The Suzuki method was established in Japan in the 1940's by Dr Shinichi Suzuki. He looked to develop a successful method for very young children (as young as 3 and 4) to learn the violin.
Some of the key features are as follows:
• Mother Tongue approach (in the same way a child learns their first few words from parents)
• Suzuki Triangle (Teacher, Child, Parent as a unit, working together for the good of the child)
• Ability development (a gradual building of a skill with constant repetition and environment)
Suzuki believed the method was more than just teaching a child to play an instrument, rather it focused on the whole person:
“Music exists for the purpose of growing an admirable heart”
“What I intend is not education for creating prodigies, but rather, a mode of cultivating the abilities of children by means of the violin”
He saw the value of fostering of a beautiful heart, sensitivity, discipline and endurance through their study of the violin. This principle of developing a child's character would help them succeed in life in any field they chose be it violin or something else entirely.
The Suzuki method encourages a very focused musical ear (daily Cd listening and problem solving “figuring out the tune”). It also encourages the child to strive for beauty in their sound and to aspire to have high expectations for oneself but at the same time supports the child moving at a pace appropriate to them, patience and perseverance going hand in hand. This is a real strength of the Suzuki method, placing an emphasis on the goal of sharing and performing and not on the conventional exam-based model, which discourages the typical “successful child” from working harder, and can diminish the self esteem of a child who is struggling. Dr Suzuki believed “every child can,” once the right support is there for them. Put the tools they need into their environment and they will absorb it as children do.
Strengths of the Suzuki method
• Thorough method of learning violin, very positive and encouraging where you put music into the child's environment and they absorb it. When they are surrounded by it and supported by both teacher and parent, they build an interest without having to be forced. This makes the process a natural process.
• Suzuki method has a huge focus on listening. The child needs to listen to the Cd daily, it can on in the background during meals, when they wake up and go to bad, in the car, on the tablet. The more they listen the more they already have the music internalized and everything then feels 'familiar.' This is the beauty of the suzuki method then, as they figure out the tunes they know so well, they enjoy the process.
• The Suzuki method also strives for a high level of musicianship, not just learning pieces one after another but building skills to make truly beautiful music. It teaches children to really listen deeply, and self assess their sound, to aim high and strive for a sense of quality.
• There is very much a sense of “every child can” in the suzuki method as ability develops, as the child moves forward. It builds and builds gradually and at the child's own pace.
• There are many good reasons for learning an instrument, one is simply for the joy of playing music and that you can share it with people your whole life. It also encourages a work ethic from a young age. We carefully plan how to teach a new skill in small segments that are achievable and leave the child feeling happy and able, but there is still work that has to be done and it is a valuable lesson the child learns. In working hard for something and getting to the other side of the challenge, they recognizing the value of the effort. We praise the effort always, not whether it's perfect but the journey that went into it. This encourages a
child to strive to learn and also resilience against challenges, that then flow into other areas of life. Within the context of the group, patience and kindness to others, as well as self awareness are key character building skills that are encouraged when learning with others. It is beautiful to see a child wait for another and offer help or some advice!
Reading: “Nurtured by Love” by Dr Suzuki
Websites: British Suzuki
Website - https://europeansuzuki.org American
Suzuki website - https://suzukiassociation.org/
Cork Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/suzukimusicincork/