Suzuki Philosophy for Parents
The Suzuki approach to the learning of an instrument was established in Japan over 60 years ago by Dr. Suzuki. He describes his program as the “Mother Tongue” method of teaching; as a child learns to speak, so they learn to play an instrument through listening and imitation. Dr. Suzuki feels that the ability of each child to master their native tongue, the language they hear from birth, is an indication that in each child there are other innate but latent abilities, which can be nourished and developed, just as in language. This approach relies strongly on the cooperative relationship of teacher, parent and student, in a pleasant, yet disciplined enterprise. It is not just a violin, viola, cello, guitar, double bass, flute or piano method. It requires careful, patient, persistent study and practice on the instrument. It is a form of total human education, character building and appreciation of beauty. In teaching by the mother-tongue method, Dr. Suzuki recognizes that children of all ages learn to play, and that the younger the child begins, the more complete and natural his education will be. As with language, the learning of music can begin, through listening, at birth. As there is a natural desire in the child to imitate what they see and hear, through listening and watching their parent, who is taught to play the first simple melodies , the child learns.
In the interest of fostering a feeling of cooperation rather than competition, the children are encouraged in the Suzuki program to help each other.
The parents’ role involves:
- Playing the recordings at home on a regular basis.
- Learning the fundamentals of playing and care of the instrument.
- Reading Nurtured by Love and other recommendations.
- Attending workshops, recitals and meetings.
- Helping to create not only a “musical environment” for the child but also a total environment of affection, support, encouragement and understanding.
One of the basic ideas of the Suzuki philosophy of teaching is that the parent must be involved in the learning process. The parent need not be a trained musician in order to be a good “home teacher”. With the teacher’s guidance, the parent can help with bowing, fingering and note reading. Always the greatest possible amount of love and patience is required of the teacher and parent. Dr. Suzuki’s vision was the parent, teacher and student in a triangle relationship with each one being equally important. In working cooperatively within this teaching triangle, it is important that the parent not introduce any new notes or concepts until it has been demonstrated and assigned by the teacher.
Reviewing is a vital part of the Suzuki philosophy. Each piece has its own technical point built into it, and these techniques all appear in more advanced pieces along with new techniques. When the student keeps the old pieces in good shape, then they will not have trouble with those techniques when they appear later, and so will be able to put their full effort into mastering the new points. Of course, the opposite is also true: If they have not been reviewing carefully, the student will have a double-hard time with a new piece where they must wrestle with an out-of-shape old point as well as learning the new one.