The Suzuki Method aka Talent Education or the Mother Tongue Method is an approach to music education based on a philosophy developed by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, of Japan, in the early 20th century. He observed that children learn from the environment around them, and have an incredible ability to acquire complex skills such as language and music. Dr. Suzuki pioneered a method of teaching instruments which encourages the development of a nurturing and supportive environment which includes not only the teacher and student, but also the parents and other children of various ages through regular private lessons, group classes and concerts. This environment should be full of music, with music to listen to in the background, live performances by both children and professionals, and opportunities to play music at an age appropriate level. Dr. Suzuki advocated introducing children into a music-making community so that they will learn a love of music and be supported in their musical journey.
The seven fundamental concepts of the Suzuki philosophy are:
- Every Child Can Learn
- Ability Develops Early
- Success Breeds Success
- Environment Nurtures Growth
- Children Learn from Each Other
- Parental Involvement is Critical
- Encouragement is Essential
For more information on the Suzuki Method please see: Suzuki Association of the Americas
Shinichi Suzuki (1898-1998) was born in Nagoya, Japan. His father was a luthier of Japanese instruments who became enthralled with the violin. His admiration of the violin was so great that he started the first violin factory in Asia. Although there were violins all around him as a child, Shinichi did not recognize the beauty of the violin until he heard a recording of Ave Maria played by Misha Elman. Shinichi taught himself to play at 17 years of age, and in his early twenties, continued his studies under the tutelage of the famous Karl Klinger in Germany. In Berlin, he met his future wife Waltraud Prange, and a few years later they moved back to Japan together. Once back in Japan Shinichi started a quartet with his brothers and performed throughout Japan. At this time he also took up various teaching posts in Japan.
One day a surprisingly obvious thought came to mind and he exclaimed, All Japanese children, speak Japanese! With this simple idea Shinichi Suzuki revolutionized music education around the world by following how children naturally learn language. He developed a system called the Mother Tongue Method or Talent Education which proposed that ability is not innate or genetic, rather it is taught through a child’s early environment. Musicians are musical due to their exposure to music early in life and subsequent training, not because they are somehow uniquely gifted, while someone else is not. The key to this method is musical immersion of the child and the family. The parents are key to a child’s success and they must encourage and support the child in their learning.
Over the next few decades, the Suzuki Method spread around the world. Starting in the 1960s, Suzuki and his students toured North America and other parts of the world. Music teachers were astounded with the high performance quality of young students and sought to study how to teach in this approach. The Suzuki Method is now an international educational phenomenon with hundreds of thousands of children all speaking the same musical language. While Suzuki’s goal was to help children develop good character, rather than to train professional musicians, many professional musicians of a high caliber have studied in this style.
For his vision and efforts, Shinichi Suzuki was granted five honorary degrees and many awards. Dr. Suzuki died at the age of 99 in Japan. His spirit lives on in the music taught and performed throughout the world.
More biographies of Suzuki:
International Suzuki Association: http://internationalsuzuki.org/shinichisuzuki.htm
Talent Education Research Institute http://www.suzukimethod.or.jp/english/E_mthd20.html
Talent Education is a grass roots music education movement inspired by the teachings of Shinichi Suzuki (1898-1998). It is overseen globally by the International Suzuki Association (ISA; internationalsuzuki.org) which monitors the five large continental associations for Asia (excluding Japan), Europe (including Africa), the Americas, Pan-Pacific, and the Talent Education Research Institute in Matsumoto, Japan.
Under each of these associations are smaller country and local associations run by parents, teachers, and volunteers. In Asia, there are recognized country associations in Korea, Taiwan, Indonesian, the Philippines, and Malaysia.
Unlike some educational movements there are no franchises and each school is its own entity. There are no fees or royalties to be paid to a larger organization in order to exist. There is, however, a copyright on the name Suzuki as pertains to music education for publishing purposes. Schools often take on different internal structures, but each school should hire certified Suzuki teachers who teach the basics of private/semi-private lessons and group lessons in the Suzuki spirit. Teachers and families may pay an optional membership fee to their regional organization to gain member privileges (such as journals, newsletters, access to listings and resources etc.) and to be part of a larger Suzuki community.
Teacher certification and life-long learning is a part of every Suzuki teachers career. Each large regional association has a training and certification process which are then recognized internationally. Full Suzuki training takes years of dedication.
HKSMI is committed to hiring highly qualified teachers and mentoring those young teachers interested in pursuing a career in Suzuki pedagogy. Please read more about teacher training in Asia here: http://asiasuzukimethod.org/suzukiteachers.html#Teacher
We will occasionally offer teacher training certification programs in Hong Kong. If you are interested in pursuing Suzuki teacher training please email firstname.lastname@example.org