The Suzuki method of learning (“talent education”) music was pioneered by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. It is based on what he called the “Mother Tongue Approach, and based on how we all naturally learn to speak our native language.
When Suzuki was a young man, living and studying in Germany, he observed young children easily learning the language which he, as an adult, was struggling to learn. That all children successfully master their own language is a phenomenon most of us take for granted. However, Suzuki became fascinated with this discovery, and began to study and observe the circumstances which occur naturally, in a child’s environment when they are learning to speak.
He realized that applying these principles to other areas of education could be equally successful. Since Suzuki was a professional musician, music seemed an obvious choice of field to which to apply his new ideas.
Among the principles of the Mother Tongue Approach that Suzuki observed were:
- Parents repeat words to the baby every day;
- Parents provide natural excitement and praise to the baby for even the smallest progress;
- Performance opportunities are abundant (for relatives, neighbors, etc.);
- Vocabulary builds on itself; the first words spoken are never discarded or forgotten;
- Children learn to speak long before they learn to read.
Accordingly, in a music program modeled on The Suzuki Method:
- Children listen to recordings of Suzuki pieces on a daily basis;
- Teachers and parents offer praise for successes with the instrument.
- Children have ample performance opportunities through organized solo and group concerts as well as in the essential group lessons, where they play the repertoire with and for their friends and classmates.
- Review pieces are used as the building blocks of learning and are returned to again and again for learning new technical points.
- When the child is comfortable with the instrument and is able to make a beautiful tone, then he/she is ready to focus on note reading.
Dr. Suzuki’s ideas about learning are now widespread around the world. His Talent Education Method is an internationally-known and respected way to instruct children in music, mainly because of its highly successful results both in producing wonderful musicians, and more importantly in Dr. Suzuki’s opinion, wonderful human beings.