Suzuki Philosophy is based on this important fact: Virtually all children learn to speak their native language. It is by being immersed with language in the environment that children begin to imitate sounds, repeat sounds, understand the meaning of these sounds and begin to communicate. Thus, children can learn the language of music the same way that they learn to speak which is first and foremost through listening.
Dr. Suzuki called this method the “mother-tongue approach”. He named his school “Talent Education” because of his realization and belief that all children with the right environment can learn music and develop “talent”, or ability.
The Suzuki approach to learning then involves:
- Beginning Early - There is a sensitive period for language acquisition. It is also true that infants are absorbing musical sound from birth. Children are ready to begin lessons as young as 3 years old.
- Listening - Simply through having music in the daily environment the child will begin to understand the sound. This is natural learning.
- Repetition - In language acquisition repetition is important in listening as well as in speaking. Consider the amount of time a baby hears familiar words like “mama” before speaking, and how many times the child repeats that word after learning it to develop ability. After the notes of a piece are learned, the child should continue to play that piece while refining skills. Dr. Suzuki said: “Raise your ability on a piece you can play” and called this Ability Development.
- Parent involvement and nurturing - Parents are involved in the lessons and daily practice. Receiving a positive response from parents is an important part of the motivation to speak, as well as in learning piano! Parents take an active role in all aspects of providing an environment conducive to learning for the child
- Importance of Environment - This means to consider all of the factors that effect the child’s learning and development physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Children will learn naturally from everything in their environment without any specific instruction.
- Core Curriculum - The Suzuki Repertoire becomes the language spoken by the students in the Suzuki piano studio. Discs, observation, recitals, and groups create motivation to play those pieces. In the beginning book these are traditional folk songs. After that, the highest quality standard classical literature is used.
- Performing - All kinds of performance opportunities are a part of the Suzuki program.
- Developmentally Appropriate Reading - Imagine teaching a child to read before they speak. After children can play songs with fluency the “picture” of that sound is introduced. The musical score then represents a picture of the sound the child has already internalized.
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