Suzuki method music lessons

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. – Shinichi Suzuki


The Suzuki method or “mother tongue” approach is a musical teaching philosophy originating from the 20th century by Japanese violinist and teacher, Shinichi Suzuki (1898 – 1998). Suzuki explored the idea that musical talent can be acquired the same way children learn their native language. As he was experiencing challenges learning the German language, he noticed how quickly children pick up on their native language, compared to the difficulty adults experience when learning a new language or dialect. He came to the conclusion that if children have the skill to acquire a new language, they also have the skill to become musically proficient.

The Suzuki Student Triangle

The Suzuki Triangle

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The Method

While most of us may be familiar with the traditional approach to learning music, which starts with learning to read sheet music and attending private lessons, the Suzuki method is chosen by many families and music teachers for its unique and effective approach. The Suzuki method involves taking the basic principles of learning a language and applying it to learning music. The unique aspects of the Suzuki method include:

Parent Involvement

At its core, the Suzuki method relies on the active participation of parents in both the classroom and at home; parents attend music lessons and serve as home teachers. The role of the teacher is to provide the lesson, teaching both the child and parent. The parent will then take this lesson home and supervise the child when practicing. Suzuki believes that having a parent act as a teacher will teach the child how to practice effectively on their own. The parent will also provide them a nurturing and positive environment to ensure their child’s full potential.

Listening and Delayed Reading

Children learn to speak prior to reading because they are immersed in an environment that constantly exposes them to that language. With the Suzuki method, listening to music is akin to learning speech. With constant exposure to music, children will develop their ear training and become more familiar with sounds, melodies, and the nuances of the instrument they are playing. Listening to music repeatedly helps children internalize the music’s structure, rhythm, and expression, which will become the basis for their own music expression and creativity.


In addition to listening, children learn their native language through the repetition of words. Suzuki used this principle in his teachings by having his students play “old” pieces long after first learning them. Just as repeated words become part of our vocabulary, the same effect occurs through song repetition. By having students repeat musical passages, students will strengthen their muscle memory, coordination, and technical proficiency on their instrument. As students revisit “old” songs, they will improve their accuracy and precision as they are no longer concerned with learning the piece but refining their control, consistency, and expression.

Group Lessons

Aside from private lessons, the inclusion of group lessons into a student’s musical education holds significant importance in the Suzuki method. Group lessons offer a great opportunity for peer motivation and encouragement and in this supportive environment, students can learn from each other, share success and challenges, and grow in their musical journey together. In addition, group lessons can improve stage performance and confidence as students practice and perform in front of their peers.

Ultimately, the Suzuki Method sets the stage for lifelong enjoyment and proficiency in music, equipping students with a solid basis to explore and excel in their musical journey. And, although this method emphasizes the importance of early-age musical education, adults can benefit from learning music through this approach.

If you’re curious to learn about the traditional method, check out this post on the differences between the Traditional Method and the Suzuki Method.

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