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Principles of the Suzuki Method

-EVERY CHILD CAN LEARN -

More than forty years ago, Dr Shinichi Suzuki realized the implications of the fact that children the world over can learn to speak their native language with ease. He began to apply the basic principles of language acquisition to the learning of music, and called his method the mother-tongue approach. The ideas of parent responsibility, loving encouragement, imitation and repetition are some of the special features of the Suzuki approach.

Parent Involvement
When a child learns to talk, it is the parents who function most effectively as teachers. Parents have an important role as “home teachers” in the Suzuki method as well. In the beginning one parent often learns to play an instrument along with the child, so that the parents understands what the child is expected to do. The parent attends the child’s lessons and the two practice daily at home. 

Early Beginning
The early years are crucial for developing mental processes and muscle coordination. Listening to music begins at birth; formal training may begin at age three or four. 

Listening
Children learn words after hearing them spoken hundreds of times by others. Listening to music every day is important, especially listening to pieces in the Suzuki repertoire so the child knows them intuitively. 

Repetition
Constant repetition is essential in learning to play an instrument. Children do not learn new words or pieces of music and then discard them. They add them to their vocabulary or repertoire, gradually using them in new and more sophisticated ways.

Encouragement
As with language, the child’s efforts to learn an instrument are met with sincere praise and encouragement. Each child learns as his/her own rate, building on small steps so that each step can be mastered. This creates an environment of enjoyment and success for child, parent, and teacher. 

Learning with Other Children
In addition to private lessons, children participate in regular group lessons and performances at which they learn from and are motivated by each other. 

Graded Repertoire
Children do not practice verbal exercises when they learn to talk. Children use language naturally to communicate and express themselves. Similarly, music in the Suzuki repertoire is sequentially organized so the child learns and develops technique in the context of the music, rather than through dry exercises. 

Delayed Reading
Children are taught to read after their ability to talk has been well established. In the same way, children develop basic technical competence on their instruments before being taught to read music.

SIUC Suzuki School

Lessons available on the campus of SIU

Offering: Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello, Guitar          

Sessions: August–May; Summer (set by instructor)


Paula Melton — melton@siu.edu