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Breaking down some Suzuki myths

As a student who was raised in the Suzuki method and a current Suzuki teacher, I've come to notice that many people don't actually know exactly what a "Suzuki student" is all about. There are a lot of myths and even more stereotypes revolving around this method. I think that educating fellow musicians and teachers is a vitally important task.

Shinichi Suzuki's major breakthrough in child education came from watching hundreds of newborn infants. He realized that every infant eventually learns to speak the "mother tongue." Children have an incredible ability to assimilate auditory information. He also observed no parent doubts their child's ability to learn to speak. They always encourage and practice constant repetition. From these observations he drew the conclusion that given the right environment, every child can play music.

With these things in mind, we can move on to the actual method. The Suzuki method revolves around auditory learning and one point lessons. Children begin to learn note reading when they start to actually read words on a page. With very few exceptions, a three year old does not understand the value of symbols on a page. But they can learn by ear; the same way we learn how to speak before we learn how to read and write.

However, we would never learn to speak without proper encouragement. A major focus in the Suzuki method is that you never doubt a student's ability to play. As soon as you tell someone that they can't do something, they generally can't do it. But if you teach a music student the way you would teach a child to speak in that there is not a single doubt in your mind that he or she will say "mama" if you repeat it enough times, the child is guarenteed to succeed.

So that's a start. Hopefully, there will be more blogs to come that expand on this idea.


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