Music Lessons: The Suzuki Method

Suzuki MethodAlthough 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: li_lian_2000@yahoo.com
  • 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.

Suzuki Philosophy

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…

Related:

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

16 thoughts on “Music Lessons: The Suzuki Method

  1. Dear Shen Li,

    I have a four years old son. I am searching suitable music class for him.
    What is the different between the suzuki program and kindermusic or yamaha lesson? Thank you.

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  2. Hi Shen, I did find a school before and have sent the details to your FB. I did not enrol Ben as I was not sure whether he will like it as it is an investment. No trial class and have to buy the small violin which is quite costly.

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  3. Irene – How is your daughter doing in Suzuki violin? Does she enjoy it? Would love to hear your experiences, too.

    Alice – I have limited exposure to the Suzuki program, and what I know of Kindermusic and the Yamaha lessons are only what I saw for those few classes my son attended before he wanted to quit. This is what I think:

    Kindermusic – Gavin was about 18months when we tried this. The program introduces music to young children through movement and rhythm. You sing songs, dance, do physical activities to rhythm, etc. It is play with a music theme but no focus on any instrument.

    The Yamaha program was for the keyboard so the children are exposed to the keyboard. They don’t learn anything specifically, but they learn to sing, what’s high sounding, what’s low sounding. It is more like an introduction to playing the keyboard.

    The Suzuki Method actually teaches a child to play an instrument with the focus being on listening rather than reading music at first. So if you ask me, I think the Suzuki Method seems to be more instrument oriented and if you want your child to learn an instrument rather than just develop an interest and understanding of music, then I would do this method.

    Irene Ng – thank you. I got the link. Yes, a violin is a hefty investment, especially for someone like Gavin where it is difficult to tell whether he will get into it or decide flat out that he doesn’t want to do it. I would much rather stick to piano since we already have a piano at home.

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  4. Hi Shen Li,

    I send my girl to suzuki violin at yamaha USJ. Rm100 per class, it’s a group class. She enjoy very much. You can read my post on my blog 🙂 hope it helps!

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  5. Hi Lynn – thanks. I have heard about Suzuki violin. Unfortunately, it’s a bit far for us to travel which is why I haven’t considered it. I will follow your updates on your blog, though – thanks!

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  6. Hi Shen,

    Em recently changed to Suzuki method violin, me & her have to attending the class, I’m no good in music, but I’m learning at the same time with em, so that at home I can give her revision. No music note, all thru the sound, learn to listen rather than writing the music note. Which is a bit difference from her previous teacher.

    The teacher is very patient. He is one of the teacher from Gifted Child programme. His name is Teacher Dominic Damian, Carismen Dolce S/B, you can contact him for more details. His contact: 03-6203 2718.

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    1. Thanks Jo! I will have to remember this for Gareth. Or if Gavin ever changes his mind about learning music… Right now he is not very keen and when I took him to Bentley Music Academy, he was not too interested. Perhaps it is just as well since Gareth is very difficult right now and my MIL will have a hard time looking after him while I attend music class with Gavin…

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  7. Hi,

    I was looking for info on Suzuki violin in PJ and stumbled upon your post. Would you be able to share with locations of some of the schools here on PJ which offers the Suzuki violin class. I’m not a local and just moved 6 months ago so I’m unfamiliar with the music school scene here except Bentley and it doesn’t offer Suzuki. Much thanks in advance!

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    1. Hi Yusma,

      Li Lian Low (details in the post above) also teaches Suzuki Violin.

      You can also try:

      – Suzuki Violin (located in Dataran Sunway in Kota Damansara – details on their FB page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Suzuki-Violin/141511548217?sk=info)
      – Brian Tan also teaches Suzuki Violin (http://www.easia2u.com/eAsia2u/english/template/template01/rfq/browse/item.jsp?compid=1847&itemid=8007)

      You might want to investigate Bentley Music Academy further because I was told the same thing when I called – that they don’t teach Suzuki Violin. But when I arranged a trial class for my son, the teacher we had was teaching the Suzuki Method.

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  8. Hi Yusma,
    You may also find Suzuli Violin at “The Music Professionals Academy of Performing Arts”.
    Tel/Fax: 0361407596
    Email: music pro@streamyx.com

    You may check out with the school, I remembered seeing the signs of Suzuki Violin on the school’s notice board.

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  9. Hey Shen. Stumbled upon ur blog whilst looking up for a violin teacher. Was wondering if u could tell me more bout the teacher u recommended-Li Lian. How has it been so far? Isit worth your money? Does ur child enjoy the teacher’s lessons, the suzuki method. and interaction so far? Does she come to your house to teach or do you go to her house or is it in a centre? Are the classes once a week for half an hour?

    Sorry to bombard you with the many questions. but would really appreciate the extra info

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    1. Hi Wern,

      Although we went to see Li Lian to explore music lessons, we didn’t end up signing up for them because my son opted out in the end and I didn’t want to be the one pushing him to practice everyday.

      I did find out a few things however… Lessons are held at Li Lian’s house, once a week. There are also group lessons where the children will play their instruments with and in front of others. This is the nature of The Suzuki Method – group practice as well as solo practice. The Suzuki Method requires a lot of commitment from the parents as well as they must learn along side the child so they can guide the music practice.

      I have only met Li Lian once but she seems nice enough and sounds like a competent teacher. Of course, I have never had lessons with her so I cannot comment beyond that. I think the best is for you to make an appointment to meet with her. You can always decide later if you want to go ahead or not.

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