What is the Suzuki Method?
More than fifty years ago, a Japanese violinist named Shinichi Suzuki noticed that children all over the world learn to speak their native language with easily with the help of their parents. He began to apply the principal of language acquisition basic principles of to the learning of music, and saw great success. His method, which he called the mother-tongue approach serves as the foundation of the Suzuki or Talent Education approach. The same principals that help children learn to speak - parent responsibility, loving encouragement and constant repetition - are some of the special features of the Suzuki approach.
Lessons are 30, 45, or 60 minutes in length. The length of your son or daughter’s lesson is based on his or her age, attention span and skill level. Parents are expected to attend private lesson and take notes to use while acting as the “home teacher” in daily practice sessions. Sometimes (in particular near the beginning) lessons are used as "parent lessons" when he or she needs to learn a specific instrumental technique including posture, intonation or tuning. At least once a year the lesson is used as a parent/teacher conference to discuss the progress made during the year or to prepare for summer practice and study.
The Learning Triangle
The Suzuki Method is based on the idea of the "learning triangle" - student, teacher, and parent work together to help the student advance. The teacher provides instruction and examples during weekly lessons; the parent then plays the part of home teacher in daily practice sessions consisting of review, listening and concentration on new concepts introduced in the week’s lesson. While the idea of being a “home teacher” makes some non-musical parents nervous, a daily practice routine often turns out to be an opportunity to spend quality time with your child, and a way to learn a new skill in the process. All you need is a willingness to learn and spend time with your son or daughter.
Learning to play the violin must happen in a logical, systematic and consistent way in order to be successful. In addition to a pedagogically sound method for developing the physical skills required to play an instrument, the Suzuki method aims to do so in an environment that is positive, supportive and that reflective of the same patience and we experience when a child is learning to speak or walk. The Suzuki Method adheres to this philosophy and, if applied to your child's musical training, will enrich the lives of your entire family. While consistent practice of any skill requires diligence and discipline, this can be accomplished through positive experiences that will in turn teach your child the skills to help them attempt the challenges that life sends their way.
Dr. Suzuki studied the way very small children learn their native language and patterned his mother tongue method after their natural system of learning. By breaking each skill into its smallest parts and having students and parents practice each component consistently, Dr. Suzuki discovered that any child, regardless of aptitude, could learn to play a musical instrument as easily and naturally as learning to walk or talk.