The Suzuki Method for learning music is based on the theory that young children can learn to play a musical instrument the same way they learn language -- by being constantly exposed to it. It is sometimes called the "Mother Tongue Approach." Originating in Japan, it is now taught world-wide. Credentialed teachers have materials for teaching several instruments, but trumpet and other brass are not included. Suzuki philosophy may be applied to other instruments.
Founder of the Method
Shiuchi Suzuki, who died at age 99 in 1998, was the founder of the teaching method that bears his name. He was given a good start by the fact that his father owned a violin factory near their home in Japan, but he did not learn to play violin until age 17. Suzuki became a violin teacher and came to believe that all children can learn music, not just the gifted. He is noted for teaching children as young as age 4. He developed his method over a number of years and became famous throughout the world.
In the Suzuki Method, children are taught to play music before they read it. Typically, it is taught to children ages 4 to 8. Both private and group lessons are given. The parents are expected to be involved, They attend classes with the children, and then teach them at home during the rest of the week. Repetition is important, and the children are supposed to listen to music every day, especially music from the Suzuki repertoire. They learn to play pieces, not exercises, from the beginning. Suzuki teachers are trained and credentialed in the method.
Theoretically, any instrument can be taught through the Suzuki Method, although it is generally associated with the violin. Official Suzuki materials are only available for violin, viola, cello, bass, piano, flute, harp, guitar, recorder and voice (treated as an instrument). This means that trumpet, along with other missing instruments such as trombone, oboe or clarinet, cannot be taught with the strict method associated with the Suzuki Associations. String instruments are often scaled down for the young participants.
The underlying philosophy of the Suzuki Method is that all children are capable of developing musical ability. They can develop at their own pace, but should be encouraged by their parents, who are responsible for a positive learning environment. Children proceed in small steps and are never criticized or discouraged. Suzuki believed that the development of character was the most important goal. Although trumpet and other instruments are not taught according to the strict Suzuki Method, some of the philosophy may be incorporated into other teaching styles.
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