More than forty years ago Shinichi Suzuki, a Japanese violinist and educator, discovered the unique combination of philosophy and method called the mother tongue approach. This method made it possible to teach very young children to play the violin in as natural a way as they learn to speak. By listening to repeated words, observing the speaker, absorbing the experience, and finally imitating, children become fluent in their native language. The Suzuki approach utilizes this process of listening and imitation in an environment created by daily listening to music and by close cooperation and participation of at least one parent.
The UNI Suzuki School program is based on the educational philosophy of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki which is called Talent Education and follows these principles:
- The parent is actively involved in the learning process. The mother or father attends all lessons and recitals with the child and supervises his or her practice at home. In the beginning stages of instruction, the parent learns the music along with the child in order to motivate and instruct.
- Emphasis is placed on listening to performances and recordings of music being learned and on learning through imitation. Reading is taught later when the child has mastered the basic techniques of the instrument.
- All Suzuki repertoire is memorized. The child develops good concentration and discipline. However, other repertoire that is not memorized is taught to help develop reading abilities.
- There is constant review of previously learned repertoire.
- The repertoire included in the Suzuki volumes includes familiar folk melodies and classical music of the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods. In addition, contemporary music and other selections may be learned if the student desires.
- Though Suzuki emphasizes learning technique through careful study of the repertoire, additional technical and theoretical study is incorporated according to each child's needs.
- Individuality is emphasized. Students are not pushed beyond their present abilities. The concentration, motivation, and attitude of each student is observed and each child is allowed to develop at his or her own pace.
- The Suzuki child becomes a natural performer because of the periodic group and solo recitals and the constant emphasis on accurate musical performance. The child rarely practices alone, and thus finds performing in front of others easy.
- The actual learning process for the Suzuki child involves exposure to sounds, attempts to imitate the sounds, encouragement and correction from teacher and parent, and repetition and refinement. A natural environment similar to that of the learning a language is provided by constant review of skills and techniques already learned. This may also be referred to as the Mother Tongue method.
- Talent Education stresses that, just as ALL children can learn to speak, they also can learn to perform and appreciate music.
- Suzuki emphasizes good character: "Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If a child hears fine music from the day of his birth and learns to play it himself, he develops sensitivity, discipline and endurance. He gets a beautiful heart." Learning to play and appreciate music and transferring there abilities to other aspects of life is essential to Talent Education.
Recommended Supplemental Activities:
- Attend local concerts and recitals.
- In addition to your repertoire of Suzuki music, listen to recordings of your instrument and others as well as chamber and orchestral music.
- Attend workshops, retreats, master classes, and summer institutes.
- Read Nurtured by Love and other materials about Dr. Suzuki and Talent Education. Items available from the Somer Streed Memorial Library (UNI Suzuki School resource). Click here for list.