About The Suzuki Method

Dr_suzuki_05

At Let It Shine, we utilize the "Suzuki Method" of music instruction. I love the Suzuki Method and think it is ideal for children who start music very young.

The Suzuki Method was founded by Shinichi Suzuki. His father owned a violin manufacturing factory in Japan and after hearing some records of violin music, became enthralled with the instrument. As a young man he traveled to Europe to study the violin. In the course of his learning and observation, he noticed a connection between the way children learned their "mother tongue", or how to speak and the way children could learn music. When World War II broke out, civil society in Japan drastically shifted. There was widespread devastation. Mr. Suzuki began to imagine how music could play a role in helping the children in his country to heal.

Mr. Suzuki's observations of language learning included these elements:

1) Children listen to their parents speak the language for nearly a full year before they begin to actually form words. But, they do imitate along the way and when they do, the parent encourages the child in this endeavor.

2)When a word is too difficult the parent will slow the word, break it down into smaller, achievable parts. The child will watch the parent and make many attempts to copy.

3) When the child is unsuccessful at first, the parent never just gives up and says, "oh my child is not gifted, I will not teach her how to speak." The parent continues to be patient, engaged and encouraging until the child is successful.

Instead of thinking about music or art as something that only "talented" people should be encouraged in doing, Mr. Suzuki encouraged teachers and parents to think about music as something anyone could do. And, for this reason he affectionately called this method "Talent Education." We are developing a talent as teachers and parents rather than only selecting a few who seem to "get it" right away. He posited that if a child could do something as difficult as learn a language, the child could be do something less difficult like play the violin.

Mr. Suzuki believed that there are 3 equally integral parts to a child's musical learning. The parent, the teacher, and the student. This is referred to as the Suzuki triangle. The teacher is the guide for the parent and the student in the lesson. But, at home the parent is the child's primary teacher. If a parent understands what should happen the child will have a teacher at home each day. Partly because Suzuki student's typically start before they are school aged, parents in this method stay and take notes, and participate in lessons, which keeps them informed and able to participate in home practice.

Finally, this method is also known for character development. The way this is achieved is through perseverance. Music is not easy to learn, well. It takes dedication, and quite frankly sometimes it takes grit. A child will learn that as they practice they will become better. Sometimes this will be very difficult but their grown-ups will support them, they will keep trying and they will experience successes. Small ones at first, but these add up to wonderful things, musically. Mr. Suzuki is known for the phrase, "beautiful tone, beautiful heart", which I believe is an illustration of the work it takes to get to this place, and the lasting effect it has on the individual who strives.

In practice, Mr. Suzuki was brilliant at simplifying complex tasks into easy, achievable activities. The Suzuki community of teachers are folks that have learned to do this for their instruments. Still, Mr. Suzuki said that there is only one Suzuki method and it was only taught by him. The rest of us can take his ideas and they become our own. =)

I want to share a couple of things with you as you look toward music education for your child.

1) I am a trained Suzuki teacher, however this training is not directly on piano. I have studied teacher materials for this instrument, and transferred my knowledge from Suzuki Violin and Suzuki Flute to the piano, that is I break things down into small easy units for the child as they are learning, etc.

2) I don't strictly adhere to what is traditionally considered Suzuki instruction. I have a great reverence for Mr. Suzuki and his philosophy and most of what I have shared, I draw from as the basis for my instruction. However, I have training in several other methods and I incorporate these to -- hopefully! -- share concepts in the most effective manner.