About the Suzuki Method
The Suzuki method is sometimes known as a mother-tongue approach to learning the language of music and how to play a musical instrument.
It is a method that was developed in Japan by Shinichi Suzuki in the mid to late twentieth century and is now used all over the world.
The success of the method can be seen and heard in so many of the world's music colleges and orchestras which are ever increasingly peopled by children, young adults and fully fledged musicians who owe so much of their ability development to this method of learning. One of the most important tenets of the method is that "every child can". We all learn to speak our mother-tongue language and a firm foundation of the Suzuki approach is that this remains true with music.
I am a trained Suzuki teacher. I was trained and examined by the British Suzuki Music Association over a period of nine years and have completed all 5 levels of the training to gain my Dip. ESA (European Suzuki Association)
So what should you expect as a Suzuki parent?
Here are some of the main characteristics of the Suzuki method which are important to be aware of before you begin lessons
- You do need an acoustic piano and a height adjustable stool to sit on and a footstool (for the children's feet). We use electric pianos for group work only (and even then, only if acoustic pianos are not available).
- We begin when the children are ready and that is usaully around the age of 4 - 5 years old. We start with new families observing the lessons of other children and then, parents may have some lessons with their child observning. Gradually the child begins to take part in the lessons and ever increasingly borrows time from their parents lesson.
- Individual lessons are once a week. For young children 30 minutes and therafter 45 minutes and 60 minutes.
- Families come to my teaching studio for the lessons.
- At least one parent attends all lessons. They are included in the lesson and also take notes. The parent(s) practices with the child every day.
- Initially we learn to play our pieces by listening to recordings of the repertoire. There are seven Suzuki Piano books.
- We do learn to read music - but that comes later on, once an ear before eye foundation has been laid (the mother tongue approach).
- We develop our skills by learning to play pieces. The pieces have been very carefully chosen to give a complete and thorough working knowledge and experience of all the skills we need. Listening, coordination, fine motor skills and natural blanced use of body are examples.
- All Suzuki piano students learn the same repertoire. We have some group classes where they can all play together and learn more about ensemble playing (and eachother).
- The ability to grow through repetition, is a skill we develope. Repetitions must be good repetitions as practice makes permenant.
- There is no rush - every child and parent develop at their own pace. Every child is different.
- We are all learning together - nobility though learning is what we aim to foster.
To give you a glimpse of some of the people and the feel of the methedology overall, here are two short British Suzuki Music Association movies. The second one is aimed at teachers but it's very informative and will I hope give you a glimpse of what our training involves as well as more to reflect on with regard to the method as a whole.
In my experience, it's almost always beneficial to discuss the method with parents to contribute to their understanding of the process, so please feel free to contact me, even if you are just curious.
A great book to read, by way of background, is Suzuki's own book called "Nurtured By Love".