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Implementation of the Suzuki Approach in my Studio

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NotesActive parental participationStudio Format

To implement the Suzuki philosophy, certain factors must be operative to replicate the environments of children learning their mother tongue. Although difficult to isolate because overlap exists, these eight elements emerge: intensive listening to recordings of repertoire, initial rote learning, active parental participation in the learning process, readiness training, careful focusing of students’ attention, constant creative repetition of repertoire, inherent motivation, and a common repertoire for all students.

The parent is present to observe each lesson. During the lesson, I write a detailed assignment to be practiced at home. The parent sits daily with the student while practicing the assignment. As Suzuki himself said, “You only have to practice on the days you eat.” Great care is given to structuring the daily practice session for optimal effect.

“Review” is extremely important. Playing that which you have learned frees you to concentrate on the fine points. With repetition comes familiarity, security and confidence. “Preview” enables the student to conquer the difficult technical problems of a new piece before that piece is assigned. Hence, when the new piece arrives and the trouble areas are already mastered, students can be successful quickly. Depending upon their advancement, my students also have reading, theory and technique assignments in addition to their Suzuki pieces. From the very beginning, though, I do “readiness” preparation for these most important skills.

Two strong motivational forces are inherent in the Suzuki approach. First, because the Suzuki approach emphasizes careful, step-by-step, thorough preparation, success is almost guaranteed. When students achieve success, they are motivated. In addition, success breeds more success. Because of the carefully structured sequential plan of the repertoire, students who acquire the skills to perfect one piece are ready and willing to approach the next. Second, with all my students progressing through the same body of literature, they motivate each other. Students who hear more advanced students are inspired to accomplish what they have accomplished. Realizing that peers successfully can perform a work places that goal within an attainable range, "for if they can do it, so can I!"