|The aim of the Suzuki method is to make it easy for all children to learn and to enjoy making music to the best of their ability. Suzuki teachers believe that all children can derive great benefit from learning to play music, benefits that will extend into other parts of their lives, educationally and socially.
The basis of the method is that children can learn music in the same way that they learn to speak - in a very natural way. Hence this method has come to be known as the 'Mother Tongue Approach to music teaching'. It was pioneered by the Japanese musician Dr Shinichi Suzuki (1898 - 1998).
Children are taught from the very beginning how to listen to sounds and to reproduce a good tone on their instrument. They will each have recording of the music being learned and should listen to it regularly. There will also be the opportunity to listen to other children playing the same music.
Although all children initially learn to play from memory, it is vital that they eventually learn to read in order to explore new music. Suzuki children will learn to read music when they are ready' your teacher is trained to decide when this is.
Young children's natural desire to imitate the sounds heard in language learning is harnessed, and with encouragement and enthusiasm from parent and teacher they will quickly become fluent musically, too.
The Suzuki repertoire is carefully thought out so that the children scarcely notice that they are learning new techniques as skills build up day by day. Daily practice is essential. Ten minutes a day with an enthusiastic parent accomplishes far more than two hours without it. 'Only practise on the days that you eat' says Dr Suzuki.
A trained Suzuki teacher not only teaches children, but also shows the parents how to practise at home, stressing the importance of listening and encouraging the achievement of a beautiful sound. Parents who do not play an instrument should not be put off, as this is not a prerequisite.
Each instrument has its own repertoire, but all pupils learn essentially the same material. Beginning with Book 1, the children master each composition and they move forward at their own pace, acquiring new skills with each piece.
These are held frequently and pupils learn to have fun playing together and for one another. Younger pupils listen to more advanced ones and are inspired to work harder to play those pieces. There are many opportunities for solos and Group Lessons often become mini recitals. Frequent playing before and audience increases self-confidence, and children come to enjoy, rather than fear, playing before others.
Group lessons for piano students are necessarily a bit different as it is not always possible to have several pianos together. Children do play together and for each other and this is supplemented with other activities designed to build up reading skills, introduce aspects of theory and so on. As with other instruments, meeting regularly with other children and playing together builds confidence and friendships are formed.
All large Suzuki concerts climax with a 'Play Together', where children of all abilities go on stage and perform en masse from a common repertoire for their instrument, inevitably a moving experience for both parents and children.