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The Suzuki Method

Shinichi Suzuki.jpg

Many parents are unfamiliar with the work of the beloved Shinichi Suzuki and how he connected the "mother-tongue" approach of language-learning to music instruction.  The following information, from the Suzuki Association of the Americas offers an excellent background for parents considering the Suzuki Method for their children.  Betsy Kobayashi, who studied with Dr. Suzuki himself, is happy to answer additional questions you may have.


Every Child Can Learn

More than fifty years ago, Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki realized the implications of the fact that children the world over learn to speak their native language with ease. He began to apply the basic principles of language acquisition to the learning of music, and called his method the mother-tongue approach. The ideas of parent responsibility, loving encouragement, constant repetition, etc., are some of the special features of the Suzuki approach.

Parent Involvement

As when a child learns to talk, parents are involved in the musical learning of their child. They attend lessons with the child and serve as “home teachers” during the week. One parent often learns to play before the child, so that s/he understands what the child is expected to do. Parents work with the teacher to create an enjoyable learning environment.


Learning with Other Children

In addition to private lessons, children participate in regular group lessons and performance at which they learn from and are motivated by each other.

Early Beginning

The early years are crucial for developing mental processes and muscle coordination. Listening to music should begin at birth; formal training may begin at age three or four, but it is never too late to begin.



Children learn words after hearing them spoken hundreds of times by others. Listening to music every day is important, especially listening to pieces in the Suzuki repertoire so the child knows them immediately.


Constant repetition is essential in learning to play an instrument. Children do not learn a word or piece of music and then discard it. They add it to their vocabulary or repertoire, gradually using it in new and more sophisticated ways.



As with language, the child’s effort to learn an instrument should be met with sincere praise and encouragement. Each child learns at his/her own rate, building on small steps so that each one can be mastered. Children are also encouraged to support each other’s efforts, fostering an attitude of generosity and cooperation.

Graded Repertoire

Children do not practice exercises to learn to talk, but use language for its natural purpose of communication and self-expression. Pieces in the Suzuki repertoire are designed to present technical problems to be learned in the context of the music rather than through dry technical exercises.


Delayed Reading

Children learn to read after their ability to talk has been well established. in the same way, children should develop basic technical competence on their instruments before being taught to read music.

Introductory Course

The SAA has an introductory course designed for prospective Suzuki parents and teachers.

If you are interested in the Suzuki Method, the 6 hour Every Child Can! class is the perfect opportunity to become educated in its principles.

Are Suzuki Kids Prodigies?

Are Suzuki students musical geniuses? Are they ‘gifted’ children who have a special talent for music? Are their parents professional musicians?

Fortunately, Suzuki students are normal children whose parents may have little or no musical experience. Their parents have simply chosen to introduce them to music through the Suzuki approach, a unique philosophy of music education developed by Shinichi Suzuki.


The Suzuki Legacy

Shinichi Suzuki was a violinist, educator, philosopher and humanitarian. Born in 1898, he studied violin in Japan for some years before going to Germany in the 1920s for further study. After the end of World War II, Dr. Suzuki devoted his life to the development of the method he calls Talent Education.

Suzuki based his approach on the belief that “Musical ability is not an inborn talent but an ability that

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.”

Dr. Suzuki’s goal was not simply to develop professional musicians, but to nurture loving human beings and help develop each child’s character through the study of music.

Parent Perspective

Parents whose children are involved in Suzuki program throughout the country are enthusiastic about the benefits for their children and their whole families.


"In Pineland Capital Strings, he enjoys mentoring his fellow musicians and experiencing all sorts of performance opportunities he would not have otherwise."

Suzuki Parent

"I traveled for 7 years, all over the world, fiddling through Africa, Australia, the Americas and elsewhere. Thanks to my Suzuki skills and being able to play by ear, I found that I could play most anything that came my way. I was able to connect with people and cultures through my music in a deep and meaningful way."  Maisie Newell, Teacher


Perhaps it is music that will save the world. —Pablo Casals


“This is not just music education. The long-term effects on the family are positive and far-reaching,” says Pam Brasch, Executive Director of the SAA. “It teaches a child cooperation, self-esteem…so many important qualities that children are not getting otherwise.”


Children Agree!

Children also have positive comments about their participation in Suzuki programs.


"Honestly, I cannot believe the amazing opportunities I have gained from PSS–not just the violin itself, but the amazing connections with people I have made along the way." Lucy Olsen, 2023 Graduate

"It’s a very nice accepting community of people who all share the same passion: to create and play beautiful music together. It has also made me grow so much as a violin player."

Ameliah Olsen, 2023 Graduate



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