The Suzuki Philosophy
Dr. Shinichi Suzuki (1898-1998)
Dr. Suzuki was a violinist, educator, philosopher and humanitarian. Over the past half century he has had a profound influence on music education throughout the world. Suzuki based his approach on the belief that, 'Musical ability is not an inborn talent but an ability which can be developed. Any child who is properly trained in a nurturing environment can develop musical ability, just as all children develop the ability to speak their mother tongue. The potential of every child is unlimited'.
The Suzuki Method began when, encouraged by the ability of children to assimilate their mother tongue, Dr. Suzuki saw a great opportunity to enrich their lives through music. He began teaching a small boy (Koji Toyoda) in Matsumoto, working to develop a sequential repertoire that would present musical and technical points in a logical manner.
Suzuki's philosophy and the Method he developed have now reached thousands of teachers, children and families in many nations. When he died in January 1998, Dr. Suzuki was mourned around the world. His belief in the marvelous capabilities of all human beings and the importance of nurturing these capabilities with love has left a lasting legacy. 'Perhaps it is music that shall save the world' - Pablo Casals
Dr. Suzuki did not develop his method to produce professional musicians but to help fulfill their capabilities as human beings. As he said. 'Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens, noble human beings. If a child hears fine music from the day of his birth, & learns to play it himself, he develops sensitivity, discipline & endurance. He gets a beautiful heart.'
Every child learns the most complex of languages easily through; Exposure, Example, Encouragement, Repetition and Refinement.
- Before a child is born he is listening to sounds around him
- From the moment of birth he recognises his mother's voice, and spends many months listening to this complex language.
- Finally the child's first word is spoken - a milestone.
- Much praise is given by the family, which created motivation and incentive for practicing this first word over and over and over.
- Parents possess an instinctive approach to language teaching.
- Progress takes place at the child's own, natural rate.
- Practice is an enjoyable, fun part of learning.
- Learning to read comes when the child is ready.
- The child develops an incredible sense of self with all his new found knowledge.
Dr. Suzuki was around 33 years old when he had this revelation, the mother tongue approach, which was to become the basic purpose of his life. A father came to Dr. Suzuki's studio with his 4 year old son enquiring about violin lessons for his son. Dr. Suzuki went away and thought long and hard about a way to teach such a young student. 'Of course, all Japanese children speak Japanese? Children everywhere in the world are taught their mother tongue by a perfect educational method. If a child can achieve this he can learn many other complex things also.' This 4 year old student became a world famous musician - Toshiya Eto.
'What is man's ultimate direction in life? It is to look for love, truth, virtue and beauty. That goes for you, for me, for everyone.'
'Come down to children's physical limitations and up to their sense of wonder and awe' - Dr. Suzuki
Young children (aged 2-3) prefer gross motor skill activities, playing with large objects. This is a great time to explore music, singing, movement as they are receptive to explore new things and further develop their gross/fine motor skills.
- Children are more neurologically receptive to aural learning.
- Children are delighted by repetition, they always love reading the same book! In music, we are constantly repeating our past repertoire and our current pieces.
- At a young age a child's mimicking skills are highly developed.
- Ability develops from age zero
Seven Concepts of Suzuki
Every Child Can Learn
Success Breeds Success
Environment Nurtures Growth
Parental Involvement is Crucial
Children Learn from One Another
Ability Develops Early
Encouragement is Essential
Children Should Study Music
When a child studies music they embark on all sorts of different aspects of learning. Music is mathematical, it is rhythmically based on the subdivisions of time into fractions that must be done instantaneously. Music is foreign language, although we develop the ear first, once a child is reading most of the musical terms/directions in the music are written in Italian, German or French. The semantics of music is the most complete and universal language. Music is History, music usually reflects the environment and times of its creation. Music is physical education, it requires fantastic co-ordination of fingers, hands, arms, lip, cheek and facial muscles, in addition to extraordinary control of the diaphragmatic, back, stomach, and chest muscles, which respond instantly to the sound the ear hears and the mind interprets. Music is all these things, but most of all music is art. It allows a human being to take all the skills and craftsmanship developed through practice and use them to create emotion and communicate these through the form of music.