Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Suzuki Method and how is it different from traditional piano lessons?
The Suzuki Method is an approach to learning music that follows the pattern of language acquisition. Students begin by listening to outstanding musical performances of the pieces they will study. They learn to imitate the music by ear while developing the technique to play fluently and beautifully. After these basic skills are mastered, the students’ ability to read music is added to the study.
Besides introducing music reading later, Suzuki Method is different from traditional piano lessons in several ways. Students begin to study the most technical skills right from the start. The emphasis of Suzuki Piano lessons is not on “passing off” songs, but mastering skills and growing the student’s playing repertoire. All songs previously learned, continue to be played, polished and mastered while new songs are added to the list.
Also, parents have a huge role in Suzuki Piano lessons. They attend every lesson, take notes and take responsibility for the student’s listening and practice time at home. They practice side by side with their child to ensure that the assignments are being completed correctly and skills are practiced carefully.
The Suzuki Method is based on the philosophy that “Every Child Can” learn. There is no such thing as a child prodigy-- but all children can learn to play well when given excellent teachers, the best instruments and a loving and rich musical environment.
Do Suzuki Piano students ever learn to read music?
Unfortunately, there is a misperception that Suzuki Piano students do not learn to sight read. I have even heard Suzuki teachers of other instruments perpetuate that incorrect assumption. We follow the pattern of language acquisition-- imitate first, read later once the vocabulary and fluency are in place. It is true that Suzuki Piano teachers develop the ears first but note reading is a vital part of complete musical language fluency.
On the contrary, I have known former Suzuki students who never learned to read music so I know there is evidence that Suzuki piano students don't learn to read, but the Suzuki method itself is not to blame. The fault lies with the student who didn't learn or the teacher who didn't teach.
Personally, I introduce pre reading exercises from the very first lesson and expect students to be working out of a reading method book by the time they reach Suzuki Book 2.
What is expected of a Suzuki Piano student?
Suzuki students are expected to learn the songs in the books by listening to them consistently and frequently. They typically attend 3 individual lessons and 1 group lesson per month and perform in at least 4 recitals a year. They are held to a standard of excellence at all ability levels. They are expected to become good citizens as they practice respect for their teacher and parents, dedication, and sensitivity.
What is expected of a parent of a Suzuki Piano student?
Parents of Suzuki students are expected to invite their child to practice everyday at a consistent time. They are primarily responsible for making sure that their child is listening to the recordings and providing a musically rich environment. They are expected to practice with their child and ensure that they are practicing the assigned skills carefully and learning the fingering correctly. The parents should attend every lesson and take notes on assignments and skills that will be focused on during the week.
What is expected of a Suzuki Piano teacher?
The Suzuki piano teacher is expected to teach a student how to play with a beautiful tone. They work closely with the parent and student to find solutions to difficulties they may encounter. They provide a good example to the students; both as a master of the instrument and an individual with a beautiful heart. Suzuki teachers are dedicated to a lifetime of learning and growth. Their own training is never “complete.”
What is the Mother Tongue method?
This is another name for the method that Dr. Suzuki identified as the best way for children to learn music. He marveled that Japanese children learned Japanese, one of the most complicated languages on earth, by listening and imitating their parents. Music education follows the natural progression of language acquisition.
Who was Dr. Suzuki?
Dr. Shinichi Suzuki was the founder of the Talent Education and Research Institute in Matsumoto, Japan. Here is a short bio about him.
Where can I find Suzuki teachers who live close to me?
For those living in the Americas: https://suzukiassociation.org/find-a-suzuki-teacher/
For those living in Utah: https://suzukimusicutah.org/teacher-directory/
What is the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA) and Suzuki Association of Utah (SAU) and how do I benefit from being a member of these organizations?
The Suzuki Association of the Americas is an organization of Suzuki Teachers across North and South America who are committed to the teaching of children and Dr. Suzuki’s philosophy of talent development. SAA provides teacher training programs and many resources for teachers and parents.Learn more here. https://suzukiassociation.org/about/
The Suzuki Association of Utah is a chapter of SAA in Utah. They provide a community for parents, teachers and students of the Suzuki method. They provide opportunities for interaction for both motivation and talent development. Every 5 years they host Celebration of Suzuki where piano students traditionally participate in a 5 piano concert. There are various state-wide and regional activities and recitals as well. Learn more about SAU benefits here. https://suzukimusicutah.org/member-benefits/