There are a number of precepts to the Suzuki Method that distinguish it from conventional music teaching. It is not that each of the individual precepts themselves are new. It is the totality of approach that distinguishes the Suzuki Method.
1. Early Beginnings
Although it is never too late to begin study via the Suzuki Method, lessons ideally start before the age of 6. So much development takes place in a child’s early years, Suzuki did not believe these years should be ignored. He felt they should be cultivated with love and care.
Students listen to the recording of the·pieces they will play before they learn to play them. Suzuki felt that, just as in conventional schooling, books are introduced to children only after they have been speaking the language for several years, so written music should only be introduced to the music student once they have been playing for sufficient time. This develops a sophisticated ear for pitch and tone which enables a child to play with greater sensitivity.
3. Complete Mastery
Students of the Suzuki Method stay learning a piece long after they have mastered the notes. They are taught to play from memory which is seen as the starting point for work on proper technique and musicality. They are encouraged to review old pieces where, unencumbered by having to learn new notes, they can work on new technical skills or merely reinforce and sharpen the skills they have already acquired.
4. Common Repertoire
All Suzuki Students learn and follow the same sequence of material. Each instrument has its own repertoire which has been designed to take a child from the very simplest piece (in the Suzuki Method this will be variations on ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’) to the Grade 8 level and beyond.
5. Group Practice
In addition to an individual music lesson, Suzuki students learn in larger groups. Ideally, they would attend a group lesson once a week. Here children benefit from the social aspects of playing together, learn from the different, sometimes higher abilities of others and benefit from the freedom of releasing their own individual sound into a larger whole.
They contribute greatly to the motivation of the students, children’s enthusiasm and enjoyment usually shine out in group situations leading to increased motivation to practise at home. Parents are often actively involved in the group activities, which especially for small children, makes them even more enjoyable. The purpose of the group is to motivate the child by giving him an opportunity to refine his playing skills in the company of his peers, and to increase his confidence in playing. The joy of music is increased when a child discovers he can create music with his friends. It is important to mention that playing in a group or ensemble involves an entirely different set of skills than does solo playing. Ensemble skills take a long time to develop.
Games orientated to develop ear training, coordination, memory, musicianship and ensemble, technique, concentration, solo performing and visual reading skills are often used in group lessons.
6. Parental Involvement
Parents have an active role in the Suzuki Method. Rather than being seen as a liability and kept out of lessons, parents are expected to attend lessons, to take notes and to practise with their children, most fully in the early years. It is not necessary for a parent to be able to play the instrument themselves. The teacher will show them all they need to know in order to help their child. Indeed, many parents have been so inspired helping their children, they have taken up music study themselves.
Children learn to speak their language competently because they speak it every day. So music should be practised every day. Of course, this kind of commitment is difficult to make and Suzuki understood this. He therefore said:
“Only practise on the days you eat.”
8. Trained Teachers
The Suzuki Teacher is not merely able to play an instrument, they have been trained to TEACH. Teachers learn and are expected to perform the Suzuki repertoire as well as a number of other pieces. They are also taught in such areas as child development and psychology and dealing with learning difficulties.
Suzuki wrote an account about his teaching method, how he developed it and some of the results achieved by his pupils. He entitled it “Nurtured By Love.” Nurtured - because Suzuki believed that musical ability lies in all children. He did not believe he was imposing a skill upon a child; he was, rather, guiding them to manifest what they already possessed. Love - because Suzuki music teaching is not about breeding musicians or inculcating skills in children. It is about the amazing results that can be achieved when understanding, sensitivity and discipline are brought together in a single field of study. The glue that binds these various elements together is, Suzuki believed, love.
Classes are being offered to beginners aged 4-6. Cost is $12 per session and registration must be for the entire semester. Registration is now opened.
Beginner class is offered on Saturdays at 12:00 -12:30pm and intermediate classes are offered on Saturdays at 12:30 -1:00pm. Registration is now opened.