The Suzuki Program
“First for the love of the child, Next, for the love of teaching the child, Next, for the love of the music taught to the child, But always, the child comes first.”
Education begins at birth
Suzuki’s great insight into the learning process occurred when he realized that children were immersed in their native languages from birth. Although no special effort is made, all children learn to speak and understand spoken language by the time they are two or three years old. He reasoned that exceptional ability in music would also be demonstrated if they were surrounded by musical sounds from birth. This is called the Mother Tongue approach.
Nurturing the individual with love: Building self-esteem
For many years, most educational systems have use a judgmental approach to students, with harsh, non-constructive criticism. Dr. Suzuki’s believed that children learn best in a supportive and non-judgmental environment. This notion has proven to be an invaluable part of early childhood education, not just in music.
Music is considered to be a life-long involvement
From reading to math to emotional awareness, music is an integral part of long term development of human potential. The earlier it is introduced to a person, the greater their likelihood of success. Parental support and involvement at lessons and at home Suzuki realized that if children were to start lessons at three or four years of age, a lot of parental involvement would be required. Parents are considered to be teachers at home six days a week. The teacher provides guidance and inspiration one day per week.
Encouragement through positive reinforcement
Rather than focusing on mistakes and negative reinforcement, Suzuki believed that encouraging students through praise and recognition of achievement is the best motivator for success.
Frequent and continued listening to recordings of the music
Like learning to speak a language, Suzuki felt that immersing the student in the music, focusing on how it should sound, was an important step in acquiring true musicianship. Students are encouraged to listen to recordings of their pieces and etudes in order to understand them better.
Inspiration from peers
Playing music alone can sometimes feel isolating. Students can get inspired and encouraged by seeing not only their experienced teachers playing, but students their own age playing skilfully and beautifully. For beginners especially, this is enormously motivating, helping a student feel that yes, they too can play beautiful music. The inspiration and encouragement of seeing not only their teachers but also the students,closer to their age performing their music tasks skillfully is enormously motivating for beginners.
Notes by Ida Neufeld