Although my earlier attempts to send Gavin to music classes were dismal failures (Kindermusik, Yamaha Music Kids), I was encouraged to try again when Gavin expressed a renewed interest to learn music after his school concert performance a couple of months back. Given Gavin’s negative response to both the Kindermusik and Yamaha Music Kids programs, I did not feel inclined to return to either of those classes. Besides, while I thought they were great programs, I felt they were more about music appreciation rather than learning music.
I heard about the Suzuki Method some time back and I tried to find a local school in Malaysia but I could not find anyone offering music classes teaching the Suzuki Method so I gave it up. After reading the benefits of sending a child for music lessons, I tried searching for a Suzuki school again recently and managed to find one person who is a certified Suzuki teacher:
Li Lian Low
- Location: Section 17, Petaling Jaya
- Phone: +6012-696 4468
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instruments: Violin, Cello, Piano
- Training: Every Child Can!, Piano Book 1, Piano Book 2, Piano Book 3, Piano Book 4
- Cost: RM180/month
About the Suzuki Method
The Suzuki Method of learning music follows the immersion concept of learning a native language. Suzuki realised that all children could learn how to speak their native language with ease and began to apply the basic principles of language acquisition to learning music. In order to learn how to speak, our babies are exposed to an environment rich with their native language. Over time, they learn to speak the words, and only after they have learned to speak the words do they learn to read the words.
The Suzuki Method incorporates private lessons and group lessons. Participating in group lessons and performances help motivate children as they learn from each other.
The Suzuki Method believes that this is how music should be learned – through listening first before reading. Most traditional music schools teach children to read music first. With the Suzuki Method, children are exposed to the music and are given opportunities for active and passive listening. Once they have had sufficient exposure, they begin to learn how to play the pieces by ear. Over time, as they learn more, they will eventually be introduced to music notation and they will be taught how to read music.
Age of Introduction
The age for learning music through the Suzuki Method is from 3-4 years. The normal age for most music programs is 6-7 years. There are several reasons for starting young but these are some of the benefits highlighted:
- younger children are more easily guided by their parents (older children usually know what they want and can be less cooperative with practice).
- introducing music as a regular part of a young child’s routine makes it seem like a normal part of his day, just like taking a bath or having a meal – music practice then becomes more like play rather than work and we all know that children excel at playing and everyone hates working.
- a 3-4 year old is better able to concentrate on learning music compared to a 6-7 year old who will be distracted by the new experience of starting school. A child who has been learning music from an early age will already be sufficiently proficient at music by the time he starts school. Like any adult, children enjoy doing things that they excel at.
The reason why the Suzuki Method resonated with me is because of Suzuki’s philosophy. In fact, Suzuki’s philosophy doesn’t really differ much from Shichida’s philosophy. He promoted the learning of music in a positive and nurturing environment with close parental involvement. Parents are shown how to encourage their children and a high level of parental commitment (especially during the early years) is required. Parents need to be present during music class and to take notes so that they are able to guide their children through the home practice sessions appropriately.
The focus of the Suzuki Method is not to produce a musical prodigy but to develop the whole child so that his full potential is reached. Suzuki’s wish was to foster the human qualities of a child using music.
“I want—if I can—to get education changed from mere instruction to education in the real sense of the word—education that inculcates, brings out, develops the human potential, based on the growing life of the child. That is why I am devoting my efforts to furthering Talent Education: what a child becomes depends entirely on how he is educated. My prayer is that all children on this globe may become fine human beings, happy people of superior ability, and I am devoting all my energies to making this come about, for I am convinced that all children are born with this potential.” – Suzuki.
That’s basically what I understood about the Suzuki Method, but you can hear all about it from a Suzuki specialist in the following video:
As terrific as the program sounds, my only concern now is whether I can fulfill the commitment required by the parent…