Hillary T. Dumond

Violinist, Violist, Instructor

The Suzuki Method

"Music exists for the purpose of growing an admirable heart"

-Shinichi Suzuki

The Suzuki approach aims to develop the whole child by unlocking each child's natural learning potential.  Dr. Suzuki's goal was not simply to develop professional musicians, but to nurture loving human beings and to help develop each child's character through the study of music.  Suzuki students thrive in an total environment of total support from their peers, parents and teachers.  They develop confidence and self-esteem, self-discipline and concentration, as well as a lasting enjoyment of music and the sensitivity and skill for making music.

In the 1930's Suzuki developed a revolutionary teaching method based on the way children learn their native language very well and very easily.  This "Mother Tongue Method" evolved into what is now the Suzuki Method.  The fundamental concepts are as follows.

1.  Environment and Listening- From Age Zero

 From the moment of birth babies are surrounded by language as a natural part of their environment.  We begin to speak to babies from age zero despite the fact that we do not expect them to reply.  If children are exposed to music at a young age, could it not become a natural part of their life?  For this reason, most Suzuki students begin between the ages of three and five, but older students are always welcome.

2.  Learning in a Positive Environment

Babies' first efforts at speaking are always greeted with excitement and encouragement.  No parent ever replies to their baby's first words, "No!  You aren't saying that correctly!  Do it again!"  Children learn material better when they are having fun and the same environment is necessary for a child to learn music.

3.  Repetition and Accumulation

As children learn to speak they repeat the same words over and over until it becomes worked into their greater vocabulary.  Repetition is key to the learning and retaining knowledge.  Sounds, words and phrases are constantly being built upon and refined and that is why Suzuki students continue to play, polish and refine all the songs in their repertoire alongside the learning of new material.  This constant repetition may be a reason why Suzuki students tend to be excited and comfortable to perform. 

4.  Learning With Parents

As the parents are the primary educators they are responsible for creating a nurturing musical home environment.  Suzuki often spoke of a learning triangle between the teacher, parent and the student.  The parent participates by attending every lesson, guiding daily practice, facilitates listening of the Suzuki CD and other fine classical music, and creates other enriching musical experiences such as attending concerts together.

5.  Learning From Other Children

Children learn best and are motivated to learn when they are surrounded by other students.  Children love to do what other children do and look forward to learning songs they have heard and seen performed by other students.  Group lessons and shared lessons provide the opportunity to learn many musical and social skills and are vital to creating an positive environment of cooperation and support.  This cooperative environment helps develop compassionate, enthusiastic and motivated children who are able to carry these traits into their school and life.  

6.  Small Steps and Learning By Speaking a Shared Language

 The method presents the techniques and material in small and purposeful steps so that the student can master the material with a sense of achievement.  Each piece becomes a building block for a specific musical technique and each student progresses at his or her own pace thereby building the confidence and enthusiasm for learning.

7.  Learning to Speak Before Learning to Read

By postponing music reading until the child's aural and instrumental skills are well established, the main focus can be on developing a solid foundation of technique and on the sound of the instrument- a beautiful tone, accurate intonation and musical phrasings. 

8. Every Child Can!

The Suzuki method stresses that every child can learn if taught correctly.  He knew that if the child is encouraged to be a kind, respectful, hard-working person that they would be able to equipped with the skills to overcome any struggles in learning music.