Lincoln Suzuki Talent Education Association      

About the Suzuki Method 

  The Suzuki Approach is based on the fact that every child learns their native language fluently. They not only learn it, they learn it without any formal schooling or training, and they are fluent by the time they enter kindergarten. Dr. Suzuki discovered that children can also learn to play a musical instrument in this way. He calls it the "Mother-Tongue Approach."

If children are provided with the proper environment, they are capable of doing anything. Every child can learn. Talent is not inborn; it is developed, but not every child has a chance to develop it to it’s greatest potential. The proper environment is needed to develop this talent to it’s fullest potential. This environment must include love, reinforcement, encouragement, and listening.

Children listen to their native language from before birth. Once they are physically able to utter a word, it’s usually something they’ve heard a lot and have been encouraged to say many times. So, we have Mama and Dada. Once they have said their first word, the infant receives much praise and encouragement to motivate it to say it again and again.

The baby begins saying new words. Never have you ever heard an adult say to a baby, "Okay, you’ve shown us that you can say Mama, now quit saying that and try something new like Dada!" That would be ridiculous. Instead, the infant receives praise each and every time it says "Mama," and it then adds to its vocabulary.

The same thing holds true for playing a musical instrument. Students listen to a recording of the pieces they will be playing, becoming familiar with the music, just as a baby becomes familiar with language. As with language, children learn much faster and it’s much easier, if they know what it is supposed to sound like. The child starts out by learning one thing at a time, slowly building a vocabulary of music, or a repertoire. Children continue practicing and playing their previous pieces as they add new pieces. Each piece retained helps make learning the next piece easier. Suzuki says, "Ability breeds ability."

One major concern of parents entering the Suzuki Method for the first time is, "Will my child learn to read music?" The answer is yes, of course, but not right away. Children learn to speak before they learn to read and write their language. The same holds for music. The children learn to play the instrument with some mastery, and then they learn to read and write music.

Parents are required to read 'Nurtured by Love', written by Dr. Suzuki, himself and 'To Learn With Love' by William and Constance Starr. I think you will find these books very helpful in understanding the Suzuki Philosophy. Also, talking with parents of students already taking lessons is a good way to understand how to go about becoming a "Suzuki Parent."

The parent plays a very important role in the development of musical talent in the child. The parent is responsible for coming to every lesson and paying close attention to the material covered. The parent is then responsible for practicing with the child at home. The parent is the assistant teacher, the teacher at home, making sure that everything that was assigned gets practiced at home. The parent also supervises the listening the child does. The parent supervises what is listened to, and how much listening the child actually does. The last, and most important responsibility of the parent is monitoring the kind of environment the child develops in. The child must be encouraged and praised, not criticized and made to feel incapable. Family members should not frown at the student’s practicing. If people in the house dislike the student’s practicing, the student will also dislike practicing. The child must be loved and nurtured in a musically appreciative environment.

The teacher is a caring, but objective onlooker and information giver. She teaches what she knows, helps achieve the technical aspects of playing the instrument, and supervises the roles and responsibilities of both the parent and the child. The teacher is there to give advice, too. If you, as a parent ever need help motivating your child, or yourself, or you need advice on how to make practice sessions less frustrating, the teacher will gladly try to help.

The student also has responsibilities. The child is an active learner, not passive. The child does not simply stand there, absorb, and be manipulated by the teacher or parent. The child thinks and learns. He/she will learn to recognize what is wrong and right, without having to be told. The child will probably correct something the parent or teacher does wrong. The child will become his or her own teacher to an extent. The child deserves understanding, respect, and caring concern. The things he/she does are really quite amazing. Both the teacher and the parent have to understand how difficult being a child can be.

The main point of learning to play a musical instrument is not to become a professional musician someday. It is to become a better, more complete person, by expanding horizons, and HAVING FUN!!!

One final message:

The Suzuki Method aims at educating the WHOLE CHILD, meaning that we want happy, ambitious, disciplined children who strive to make the most out of life!

Written by Lisa J. Myers