A Brief Overview of the Suzuki Method
Suzuki is a learning method developed and spread throughout the world by the late Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. A late blooming violinist who ran the family’s violin factory, he was struck by the fact that very young children could speak Japanese. It occurred to him that the way one learns a language could also effectively be applied to music, and the “mother tongue” method as he called it, was born. A very simple, yet brilliant concept.
In language, we first learn to speak by hearing our parents and others, repeating what they say, and later, learning to read language. In the Suzuki Method, learning progresses in the same way, hearing a teacher and parent play — a parent often plays in the beginning as well — and listening to recordings to get the sounds of the music in their ears. This is all followed by their learning to play through imitation and repetition, just as they learn to speak. Reading music follows anywhere from 2 – 3 years later, depending on the development of the student, generally not long after they’ve begun reading language in their native tongue.
Students can begin as young as 3 years old, when their curiosity and use of repetition as a learning tool are already very much engaged, but it is never too late to start and the method can be just as effectively put to use for any age group, including adult beginners. Although many great artists have gotten their start through this method, Dr. Suzuki’s goal was not simply to develop professional musicians, but to nurture the whole person and help develop each child’s character through the study of music. The emphasis on the triad of the student, parent, and teacher with clearly defined roles assures an environment that focuses on the central idea that a child’s work is their play.