ABOUT THE SUZUKI METHOD
THE MOTHER-TONGUE APPROACH
Suzuki observed how quickly and easily young children learn to speak their native language. He developed a teaching method that is based on language development. After all, music is indeed a language, and a universal one at that.
A number of things help children in learning their native language. Their environment is a major factor, and parents are a big part of their environment. They listen to others speak and delight in repetition.
Suzuki parents are vital to a young student's success. They are attentive at lessons, turn on recordings and practice with their children every day. They are supportive and encouraging. As children get older, the parent’s involvement gradually diminishes until the child is able to become independent. You do not need extensive musical training to be a good Suzuki parent.
Students listen to the pieces they are working on every day by listening to a skilled musician play. Listening to music by the best musicians will develop the child's ear. They will learn to imitate the sounds that they hear, becoming more sensitive to the various nuances a musician can produce.
“The baby is born. Does he start to say ‘Mama’ the next day? For months he just listens”
Ideally, children listen to good music from birth and begin lessons between the ages of 3 and 5. However, it is never too late to start, and many have successfully become fluent musicians at a later age.
Advantages to starting young:
Younger ears are more sensitive
They delight in repetition
Do not fear failure
Do not distinguish between work and play
It is easier to make a practice routine a natural part of a young child’s day
Their lives are not yet cluttered with extra-curricular activities
Enjoy doing things with their parent and happy to accept help from them
(Adapted from From Every Child Can: An Introduction to Suzuki Education)
Children learn to speak by saying the same words over and over again and parents enjoy and encourage their attempts. Likewise in learning musical skills, repetition is necessary to develop their ability.
Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill.
In language development, children learn to speak well before they learn how to read. However, once they begin learning to read, it becomes a very important part of their education.
In learning an instrument, it is asking a lot of anyone to have good technique, posture, play musically and to read the music in front of them at the beginning. This is why it is best to develop some basic techniques before reading. Suzuki teachers have different approaches to this. I formally introduce reading by the time students start Suzuki Book 2. The starting point depends on their age and how their technique and musicality is developing. Once they begin to read, it becomes a high priority and one that I spend considerable lesson time on. I have spent time developing a sound reading curriculum and my students are good readers.