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Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

Born: October 17, 1898, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan

Died: January 26, 1998, Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan

The Mother Tongue Approach Method

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.

Basic Principles of the Suzuki Method:

  1. Early Beginning: It is highly encouraged that children start musical training at a very young age. The early years are crucial for developing mental processes and muscle coordination. Nevertheless, it is never too late to begin playing a musical instrument.

  2. Parental Involvement: Just as they help their child learn how to talk, parents are directly involved in the musical learning of their child. They attend lessons with the child and serve as “home teachers” during the week. 

  3. Listening: this basic concept is at the heart of the Suzuki methodology. Just like a child learns how to speak by listening to others around her, daily listening to the songs to be learned will create the loop learning concept of "learning from within", where a song listened many times will "reside" within that child.

  4. Repetition: just like repetition is essential to learn a new language, the repetition process while learning an instrument will build the muscle memory necessary to make a skill part of their repertoire of motions.

  5. Encouragement: recognizing and celebrating each small accomplished step of the music learning process is a must for the success of any learning process.

  6. Playing with Others: group lessons provide the social camaraderie so important to allow children to thrive, become independent thinkers and learn how to collaborate with others.

  7. Delayed Reading: children learn to read after their ability to talk has been established. Is is the same with learning an instrument, it is better to have basic playing technical skills established before being taught how to read music.

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