The Suzuki Method – An effective way to study an instrument?

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).

(Extract from So You Want To Play The Piano? published by Alfred Music). You can purchase my book, So You Want To Play The Piano?, which is packed with practice tips and useful information, here.

 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;

 The Suzuki Method Grand Concert in Tokyo, March 2002

The Suzuki Method Grand Concert in Tokyo, March 2002 Photo: CORBIS

My publications:For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my piano course, Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, the course features a large collection of progressive, graded piano repertoire from approximately Grade 1 to advanced diploma level, with copious practice tips for every piece. A convenient and beneficial course for students of any age, with or without a teacher, and it can also be used alongside piano examination syllabuses too.

You can find out more about my other piano publications and compositions here.

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