Principles of the Suzuki Approach

The Suzuki approach to learning music is based on the way babies all over the world naturally learn to speak their native language. Commonalities include the following.

Parental Involvement: Parents attend lessons with the child to prepare for their role as "home teachers" during the week. They also work with the teacher to create an enjoyable learning environment.
Early Beginning: The early years are crucial for developing mental processes and muscle coordination. Listening to music should begin at birth, and training ideally begins with a Baby & Toddler: Phase One Instrumental Instruction class. Specific instrumental instruction may then begin in the pre-school years, but it is never too late to begin.
Listening: Children learn words after hearing them spoken hundreds of times by others. Daily playing of a reference recording of the Suzuki repertoire provides the environment for learning by ear.
Repetition: Repetition is essential in learning to play an instrument, to train muscles and memory. Children do not learn a word or piece of music and then discard it. In the Suzuki approach, it is also used to maintain a performance repertoire.
Refinement: In language acquisition, old words are kept and used in new and more sophisticated ways. In the same way, new skills are added to previously learned pieces to refine tone development and musicianship.
Positive environment: As with language, the child's efforts to learn an instrument should be met with sincere praise. As a student learns at his or her own rate, building on small steps that can be mastered, specific praise for effort and accomplishment creates a nurturing learning environment. Children are also encouraged to support each other's efforts, fostering an attitude of generosity and cooperation.
Graded repertoire: Just as children do not practice exercises to learn to talk but use language for its natural purpose of communication and expression, the Suzuki repertoire is designed for technical and music skills to be developed in the context of the music.
Group experiences: In addition to individual instruction, Suzuki students participate in regular group lessons and performances, at which they learn from and are motivated by each other.
At First By Ear: Children learn to read after their ability to speak has been well established. Following this example, children learn basic technical competence on their instruments prior to and initially separately from reading music. This gives them the skills for multi-faceted learning and playing later on, as well as the ability subsequently to read music fluently and musically.

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