Ten Elements of Suzuki

Ten Key Elements of Suzuki Talent Education Philosophy

1. Begin Early

Children begin learning from their environment from birth. Suzuki has found that children can often learn by musical instruction very well at about the age of three, and in some cases even earlier. Teaching in the U.S. has substantiated this belief.

2. Learn by Memory

Suzuki calls his approach the “Mother Tongue” method. All learning in the early years is without printed music. Children learn by small steps, hence memory is developed in a gradual manner until it becomes a high skill. Small children have an almost uncanny ability to work in this manner, the “natural” manner of language learning.

3. Creative Repetition

The analogy to language learning is obvious, since the small child is encouraged to say the same words over and over again until they are mastered and easily used. Suzuki limits the amount of material on any given level and encourages much repetition.

4. Active Repertory of all Pieces Learned

In one’s native tongue, one never gets to the point where a word is learned only to be forgotten. The Suzuki student continually reviews the repertory he has learned, effectively reinforcing his memory, advancing his technical skill, and therefore giving greater freedom to expand his musical expression.

5. Listening to Recordings

As the mother speaks often to her child, so the violin student hears recordings of the pieces he is to learn and gains expectation of fine violin, cello or piano tone. This is his environment at home, which determines so much of his learning.

6. Involvement with the Parent

Mothers (or Fathers) attend every lesson with their young child; encourage him/er and help him/er practice at home each day. The parent assists the child and teacher creating the routine and environment that will nurture talent and musical development. The parent plays the recordings daily as well as other fine music. Practices daily with the child by recreating the lesson with the teacher, teaches the notes (by rote), drilling the technical material introduced at the lesson, and encourages the child.

7. Encouragement

The mother of a small child doesn’t scold her infant for mispronouncing the words he/she is learning, but encourages him/er to say it again, and again. Likewise, the Suzuki parent must always encourage the child. The lessons should be a happy experience, and the parent and teacher become involved in the marvel of the unfolding process of learning.

8. Step-by-step mastery

Each skill is broken down into small steps easily mastered by the student.  It is imperative that these steps are mastered before attempting the next step, so as to engineer a “built-in” success for each step.  This takes skill on the part of the teacher to assess the potential and limitation of learning at a given point in order to effectively challenge the learner.

9. Reading after physical control

If one uses the analogy of native language learning, one speaks before one learns to read.  By no means, however, should memory learning be ignored once one starts to read notes.

10. Every child can learn

Eliminate the talent test, and believe that they can learn to play the violin or any other instrument in the world.