Pedagogy and Curriculum

Dr. Shinichi Suzuki
was born in 1898 in Nagoya, Japan. He was a visionary who transformed music education and in particular, the pedagogy of string instruments. Suzuki began developing his ideas in the aftermath of World War II Japan, and his stated goal was to help develop more “noble souls” in the hopes that such education could help avert another catastrophe of the magnitude of WWII.

At the center of the Suzuki approach is the idea that we can help children achieve ability, what Suzuki saw as the life force, in a loving environment. He maintained that all instruction should come from a place of kindness and respect—his main text is titled “Nurtured by Love”. While his philosophy is focused on quite lofty goals, his pedagogy method is concerned with the minutia of playing the violin. He was able to break down the skills of a concert artist into tiny, toddler-sized bites. His guiding principle in this process was what he called the “mother tongue” approach: the idea that if every child can learn to speak their mother tongue, a very complex skill, then every child can learn to play an instrument.

Immersion, encouragement, daily practice, and parental involvement are necessary for this mother toungue approach to work.

Immersion: the child listends repeatedly every day to the pieces they will learn (the Suzuki CD or iTunes), so that the music is as familiar to them as their mother tongue.

Encouragement: just as we encourage every effort that leads up to a child’s ability to speak, we must also encourage each effort in the process of learning an instrument. You would never respond to your child’s first attempt at pronouncing your name with an immediate correction, and likewise, positive reinforcement should always be your first response in helping your child learn an instrument.

Daily Practice: For a child to acquire a skill with the confidence that they learn to speak their language, practice must happen as often as they are exposed to speech—every day. Dr. Suzuki told children that they should “only practice on the days they eat”. We have many resources to guide you in your daily work with your children. Strongly recommended reading is "Nurtured by Love" by Dr. Suzuki and the 55 minute DVD.

Parents are encouraged to participate in child’s instrument study unlike traditional school studies, so that they can function as the “home teacher” or “practice partner”, a very important concept in the Suzuki approach. Parents attend the child’s lessons, taking notes and/or video taping, in order to be able to effectively help the child learn during the week. This is one of the times in busy schedules where parent can be involved in their child's study and is a great bond opportunity between the child and parent as they get alone time together.

In addition to the Suzuki approach, traditional methods are also used with general music knowledge with note writing and reading books, and also involving practice and excersizes on the given instrument.

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