What is the difference between Suzuki piano lessons and traditional piano lessons? Is the Suzuki piano method better than traditional methodology?
Shinichi Suzuki was a Japanese violinist who realized that music can be taught to a child at a very young age without the load of learning to read music. He likened the idea to the fact that children can learn more than one language with ease if constantly exposed to them. Suzuki began to apply this language acquisition principle and called it the mother-tongue approach.
The basic concept was reinforced by ensuring parent participation, an encouraging environment and constant repetition of the movement or music being studied. These are some of the most notable features of the Suzuki method in piano.
Though the Suzuki method was just an off-shoot of the violin method, the modifications and applications done by Dr. Suzuki and Haruko Kataoka extended the method into the study of flute, recorder, viola, guitar, harp, organ and voice.
Suzuki method piano lessons are geared towards children. The child always comes first. The length of the lesson, its pacing and the materials used are based on the child's ability. The rudiments of music are not taught. The student is taught how to play the instrument through imitation and repetitions.
This is similar to the principle that a child learns to speak first before learning how to read. A Suzuki piano teacher can opt to introduce note-reading when she feels the child is ready, which is usually at Level 2. The lessons are based on individual pacing and can take 10 minutes to an hour.
Traditional methods of teaching piano start with the basic rudiments of music-time signatures and notes. The child is taught to play based on written notes. The major disadvantage of this method is that a child has to be able to read. Skills and dexterity come second because the lessons progress as long as the child can keep up with the note-reading.
There is probably a Suzuki piano school in or near your area. If not, there is sure to be a list of qualified Suzuki piano teachers in your area too. If you are in the United States check out the Suzuki Association of the Americas or the Suzuki Piano Teachers Central.
Interview a potential teacher and ask as much as you can about the advantages and disadvantages of Suzuki piano lessons. However, do not forget to ask your child if she wants to learn how to play the piano. Next, remember that once your child starts lessons you have also committed to learning the Suzuki way.
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