A Japanese violinist named Shinichi Suzuki developed a way of teaching young children to play instruments. Suzuki applied the basic principles used in a child's acquisition of language to the child's learning music. He called the method the "mother tongue approach," comparing learning music to learning language through listening. Now known as the Suzuki method, it requires dedication from the young music student, the teacher and the student's parents.
One element of the Suzuki method that makes it stand out is that the student begins learning flute at a very early age. Many students learning flute or other instruments using the Suzuki method begin before they learn to read. The student must have the disposition to commit to the method. Learning by rote -- repeating the task over and over -- is a basic of the Suzuki method. A young flute student must be willing to play the same music over and over again. The student must also be willing to listen to music over and over to learn it.
Parents of a Suzuki flute student play a role in the student's development. Unlike other music lessons where the child works only with a teacher, in the Suzuki method, a parent plays a part. Young students will have a CD of flute music to listen to regularly. The method asks parents to listen to the CD with the student and encourage regular listening, like in the car, in the bathroom while brushing teeth, or in the background while cooking. Parents act as re-enforcement to the learning by rote element of the Suzuki flute method.
Not all music teachers practice the Suzuki method. When a young person decides to play flute, his or her parents need to find a teacher who specializes in the Suzuki method. A Suzuki flute teacher will be accredited through the Suzuki Association. Suzuki teachers are required to have well-honed skills in playing the flute, thorough knowledge of music and an aptitude for teaching. Suzuki teachers believe that children can be taught music as they learn language, not as something to learn after they learn to read.
Flute students learning through the Suzuki method will meet with a teacher for regular lessons. They listen to a CD with the flute music they are learning. They practice at home as much as possible both privately and with parents listening and supporting them. They also play together with groups of students studying flute in the Suzuki method. Pieces in the Suzuki method present certain technical lessons in the flute that the student learns to solve as they continue playing.
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