The Suzuki Philosophy: The Mother Tongue Approach to Music Education

The Suzuki Philosophy (1)

The Suzuki approach to music education is an internationally known teaching philosophy and music curriculum developed by Japanese pedagogue and violinist,  Shinichi Suzuki. The method aims to create an environment for learning music which parallels the linguistic environment of learning a language.

One of the really great books on the subject is “More than Music: A Handbook for Teachers, Parents and Students” by Carole L. Bigler and Valery Lloyd-Watts. Whether you are a parent, a teacher or a student, this approach can provide great benefits to learning.

In a nutshell, here are the implications of the Suzuki approach:

1. There are no failures – Dr Suzuki says, “What child refuses to speak his or her native language? If a child does not learn, it does not mean lack of ability, but rather that the teaching methods are not compatible with his present development or that the child has not been properly or sufficiently stimulated.

2. Environment educates Children – Ability develops because of the environment. A child from a home where good English is spoken speaks good English. If the child comes from a family which uses poor English, he will speak poor English. A child can learn only that which his particular environment offers.  Dr. Suzuki said, “A child who never hears good music will never be able to reproduce it. Children can be taught to make good music.”

3. The rate of progress is dictated by the child – In the Suzuki philosophy, no child is compared to others of comparable age.

4. Ability breeds ability – The accumulation of abilities results in accomplishment. In music, a child begins with simple skills, and develops and accumulates them. The final result is an accomplished musician.

5. A happy environment yields high standards, great ability – According to Dr. Suzuki, work is food for the soul if the attitude towards it is positive. It is commonly mistakenly thought that great ability is gained through oppressively hard work. A positive parental approach made the learning of language pleasurable. This positive response is one of the keys to mother tongue learning and is one of the most significant educational contributions of Dr. Suzuki’s Talent Education.

Other Benefits of Mother Tongue Education:
1. Begins Learning at an Early Age
2. Develops Concentration
3. Develops the Ability to Memorize
4. Develops Co-ordination
5. Develops Sensitivity to Patterns
6. Develops Sensitivity to Beauty
7. Promotes a More Harmonious Family Life
8. Eliminates Friction and Tension Which Impede Learning
9. Promotes Self-Esteem



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