“Music exists for the purpose of growing an admirable heart.” -Shinichi Suzuki
The Suzuki Method
Dr. Suzuki originally called the Suzuki Method the Mother-Tongue Approach or Talent Education. He observed that children learned language easily and naturally while they are young. Children first hear their parents speak. Then the child begins to learn to speak through experimentation and feedback from their parents. All of this is done at a very early age and certainly before the child can read. It was Dr. Suzuki’s idea that children could learn to play a musical instrument using the Mother Tongue Approach. He experimented with this idea to an incredible degree of success. Since then his method has been adapted and used all over the world. Dr. Suzuki once said: “Musical ability is not an inborn talent, but an ability which can be developed. Any child who is properly trained can develop musical ability just as all children develop the ability to speak their mother tongue. The potential of every child is unlimited.”
Learning a Language
The process of learning music is very similar to the process of learning a language. Consider the process of learning a language:
First, you listen to language from the time of birth. You absorb these sounds and become familiar with the language of your environment.
Second, you try (unsuccessfully) to imitate language. Infants are praised and encouraged in their efforts to “babble.”
Third, you begin to think in the language of your environment. Words and phrases begin to have meaning. You learn these meanings through experiences with your language.
Fourth, you begin to compose your own sentences and are able to engage in conversation.
Finally, after several years of developing your spoken language, you are taught to read and write. The process of reading and writing are made possible by all of the practice you had listening, imitating, thinking, and improvising.
Now consider what would have happened if someone had taught you your language out of order. For example, what if they had taught you to read before you could think, or speak?
The steps taken for language development are the same steps taken using the Suzuki Method. Shinichi Suzuki developed this approach to teaching the violin based on the way children learn to speak a language. He believed that by using this method that all children regardless of initial ability could learn to play the violin. He knew that every child learns at their own pace, and that every child has the ability to learn to perform at the highest level given the opportunity, time, and instruction.
The Ten Principles
Click here for the ten principles of the Suzuki Method.