Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Suzuki Method

I want to make good citizens. If a child hears fine music from the day of his birth and learns to play it himself, he develops sensitivity, discipline and endurance. He gets a beautiful heart.
—Shin'ichi Suzuki

Have you heard about the Suzuki method? Well, I first encountered this when my sister had a research about this in one of her Music subjects in UP. If I remember it right, she had to teach a very young kid and an adult, both with no music background, on how to play the piano. Well, she was successful I guess because only after a few weeks of teaching, both were able to single-handedly play infront of a live audience.

Here are some information on the Suzuki Method according to Wikipedia:

It was conceived in the mid-20th century by Shin'ichi Suzuki, a violinist who desired to bring some beauty to the lives of children in his country after the devastation of World War II. From his perspective as an adult skilled at violin but beginner at the German language who struggled to assimilate it, Suzuki noticed that all children pick up their native language very quickly, and even dialects which adults consider "difficult" to learn are spoken with ease by people of 5 or 6 years. He reasoned that if children have the skill to acquire their mother tongue, then they have the necessary ability to become proficient on a musical instrument. He pioneered the idea that any pre-school age child could begin to play the violin if learning steps were small enough and if the instrument was scaled down to fit their body. He modeled his method, which he called "Talent Education" (才能教育, sainō kyōiku?), after his theories of natural language acquisition.

Suzuki believed that every child, if properly taught, was capable of a high level of musical achievement. He also made it clear that the goal of such musical education was to raise generations of children with "noble hearts" (as opposed to creating famous musical prodigies).
The Suzuki method was first developed in
Japan. It spread from there to other Pacific Rim countries, and then to Europe. The method has also begun to be taught in a few places in Africa. Although it originally used the study of the violin to achieve its goals, it has also been adapted for other instruments: flute, recorder, piano, guitar, cello, viola, bass, organ, harp and voice. In addition, there are a few "Suzuki Preschools" which have adapted Suzuki's philosophy to use in the non-musical disciplines of early childhood education.

My second encounter with this method was during a field trip that we had in one of my Educ subjects. We went to the Greenhills Music Studio of the Arambulo's and saw young kids learn how to play the piano and the violin.

Hmm....interesting right? Maybe I can enroll Zoe there as soon as she's old enough to join a program.

3 shared their thoughts:

Paúl R. said...

Dear Vina,
Yes, it sound intriguing; however, at the very bottom of this popular approach there are fundamental matters left strangely unrecognized.
We cannot learn to play the instruments as naturally and easily as we learn to speak, especially if we were to consider today's standards of musical performance.
Unlike speech and its facility, both of which became highly natural to us over the course of hundreds of thousands of years, the instruments we play constitute artificial designs, and our use of them is artificial, too. Glossing over this serious difference with promotion of 'just natural' playing (as Suzuki teaching does) is a big mistake, and no amount of good will nor effort can, nor should, be used to compensate for it. (Not all good intentions bring good results.)

Vina said...

hi paul, i must agree with you that we learn to play instruments not as naturally as we learn to talk. i also am aware of the disagreements about the theory by suzuki. in my opinion, i guess it also takes sincere interest in learning to play plus that 'natural musical gift' to be able to create great music. in the case of my daughter, i'm just trying to open the idea to her and maybe the suzuki class will tap her still-to-be discovered musical gift (if indeed she has). my grandpa was a good piano player. my sister also has that natural gift. compared to me who needed to take longs hours of practice to master a piece, my sister plays the piano almost effortlessly. but if my parents didn't put us through piano school, we would never had discovered that talent of my sister's, right? and if in the end, if my daughter does not have any musical talent or interest (even if i put her in a suzuki school or the traditional method), then it's still alright with me.
thanks for your comment!

Paúl R. said...

If I may,
It seems to me that you want to see the true, natural ability on par with 'natural' instrumental playing and teaching, but that would not be the right equalization. That's because the most 'natural' playing (quite often professed in today's teaching) can seriously limit, harm, or downright prevent the development of even the most promising natural ability. We could see that with the issue of playing-related health problems - which, while present for centuries, surfaced only recently (more than half of piano-players have been affected). This is how it has been in instrumental teaching for ages, and, thus far, there's been no tendency, nor sufficient understanding, to alter this approach.
So, please, be careful with your children, and good luck.

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