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The Suzuki Method: A set of books or an approach to teaching?

A little anecdote I've heard about Shinici Suzuki was that for a long time he adamantly refused to put together a set of repertoire to complement his method.  He felt it would make everything too rigid, too unable to adapt.  He eventually caved in to the demand but it's very arguable that he was correct.

It's ironic then that the very thing its creator opposed the most is the thing that ended up stereotyping the method.  When most people think "Suzuki Method" they think about this:

or, if you're vintage like me:

Teachers will teach from these books and claim to be "Suzuki" teachers.  But the books alone are not what make the method.  The Suzuki Method is an approach to teaching, pure and simple.  If there had to be one or the other, a teacher would be more "Suzuki" if he/she used his own set of music but followed the principles of the approach vs. someone who just used the book and never studied the method.

This is very, very important to realize when shopping around for a music teacher.  Do not look at the stack of music books they assign a student.  The books don't make a teacher.  Watch the quality of teaching.  Even though it wouldn't be the most exciting path to take, a good teacher could take a student all the way from beginner to advanced using only scales.  The teacher makes the method books work, not the other way around.


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