Principles of the Suzuki Method

Dr. Suzuki always spoke of training the whole child.  His method was to use music to teach children how to bring out their full potential, and to nurture their ability to love all humankind.  Coming from a youth that was torn apart by World War II, he was intent on training children to have "noble hearts."  

Here are some of the beliefs at the foundation of the Suzuki approach:

All children possess enormous musical potential; all depends on how it is developed.  Therefore, there are no auditions, and no belief that one child is more 'talented' than another.

Environment is the motivating force behind natural learning.  The stronger the musical environment, the easier and more successful the natural learning.  The Suzuki learning environment includes:  weekly lessons and group ensemble classes; a home practice and listening program; participation in concerts and workshops; and absorption of the musical mastery of professional artists by listening at home to CDs and by attending live concerts. 

Parental involvement is central to the child's success.  Undertaking the role of Suzuki parenting is an important decision, as parents play a fundamental role in the Suzuki learning process.  The student, teacher, and parent are the solid foundation of a learning triangle.  The parent attends the lessons, creates a positive home learning environment, and organizes the daily listening and practice sessions.  The listening program makes children more enthusiastic about practice.

A child should start as young as is practical in a step-by-step process according to each child's individual needs.  The early years are the best years for sensory learning, and this period is crucial for listening and responding to the world of music.  The earlier the start, the better.  Children from the age of 3 can begin, as decided by the teacher.  (See also the Student Age page, for "How Can I Prepare My Baby or Toddler?" for children ages 0-3.)  

However, even adults benefit from the Suzuki approach.  It is never too late to start Suzuki music study.

A daily musical routine of practice and listening is the basis for ability development.  Regular review of repertoire and the refining of the basics in the child's playing leads to more expressive playing.  Dr. Suzuki explained, “As they advance, their musicality, sense of tempo, and expressiveness will develop, and they will progress faster and faster.”  Dr. Suzuki also said, "Practice only on the days you eat!"

Group learning is key to the Suzuki approach, and is achieved by frequent participation in group activities, ensembles, concerts, and workshops, in addition to private lessons.  Group learning builds social skills, reinforces concepts learned in private lessons, and develops confidence and ease in performing for others.

Never hurry; never rest.  This was one of Dr. Suzuki's favorite sayings, and reminds teachers, parents and students of the importance of patient and persistent effort in training excellent skill and developing great ability in any area of life.  The Suzuki approach to music education develops character and self-discipline while keeping alive the joy of learning.