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In 1945, a Japanese violinist named Shinichi Suzuki began a revolutionary teaching method that would eventually bear his name but which he called "talent education".  His premise was that talent is not inherited, but instead can be developed to a high level in every person.


Dr. Suzuki worked tirelessly to challenge the way we see our children and approach their learning.  His method of learning any instrument has continued to be proven by science.  

The 10 Core Principles of the Suzuki Method


1. Every Child Can Learn

Your child learned to speak because you provided him the opportunity. If a child is surrounded after birth by music, is then encouraged to actively participate in music and to learn to play an instrument, and smallest successes are rewarded with praise and enjoyment, it thus becomes natural for a child to learn an instrument.


2. The Early Beginning

The early years are crucial for developing mental processes and muscle coordination. Listening to music should begin at birth; formal training may begin at age three or four, but it is never too late to begin.


3. Parental Support

You, as parents, are the best specialists for child-appropriate learning, for you successfully taught your child to speak. If you also want to open the door to music for your child, then you should consider the following points:

- Practice with your child every day, even when some days there is less time than necessary.

- If possible, practice should always occur at the same time of day and it should fit well into the daily routine. 

- Your child learns at his own pace, exactly like learning to walk and talk.


4. Listening

Your child should listen to the CD every day. In this way, the student will develop an awareness for beautiful tone, clear rhythm, proper intonation, and musical expressiveness from the very beginning. This ear training is the most important prerequisite for learning new pieces in the first years of lessons. Always remember the principle of learning to speak. Without being literally bathed in speech, learning the mother tongue would be impossible. And just as with language, your child need not always listen attentively. The CD may be played in the background as he plays, baths, eats, or rides in the car.


5. Learning by Ear

An important characteristic of the Mother-Tongue Method is learning without written music during the beginning phase. As your child plays, training of the ear, concentration on rhythm and intonation, attention to posture and movement patterns, tone, and expression are the central themes. In this way, elementary relationships between hearing, conception, feeling, and playing can flow directly together. From the very beginning, your child experiences music as a living whole, not as something to be mastered analytically. This strategy can also be observed in the natural learning of speech: first talk, then read.


6. Observation and Imitation

Children possess a remarkable ability to imitate much of what they see and hear. They rapidly grasp simple songs and can learn the necessary movements for instrumental playing very easily.


7. Encouragement

Suzuki always complimented his students after they played. He explained that, at first, it is the effort that counts and only later the result. His standard sentence was: “Very good, can you... (this or that) even better?” He always stressed that parents should be relaxed and calm while working with their children, since tranquility and cheerful concentration will be reflected in them. Constructive work can only unfold in an atmosphere that is warm and friendly.


8. Review and Internalization

In the beginning, your child should regularly repeat all previously learned pieces and exercises. Just as in learning to speak, the entire vocabulary and grammar are used, not just the most recently learned words. In this way, your child gradually expands his concentration, memory, and performance abilities, and learning is proceeding simultaneously on three different levels:

1. Solidifying and deepening of skills through repetition and review.

2. Expanding skills through work on the new piece.

3. Preparatory work for upcoming challenges via small exercises and listening to future pieces on the CD.

The repertoire is not only being constantly expanded, it is also being refined and internalized. The consequent improvement of previously learned pieces, paired with preparation for the next musical steps, drives the natural learning processes steadily and automatically forwards.

Suzuki summarized the outcome of this learning process with the short formula: “Ability breeds further ability!”


9. The Stimulating Environment

Your own relationship to music has a substantial impact on how your child will learn. Can your child sense a sincere interest and enthusiasm for music in you? The creation of a stimulating musical environment will not only benefit your child, it will maximize the learning process.

♦ Play music of high quality for your child regularly.

♦ Take your child to observe other children often.

♦ Accompany your child to student recitals, workshops and concerts.

♦ Improvise small home concerts for relatives and friends, or for the other parent who cannot regularly attend lessons.

Your active support is absolutely necessary if you want your child to experience the world of music at an early age. Music will not only enrich your child’s life, it will awaken a sense for order, harmony and beauty in everyone involved.


10. Group Lessons

Children learn from each other. Dr. Suzuki supplemented the private lesson with group lessons and mutual lesson observation, because he realized the effectiveness of peer learning. As older students become role models that younger students want to imitate, group lessons provide them with a sense of responsibility, contributing to self-esteem. Younger students learn by example from older, more skillful players--sometimes more efficiently than they learn from the teacher!

Group lessons provide a supportive environment for frequent performance practices. Ensemble skills, performance poise and social skills are learned, while collecting positive memories. In weekly group lessons, children come together to make beautiful music in a nurturing environment - a fertile ground for experiencing the joy of music making and for learning cooperation and a nurturing spirit. The weekly review of familiar repertoire and preview of more advanced pieces in group lessons are strong support for home-practice motivation.

Introduction to the Suzuki Method

The Suzuki method is based on an entirely natural and everyday event -- a small child learning to speak.  Dr. Suzuki took the steps that a child learns to speak--from listening to imitation to thinking to improvization and finally to reading and writing--and applied those steps to learning the language of music.  Using this philosophy, he came up with the core guiding principles of the Suzuki method.

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