All Children Have Talent
Shinichi Suzuki called it Talent Education. He believed that all children have talent, and that talent is not inborn, but developed. Students are not evaluated prior to their involvement in music. Teachers believe that given the proper environment and training, children can develop skills to a high level.
In his observations of children, Suzuki marveled at how easily they mastered their native language. They constantly hear the sounds and imitate them, getting the approval from people around them. They are encouraged to repeat these words. Suzuki refers to this as mother tongue method, and applied these same ideas to violin instruction. Children listen, imitate, and repeat. Music is a part of their environment. Parents and teachers help by making music a positive experience for their children. As with speaking, children begin at an early age. However it is never too late to be educated.
A parent attends all lessons in order to understand the teaching points, and becomes the child’s home teacher. The parent will structure the home practice routine, and help make music a positive experience. By observing the teacher, parents will learn to give positive feedback and corrections, and nurture the child’s desire to learn. The parent’s involvement is critical to the success of a student.
Older children may be capable of attending lessons alone after the beginning steps are mastered.
Rote Learning/Music Reading
Children learn by imitation, and quickly memorize what they are shown. This allows them to focus on proper technique, tone, phrasing and pitch. Music reading is taught as a separate skill when the student has developed a solid foundation. Just as children learn to speak before they read, they learn to play before they read music.
The Suzuki pieces are on tapes and CDs. Daily listening serves as a model, demonstrating melody, tempo, and musical style. Listening can be informal, and can be done in the car, at playtime, etc. Dr. Suzuki says “Your child will progress in direct relation to the amount of listening he does.”
Technique is broken down into small steps, and each step is to be mastered. Repetition ensures success. The goal is to play each piece well, rather than move through the repertoire rapidly.
Pieces are constantly reviewed and refined. Each piece is a building block for the next. Repetition helps students maintain their technique.
In addition to private lessons, children should attend group lessons. Children learn and are motivated by their peers. These lessons are cooperative, not competitive.