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The Suzuki method was created by and named after Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. To read more about the life of Dr. Suzuki, click here, or read the book, "Nurtured by Love." The Suzuki method is now being taught all over the world to hundreds of thousands of children. It is widely recognized as a highly successful method for teaching very young children to play music.
Mother Tongue Approach
The Suzuki method is often referred to as the Mother Tongue Approach. In the Suzuki method, we try to teach music the same way we "teach" language. Just as we learn to speak our mother tongue well before we can read or write, students in the Suzuki method also learn to play music and develop a level of instrumental competence before they read music on the instrument. Just as a baby is surrounded by language, so must the Suzuki student be immersed in the music they will study. The student listens daily to a recording of the music they will study, hopefully many times a day. Knowing the music intimately frees the student to be concerned with the quality of the tone they create, and with the technical accuracy and efficiency of their playing.
Everyone understands that their child will become literate in their mother tongue, and the situation is no different for the Suzuki student. We expect them to develop full competence in music literacy. If you have heard that students in the Suzuki Method do not read music, you have heard incorrectly. Historically there have been teachers associating themselves with the Suzuki method who did not teach music reading, but they were not Suzuki teachers. Any worthwhile method should demand the student become musically literate, and the Suzuki method is clearly worthwhile in this regard!
People study music for many different reasons. People have their children study music for different reasons; they themselves did not get to do it as a child, they have heard it will make their children smarter, their parent's made them and they were going to do the same for (to?) their child… While there are no "wrong" reasons to study music, I believe there are some very good reasons.
Surely our job as parents is to help our children become the best people they can be. We want them to be kind, industrious, intelligent and caring people. I believe that when children are immersed in music, as they are in the Suzuki method, all of the above qualities are likely results. Dr. Suzuki was known to work constantly on the tone the student produced on the instrument (tone meaning the quality of sound produced). He worked endlessly searching for the warmest, most penetrating and most beautiful sounds. One of his favorite sayings was, "Beautiful tone, beautiful heart." Through the quest for beautiful tone, the student will take on the qualities of a beautiful tone. I submit that we teach children music to make them more fully human, more beautiful and more alive.
Life Long Joy
Another benefit of music study is that there is room for music in every person's life, no matter what the stage. A student who has been introduced first hand to the beauty of great classical music will always retain a love for music. By studying music, we are giving the child their birthright of musical competence and letting them discover that a day with music is far better than one without. In addition, the student who attains a level of competence will have far less trouble as an adult resuming musical study. They will be able to attain a level of competence filled with great satisfaction on many levels. When our children study music, we are doing what we can to give them lifelong joy.