Rhonda Hotop, dance musician
and violin/viola teacher in
Poynton, Cheshire

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The Suzuki method is a method of music education developed by Japanese violinist, educator, philosopher, and humanitarian Dr. Shinichi Suzuki (1898-1998). While in Germany in the 1920s, he noticed all children learn to speak their native language, and he reasoned that people could easily learn music in the same way. Suzuki based his approach on the belief that "Musical ability is not an inborn talent but an ability which can be developed. Any child who is properly trained can develop musical ability, just as all children develop the ability to speak their mother tongue. The potential of every child is unlimited." This is why the Suzuki method is sometimes referred to as the Mother-Tongue Approach or Talent Education. Suzuki's idea of the student learning by ear first, with reading following on, is being taught in many countries world-wide for at least nine instruments. We learn to speak by hearing words over and over first in a safe environment, and through praise, repetition (review), and adding new words to existing vocabulary without forgetting words already learned. Each new word is greeted with great joy and delight so the child is spurred to speak well and learn even more words. Learning music/violin can be approached in the same way with great success.

Key features of the method include:

Parent Involvement The parent attends the child's lessons and practices with the child daily at home.  Through the help of the teacher, the parent learns to be the child's "home teacher".

Early Beginning We begin formal training at young ages when language learning is also at its height, though it's never too late to begin!

Listening Just as children learn to speak surrounded by language, regular exposure to music will facilitate aural development and learning music. Listening to Suzuki recordings as well as other music is the foundation of learning.

Encouragement  Sincere praise and encouragement make learning fun and enjoyable and create a supportive environment in which the child wants to learn.

Graded Repertoire The Suzuki repertoire for each instrument is a carefully chosen sequence of pieces which are building blocks for musical and technical development. This standard repertoire is motivating since young students want to play music they hear more advanced students play.

Delayed reading. As children are taught to read words only after they have learned to speak, Suzuki students learn the basics of violin playing prior to beginning reading. Focusing on hearing and playing instead of reading notation enables the student to play with good posture and tone, accurate intonation, and musical phrasing from the beginning. Reading skills are gradually introduced at appropriate age and skill levels.

Whole Person Approach We consider foremost the well-being of the whole person.

Key benefits of learning Suzuki violin (or viola) are:

You or your child(ren) can:
  • Learn to play the violin.
  • Learn to concentrate and focus.
  • Develop self-esteem and confidence.
  • Learn to be comfortable in front of an audience.
  • Learn self-discipline.
  • Learn there is a stepwise process toward mastery.
  • Learn to read music.
  • Develop determination to try difficult things.
  • Learn to work with others in one on one and group settings.
  • Sharpen auditory and possibly visual memorization skills.
  • Learn to deal with mistakes effectively.
  • Find the joy that comes through making music.
  • Learn in a supportive environment.
  • Be more ambidextrous.

For further information see: