Have you ever tried to learn a new language? It can be extremely difficult, especially as we age. But interestingly, we are all able to speak at least one language - the language of our native tongue - with relative ease.
It's said that music is the language of the soul, the universal language of mankind, and the language of love. Whichever you prefer, it remains that music is, indeed, a language. Dr. Shinichi Suzuki (1898-1998) marveled at the way children learn to speak their mother tongue at a very young age.
His observations led him to develop a method of teaching music that mirrors language learning and in which students' abilities are nurtured with kindness and love. Compared to traditional methods of music education, Dr. Suzuki's thoughts were quite radical for his time.
Today, a Suzuki music education is characterized by the following fundamental tenets:
- Every child's talent can be developed through learning (rather than by the perception that talent is something one either does or does not possess).
- An ideal music education begins at birth; the early formative years are benefited by music to help develop mental processes and muscle coordination.
- Listening to music. More listening to music. And still more listening to music.
- Learning is best supported in a positive environment.
- As with any new skill, practice makes perfect: repetition embeds learning into long-term memory.
- A common, set repertoire guides students through great classical works to introduce developmentally appropriate musical elements and technique.
- Learning with other children through group classes, recitals, and other performances is motivating and instructive.
Dr. Suzuki believed that playing an instrument is a means to many other goals in life - musical or not, for what is learned through music will benefit children in whatever paths they may choose. His greatest desire was to enable all children to have high values, fine sensibilities, and beautiful hearts in the certainty that the nurturing of children's hearts will gradually change the world. What a noble vision of which to be a part!
To learn more about the Suzuki Method, click here for a brief overview.