This highly acclaimed method was developed by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki in Japan. Suzuki’s concept of music learning is based on mother tongue language learning – children can learn music in the same way they learn to speak, that is, by listening first. Other emphasis in the Suzuki Method are:
- Nurturing the child/student as a whole
- Parental involvement in lessons and practicing
- Learning by ear at first – sight reading music delayed
- Learning with peers (group classes)
What Does this Look Like in My Studio?
Nurturing the Child/Student as a Whole
“Character first, ability second,” as Dr. Suzuki is often quoted. In other words, the student is put first, pedagogy second. Learning to play the violin happens through nurturing the child’s spirit, building confidence, and instilling a sense of excellence at every level. These are experiences and qualities that extend far beyond ability on an instrument.
As much as possible, I request that a parent or guardian to be present for lessons and group lessons with younger students. Your presence at the lesson will help you know what your child is working on and how they should be practicing. Practicing regularly is essential and expected in this program. Younger children will need help every practice to get the instrument out and stay focused, older children may only require an ear in the other room to direct if the child is getting off course. Actively participating with your child in learning to play the violin shows the child that this endeavour is important to you, and can be a special way to spend time together.
Learning by Ear…LISTENING!!
Learning to play without music at the start of learning the violin fosters the freedom and confidence to play and hear music without always relying on the notes. We will start off by learning and playing music by ear only. There are 2 main reasons for this.
- Children learn to speak their mother tongue language exclusively through listening. They are able to pick up nuance, tone, accents without ever being directly taught. Music is also a language, best absorbed by listening.
- The violin is a very complex instrument to learn. There are SO MANY things to learn and internalize in terms of form and technique in order to play even one note beautifully. Throwing music reading into the mix at the early stages complicates matters too much and is frustrating. Music reading, an essential skill, will be delayed until some point during the first year or two, when I feel the physical skills and techniques are solid enough.
To this end….
In your Suzuki Book 1 there will be a CD included that plays all the pieces in Book 1. It is VERY IMPORTANT to be listening to this CD often. Have it playing in the background. Put it in the CD player of your car, play it before bed or when the kids are playing. When students listen to the pieces they are or will be playing, they will learn them off by heart (in the same way you know “Happy Birthday”), so they can then play in the absence of written music, as well as internalize proper pitch, rhythm and musicality. I cannot overemphasize the importance of listening to this CD consistently.
Learning to play the violin is a discipline that only develops when it is practiced. Without practice, no progress can expect to be made. I will write a practice plan every lesson for your child to follow. I expect students to be practicing at least 4 times a week for approx. 10 minutes (Book 1), or 20 min (Book 2). Practicing is far more productive when it is done a little bit every day rather than a whole lot on one day. In my experience as a parent, practice happens MUCH easier if there is a scheduled time every day. For us, in the morning before school is the best time. It helps to find a regular time when your child is not tired or hungry.
Group Lessons – Learning with Peers
The violin is an instrument that is played with other instruments as much as alone. It is important early on to learn the skill of playing with other musicians. Feeling at ease with other players, enjoying camaraderie, learning to catch up after a mistakes, feeling and playing within the group rhythm, playing harmonies and chances to perform in a low stress environment, are a few of the many things we will work on during this time. Students really enjoy group lessons. It is a time that fosters friendships, and further motivates them to continue to improve their own playing.