More than fifty years ago, Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki realized the implications of the fact that children the world over learn to speak their native language with ease. He began to apply the basic principles of language acquisition to the learning of music, and called his method the Mother-Tongue Approach. The ideas of parent responsibility, loving encouragement, constant repetition, etc, are some of the special features of the Suzuki approach.
The early years are crucial for developing mental processes and muscle coordination. Listening to music should begin at birth; formal training may begin at age three or four, but it is never too late to begin.
Children learn words after hearing them spoken hundreds of times by others. Listening to music every day is important, especially listening to pieces in the Suzuki repertoire so the child knows them immediately.
Constant repetition is essential in learning to play an instrument. Children do not learn a word or piece of music and then discard it. They add it to their vocabulary or repertoire, gradually using it in new and more sophisticated ways.
As with language, the child’s effort to learn an instrument should be met with sincere praise and encouragement. Each child learns at his/her own rate, building on small steps so that each one can be mastered. Children are also encouraged to support each other’s efforts, fostering an attitude of generosity and cooperation.
Children do not practice exercises to learn to talk, but use language for its natural purpose of communication and self-expression. Pieces in the Suzuki repertoire are designed to present technical problems to be learned in the context of the music rather than through dry technical exercises.
Children learn to read after their ability to talk has been well established. In the same way, children should develop basic technical competence on their instruments before being taught to read music.
Once reading has commenced it is practiced on a daily basis and the Suzuki student becomes a confident reader because of this. The reading repertoire is separate from the Suzuki books and students can join ensembles, chamber music and orchestra to further develop their reading skills.
Suzuki Music Graduations
The Graduation is a celebration of the student’s achievement on reaching a high level of playing at each book level.
There are 10 Suzuki books and post book 10+ graduations.
The last graduation is the complete Concerto in E minor by Mendelssohn.
The Graduation piece is recorded with accompaniment and sent into the Victorian Suzuki Association to be audited.
The student will receive a written report and certificate.