The Suzuki method was established by Dr. Shinnichi Suzuki (1898-1998) in the mid 20th century. This method is based on the mother-tongue approach. The mother-tongue approach is the idea that children learn their native language by hearing others speaking their native dialect. Music is learned the same way using the Suzuki method as children learn pieces by listening to music daily. There are three components of the Suzuki triangle which includes the parent, child and teacher. The parent and teacher work together to help a student develop technique and ability. The parent and teacher also serve as the child’s “cheerleader” and celebrate small steps that the child achieves.
With the Suzuki method, children can begin violin lessons as young as three as one of the main features of this method is delayed note reading. Many famous violinists such as Sarah Chang, William Preucil and others began studying the violin using the Suzuki method. Many of the great violinists of our time also began at an early age.
The parent serves as the home teacher when practicing at home with the child. Although some parents may feel uncomfortable in this role, they are able to correct their child’s technique (ie bow hold) as the teacher models what a good bow hold looks like in the lesson. It is advisable to have the same parent that practices with their child at home present at the lessons. In addition, it is the parent’s job to play daily recordings of the music the child is currently studying. I advise my student’s parents to play the entire book every day so their children will know what subsequent pieces sound like. The benefits of daily listening include increased sense of pitch sensitivity (recognizing when a note is too low or high), rhythm and dynamics (when to play loud and soft) as well as other musical nuances.
As the student advances through the Suzuki repertoire, they will require a longer lesson. A general rule of thumb is a 30 minute lesson for books one and two and 45 minute lessons for book three. Longer lessons will give the student the opportunity to work on double stops (playing two strings at once) and different bowing techniques (spiccato, sautille and ricochet which involve getting the bow off the string) as well as other advanced material. For books four and above, an hour lesson is needed.