument, a beautiful sound will be encouraged and nurtured. Above all other skills, this is the most important one.
The Importance of Review and Repetition
With mastery comes confidence, and with confidence comes joy. Good progress depends on establishing solid foundations, so regular repetition is needed to ensure that each step is mastered before proceeding to a new skill and piece. Review of previously learnt material is fundamental to the method. It is required that every previous piece learnt is maintained to a high level. To achieve this, every piece needs to be reviewed on a weekly bases. It is natural that review will take up most of the practice time. It is through this review that thorough mastery of technique and the development of musicality can be developed.
Nurtured by Love
The teacher and the parent’s attitude must always be encouraging, honest, patient, positive and constructive. If this Suzuki method is practiced as Dr Suzuki intended, the real benefits will become apparent in the child’s improved concentration, memorization, self-awareness and sensitivity towards other people. All are qualities, which will enrich the rest of their lives.