The Mother Tongue Approach

Dr. Suzuki observed that all children have the remarkable ability to speak and understand their native language at a very young age. He observed that not only do children have constant exposure to their native language, but also they are powerfully motivated to learn through interaction with their parents. He reasoned that if children were surrounded by music in the same way that they are surrounded by speech, they would acquire the ability for music as easily. With these ideas in mind, he developed the "mother tongue approach" of talent education.

Parent involvement is a keystone

Children start sooner and progress much faster with the parent as home teacher. There are rewards for the parent: stronger bonds with the child, shared joy of accomplishment, and a sense of having made an irreplaceable contribution to the child's development.

Play first, then read

Just as one learns to speak before one learns to read, the students learn to play from memory before they learn to read music notation. This allows the students to enjoy playing earlier, and to concentrate on elementary but essential skills that can be learned quite well without reading.

Listening is fundamental

The child must develop listening skills in order to be able to make self corrections while learning the other skills needed to play the violin. The Suzuki child's ear is trained for musical sounds through daily listening to the recordings just as it is trained for the nuances of language pronunciation and accent.

How your child learns

By a step-by-step mastery approach, each piece the student learns demands only a few new skills, yet reinforces those previously learned. The sequence of skills taught is based on a well thought-out progression that is both logical and pedagogically sound.

The private lesson

Although you may first encounter Suzuki students in a group situation, the private weekly lesson is at the heart of the method. Within the basic pedagogical framework provided by the method, the teachers tailor each lesson to the unique needs of the student. Special problems and abilities receive special attention. This might mean, for example, practice drills to address specific technical problems, or daily telephone chats to help students through a difficult period.

Home practice and parent-teaching

As with any approach, daily practice is necessary for progress. The speed of learning is certainly related to the duration and quality of practice time, but the Suzuki method emphasizes parent involvement in daily practice and listening. The parent can help the child focus on the lesson, make corrections to posture, position, fingering, and so on, and otherwise make the practice time a learning experience rather than solitary repetition ("Go to your room and practice!").