The Suzuki method, based on the philosophy and teaching of Dr Shinichi Suzuki was developed from his consideration of how children learnt to speak their native language. By adapting the same approach he believed any ability or talent could be developed. His teaching method became known as the Mother Tongue method or Talent Education and is now used to teach music.
The method requires children to listen daily to set repertoire performed by world class players. The music is internalised, learnt aurally and played by memory. Notation is taught in the early stages but is only linked to music once it is fully understood and the child has a good command of the instrument, much like a child first learns to speak, learns the alphabet and finally connections are made between spoken and written words.
Children can join in with Suzuki lessons from a very early age. With an emphasis on fun in early years lessons, much of the foundations of music can be taught from a very early age. Although it is never too late to begin study via the Suzuki Method, lessons ideally start before the age of 5.
Students come to the teacher for their lessons and observe other children learning. This encourages children to aspire to the ability of others as well as accustoms them to playing in public from the very beginning.
Students listen to the recording of the pieces they will play before they learn to play them. This develops a sophisticated ear for pitch and tone which enables a child to play with greater sensitivity.
Students of the Suzuki Method stay learning a piece long after they have mastered the notes. They are taught to play from memory which is seen as the starting point for work on proper technique and musicality. They are encouraged to review old pieces where, unencumbered by having to learn new notes, they can work on new technical skills or merely reinforce and sharpen the skills they have already acquired.
5. Common Repertoire
All Suzuki Students learn and follow the same sequence of material. Each instrument has its own repertoire which has been designed to take a child from the very simplest piece to the Grade 8 level and beyond.
6. Group Practice
In addition to an individual music lesson, Suzuki students learn in larger groups. Here children benefit from the social aspects of playing together, learn from the different, sometimes higher, abilities of others and benefit from the freedom of releasing their own individual sound into a larger whole.
7. Playing in Public
Not only do the children become used to playing in public by having their individual lessons observed, they also are given the opportunity to play in concerts organised by their teacher or, on a larger scale, at one of the regional or national concerts organised by their regional group or the national organisation, the British Suzuki Institute who organise concerts every 2 years in such prestigious concert halls such as The Royal Festival Hall and Symphony Hall in Birmingham.
The Suzuki student’s music is not, therefore, of restrictive benefit. In learning skills through music such as self improvement and overcoming any fear of performance, the Suzuki student can use their ability to enrich the lives of themselves and others.