The Suzuki Method is a musical teaching method based on the philosophy that children should learn to play music the same way they learn to speak their native language. The basic principles are as follows:
- Listen to music, especially recordings and performances of “high-quality” works. “Passive” listening and watching on a consistent basis is believed to be critical in development.
- Start at an early age (3-5 years in most cases).
- Emphasize proper posture, form and movement.
- Focus on playing by ear (as opposed to reading music) at the early stages.
- Heavy involvement by the parents, to create a nurturing environment.
- Frequent (daily) practice, characterized by repetition and positive reinforcement.
Credit: Amazon.comThis method was originally developed for the violin, but has evolved to include many other instruments, including the piano. For each instrument there is a common repertoire of learning materials. The Suzkui Method for Piano consists of seven books/volumes and accompanying CDs. Book one starts with Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, and contains other children songs and folk songs. Each book gets successively harder and contains music by composers such as: Beethoven, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Handel.
Suzuki method teachers can be found in most areas. The Suzuki Association of the Americas is the main organization for teachers, parents and students in the U.S. There are also many state and local groups. Contacting these groups and organizations is the best way to find a qualified teacher. At least one 30-120 minute class per week is usually recommended, with daily practice at home. Keep in mind that the parent will need to attend each class so that he or she can effectively help the child practice at home. Rates can range from $40-$100 per hour for private lessons.
- Excellent for young children, starting at the ages of 3-6 (and sometimes at age 2, depending on the maturity level of the child).
- Compared to other methods, this one is more enjoyable for the young student because of the nurturing, intuitive approach.
- The child’s “ear” for music is developed, paving the way for his/her ability to learn by rote.
- Children tend to develop and learn quickly with this method.
- It requires a lot of time and dedication by the parent, as well as the child. Parents are expected to attend and pay attention at each lesson. They may not be required to learn to play piano, but they need to be able to supervise and guide their child at home during daily practice.
- Some critics say the ability to read music is sacrificed in favor of learning by ear. This is largely dependent on the teacher.