What is the Suzuki Method?
Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, born in 1898 in Nagoya, Japan, created a beautiful method of teaching music to children during the aftermath of WWII devastation. The first music educator to attempt to teach very young children, he based his philosophy on the manner in which language is learned by babies. "Man is a son of his environment", Suzuki said. It is utterly amazing how babies throughout the world learn to speak their "Mother Tongue", yet learning languages at later stages in life is a highly complicated and difficult task. This fact proves how completely capable very young children are at learning extremely difficult things; the secret lies entirely in the way it is presented to them! Do we give them lessons once a week or once a day? Do we give tiny babies books to read? Of course not! Please think about how a baby learns its first words: "mama", "dada", its own name, etc... How many times does baby hear the words before we expect him/her to speak them? The answer, of course, is many, many, many times after several months of hearing the words EVERY SINGLE DAY! Many babies can speak these first words before they are a year old; some need more time. Every baby is a unique individual with its own learning pace. But the only way a baby learns to speak its native language is by being immersed in a language-rich environment on a daily basis. Very, very gradually babies begin to put two words together - then three, then four! The rate at which they learn to mimic the words they hear depends completely upon the individual baby's innate ability and the manner in which the words are taught by the parents.
The process is very loving; the baby is kissed and smiled at and encouraged to mimic its first words over and over again - many times a day, every single day! Amazingly, a very young child will begin to speak his/her native language FLUENTLY at a tender age of two or three. There is always individual variability with every unique child.
This miraculous process can be applied to the teaching of anything! And the same amazing results can be achieved! Dr. Suzuki asserted that the following things must be implemented in order for very young children to learn anything the Mother Tongue way:
- A PARENT must be deeply involved (the "home teacher").
- An environment must be provided that is filled with demonstration on a consistent and daily basis with MANY, MANY opportunities for the child to imitate. LISTENING must be done daily and regularly.
-The teaching process must be POSITIVE, loving and encouraging without negativity.
- Children need camaraderie and must learn WITH OTHER CHILDREN, but also with INDIVIDUAL instruction.
- Learning BY EAR should occur, rather than by reading, in the beginning stages.
- Teaching ONE SMALL STEP AT A TIME is necessary with MUCH REPETITION and many chances to succeed at each step before advancing.
- Beginning at a very young age is ideal for establishing a way of life that will continue.