“What exactly is the Suzuki Method? Why is it so important, and do kids really not learn to read music?!” I’m asked this all the time by parents wondering what-the-heck the Suzuki Method is. Here all 9 of your burning questions answered!
Who came up with the Suzuki Method?
Shinichi Suzuki was a Japanese violinist who was trained in Germany and after WWII started his Talent Education program in Japan. He realized that children learned to speak the same language their parents spoke with ease. He decided to apply the principles of language learning to music education and found that learning a musical instrument worked relatively the same way with the same results.
Why does it work so well?
The Suzuki Principles are based on the belief that every child will succeed in their task with encouragement and support from parents and teacher, constant repetition, and learning in a community of other like learners. This should be no different when a child is learning a musical instrument, rather than studying math. The most important belief though is that EVERY child has the ability and talent inborn in themselves to make music and enjoy doing it.
What sort of student would benefit from the Suzuki Method?
Quite simply, every child! Usually, Suzuki students are started quite young, at around 3 or 4 years of age, but there is no bad time to start taking lessons! The Suzuki Method is applicable to all students, regardless of their age. We welcome students as young as 3 to start Suzuki lessons at our school!
What is the parental involvement in the Suzuki Method?
To be honest, a lot. Parents are involved 100% of the time in their child’s Suzuki lessons. This is because parents attend weekly lessons and group classes along with their child, and serve as the “home teacher” during the daily home practice sessions. This is a huge investment, which will pay off down the road.
What else is involved in the Suzuki Method?
Repetition and learning are key parts of learning music in the Suzuki Method. Just like when children are learning to speak, they learn musical “ingredients” that are then gradually used in bigger and more sophisticated ways as they progress. Children learn words after hearing them 100’s of times and then speaking them. Listening to the Suzuki repertoire happens every day so that the child will know the pieces immediately!
Do Suzuki students really not learn how to read music?!
This depends on the teacher and the country you live in. At Willowdale School of Music, we believe that a child should first start learning to read and write, then start learning to read music. Learning to write before being able to read would be silly! Therefor we establish basic technical skills and competence before learning to read. If the student is older and already knows how to read and write at the beginning of their music lessons, then reading music will start sooner than a younger student.
Why are group classes a mandatory part of the curriculum?
Children learn from watching others. Group classes cement the principles and skills learned in the private lessons and allow the child to apply them to group music making. Through group classes, children learn to play music with others, give and receive feedback and criticism, play in front of others and are motivated by their peers. They do this all through games and playing their instrument!
Are all teachers who teach with Suzuki books Suzuki teachers?
No! The repertoire in the books is an excellent source of learning material for any student, but if you want your child to learn the Suzuki Method truly in-depth, lessons should be taken from a Suzuki certification trained teacher and enrolled in a Suzuki program with weekly private and group lessons.
What instruments do you offer in the Suzuki Method and how do we sign up?
Currently, we offer Suzuki violin and viola lessons, and hope to add piano and cello to the list in the next few years. You can book a free trial lesson with one of our teachers here, or you can contact us here to ask more questions! If you’re ready to register, go ahead and do that here!
If you are interested in learning more about the Suzuki Method, more information can be found here: https://suzukiassociation.org/
You may be interested in reading more into Shinichi Suzuki's method, and his books and more can be ordered here: https://suzukiassociation.org/store/category/books+by+dr.+shinichi+suzuki/