As a parent or a new learner you might have seen references to “Suzuki Piano”. This naturally leads many individuals to wonder what “Suzuki Piano” is. Indeed, here at MusicTeacher.com we are frequently asked by often confused, sometimes inquisitive students what “Suzuki Piano” or the “Suzuki Method” is. I, therefore, thought I should write this article to help explain what the Suzuki Method is and why it might be of interest for younger learners learning the piano, or other instruments.
Firstly, let’s explore the Suzuki Method – this was developed by a Japanese violinist, Shinichi Suzuki, during the mid-20th centre. Suzuki, who had travelled to German to continue learning to play the piano, noticed how children of all cultures developed linguistically during their first 5 years of life.
Broadly, children of any ethnic group – regardless of how “difficult” the spoken language was perceived to be – were able to understand and speak by the age of 5. This highlighted to Suzuki the role of environmental factors in children’s educations, suggesting that even when a baby was in the womb they were absorbing their mother’s language through the muffled sounds that would make it to the baby’s ears.
He, therefore, proposed that if a child had the skills needed to speak, even the most complex of languages, at a basic level by the age of 5, then there was no reason why they couldn’t have a basic understanding of music by the same age. After all, music is seen by many as an “international language” – one that is audible, written and read like many languages.
He pioneered the idea that if the learning steps were small enough even young children could learn musical instruments, such as the violin or piano. This also helped to propagate an international understand that any child, regardless of economic or social background, could learn to play a musical instrument with the right tuition and teaching environment. This helped to steer music teacher’s focuses away from creating a single “musical prodigy”, to instead help many students learn music as a hobby or amateur level – something that became more accessible and accepted in during Suzuki’s lifetime.
Secondly, let’s explore how this can be applied to the piano and therefore unpack the true meaning of “Suzuki Piano”. By applying Suzuki’s theory to learning the piano we can theories that with the right learning materials, exposure to the “language” of music, encouragement to engage and practise this music, young students, even a pre-school age can learn to play the piano to a reasonable standard.
The piano repertoire is composed of seven volumes. The first book begins with Variations on “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and continues with many folk songs and contemporary songs. As a student progress through the volumes music from romantic, classical and baroque composers, as well as an array of other genres, are used to enable the student to gain a holistic approach to piano music. Teachers of the Suzuki Method tend to closely follow these books, many of them with the same pieces as were included in the originals.
This tried and tested method for learning the play the piano might be ideal for your child, to find a local piano teacher who is able to provide piano lessons using the Suzuki Method please search our Music Teacher Database.