Suzuki Philosophy

“Begin as early as possible… Create the best possible environment… Use the finest teaching method… Provide a great deal of training… Use the best possible teachers.” (1) This is Dr Shinichi Suzuki’s recipe for developing outstanding ability. He believed that talent was not inborn, and that ability could be developed in any healthy individual, given the right environment and training. 

Suzuki’s inspiration came from a moment of revelation in which he realised that all children learn to speak their native language fluently at a young age. He recognised the important influence that parents have in the development of young children, and the necessity of creating an environment where the child is built up and encouraged. “What better person is there to instruct children than the mother? The mother’s love, her patience, and her dreams make the strength of instruction more powerful than anything.” (2) Suzuki parents attend all lessons with the child and make note of what the child needs to do, so they are able to encourage and support the child at home. No prior musical knowledge is necessary for the parent. Games are used to make the learning experience fun for child, parent and teacher! 

Unlike many traditional music teaching approaches, the Suzuki method encourages students to play by ear and by memory from the beginning. Listening frequently to the pieces to be learnt enables the student to internalise the sounds they want to produce. Playing from memory enables them to focus on developing good posture and technique, as well as developing fine tone. Reading music comes later, after the foundational aspects of playing have been established. 

Learning takes place in small steps. The aim is to make each new task easy for the child to accomplish. This creates confidence and a sense of joy and achievement, encouraging the child to want to learn more. Repertoire is selected in such a way that each new piece builds on what the child has learnt before, and known pieces are reviewed regularly to establish a solid foundation for further learning and to work on refining skills. 

As a trained Suzuki piano teacher, I have experienced the impact that the Suzuki method has made to my students’ learning, and, indeed, to my own playing. My students are happy and play extremely musically. They are confident and always have some piece that they can pull out of their reservoir of repertoire if called upon to perform.

In the words of Suzuki: “There is no need for any of us to despair. We were all born with a high potential, and if we try hard we can all become superior human beings and acquire talent and ability.” (3)

References:

1 Shinichi Suzuki, Ability Development from Age Zero, trans. Mary Louise Nagata, (Summy-Birchard Music, 1961): p.23.
2 Shinichi Suzuki, Young Children’s Talent Education and Its Method, trans. Kyoko Selden, (Summy-Birchard Inc., 1996): p.12.
3 Shinichi Suzuki, Nurtured by Love, trans. Waltraud Suzuki (Melbourne, Australia: Centre Publications, 1969): p.126.