The Japanese violinist and educator, Shin’ichi Suzuki devised his increasingly popular method in the 1940s. It was his belief that most children develop intellectually at tremendous speed between the ages of 2-5 therefore he recommended starting lessons before the age of five. Children start by watching others before they begin playing themselves which accustoms them to playing in public right from the very beginning. They are encouraged to listen to recordings of works before learning the pieces and this helps them to develop a sophisticated ear for pitch and tone. After a period of playing by ear (as opposed to reading music) students are then introduced to proper note learning and music reading. Suzuki also desired a positive aura in order to successfully cultivate character and individual personality in each pupil.
All Suzuki students follow the same pattern of musical material. Each instrument has its own repertoire which has been designed to take a child from simple to very complicated pieces. The violin was originally the principle instrument involved in this method but once proved effective, many others were added including: piano, voice, recorder, guitar, ‘cello, viola, bass, organ and harp.
In addition to individual music lessons, children also learn in larger groups so that they are able to really benefit from working together developing a feel for ensemble playing. All Suzuki pupils are routinely invited to perform in public so concerts take place regularly. Parents are also expected to take an active role and are asked to attend all lessons. This is a complete ‘lifestyle’ method and will benefit only the most dedicated of children (and parents).
If you want to find out more about the Suzuki Method there is plenty of information available on the internet. Here is a good place to start; www.britishsuzuki.org.uk
The Suzuki Method Grand Concert in Tokyo, March 2002 Photo: CORBIS
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