THE SUZUKI METHOD
The aim of the Suzuki method is to make it easy for all children to learn and to enjoy making music to the best of their ability. Suzuki teachers believe that all children can derive great benefit from learning to play music, benefits that will extend into other parts of their lives, educationally and socially. The basis of the method is that children can learn music in the same way that they learn to speak - in a very natural way. Hence this method has come to be known as the 'Mother Tongue Approach to music teaching'. It was pioneered by the Japanese musician Dr Shinichi Suzuki (1898 - 1998).
Dr Suzuki believed that – rather than being an innate, perhaps hereditary talent that one is either lucky enough to be born with or not – musicianship is something that can be developed in everyone. He believed that – with an early start, a supportive, nurturing environment, a skilled teacher and of course plenty of practice – every child can become an accomplished musician.
But while many children who study the Suzuki method learn to play music to a very high standard, this wasn’t Dr Suzuki’s primary intention. He believed that studying music would help them become better people, kinder to each other and respectful of each other’s needs. If all children were educated this way (not just in music, but in everything) then this would help bring peace and understanding to the world.
“I want to make good citizens. 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 a beautiful heart.” — Shinichi Suzuki
Children are taught from the very beginning how to listen to sounds and to reproduce a good tone on their instrument. They will each have a recording of the music being learned and should listen to it regularly. There will also be the opportunity to listen to other children playing the same music.
Although all children initially learn to play from memory, it is vital that they eventually learn to read in order to explore new music. Suzuki children will learn to read music when they are ready' - your teacher is trained to decide when this is.
Young children's natural desire to imitate the sounds heard in language learning is harnessed, and with encouragement and enthusiasm from parent and teacher they will quickly become fluent musically, too.
These are held frequently and pupils learn to have fun playing together and for one another. Younger pupils listen to more advanced ones and are inspired to work harder to play those pieces. There are many opportunities for solos and Group Lessons often become mini recitals. Frequent playing before an audience increases self-confidence, and children come to enjoy, rather than fear, playing before others.
Group lessons for piano students are necessarily a bit different as it is not always possible to have several pianos together. Children do play together and for each other and this is supplemented with other activities designed to build up reading skills, introduce aspects of theory and so on. As with other instruments, meeting regularly with other children and playing together builds confidence and friendships are formed.
All large Suzuki concerts climax with a 'Play Together', where children of all abilities go on stage and perform en masse from a common repertoire for their instrument, inevitably a moving experience for both parents and children.