Suzuki Instruction at Hartt Community Division
“The potential of every child is unlimited.” —Dr. Shinichi Suzuki
The Suzuki method is a way of teaching music to young children, based on the way they acquire language. It’s occasionally called the Mother Tongue method.
Young children are wired to process sound. From birth to age three, a child learns an incredibly complicated language, including all the rules and local nuance. How? By hearing the language spoken constantly around them--plus parental encouragement. This is what Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, a violinist, realized when he began to develop his method in Japan in the 1940s.
In the Suzuki method, the steps leading to playing an instrument are broken down into small increments, like a child’s first vocalizations. Games and activities are used in the lessons to provide a fun, nurturing environment. And there is a strong element of parental involvement.
Our long term goals are to help the student play well, self-analyze and correct, and eventually become musically literate and appreciate the beauty of the instrument and its repertoire. Families join the Suzuki Program to:
- Have fun making music
- Foster self-esteem
- Develop focus and concentration
- Foster self-discipline
- Teach commitment and responsibility
- Gain an appreciation and respect for the body and its proper use
- Increase mutual respect and understanding between parent and child by learning avenues of healthy communication
- Enrich their aesthetic sense
How is Suzuki different from other methods?
There are several elements of the Suzuki method that distinguish it from standard instruction methods. Teachers who use a standard method typically introduce music reading earlier, do not have group class, and might not require parents to be present at all lessons. Also, at Hartt, standard music lessons are available for all instruments and voice and there are no prerequisites for placement.
Hartt Suzuki lessons are available only for piano, guitar, violin, viola, cello and bass.
Below is a summary of the main differences.
At Hartt, Suzuki lessons for guitar, violin, viola, cello and bass can begin between the ages of four and six. Suzuki piano lessons may begin between the ages of five and seven. In the Suzuki method, the early years are crucial for developing mental processes and muscle coordination.
However, it is never too late to begin learning music! We encourage older children and adults to begin lessons through a standard method.
Suzuki involves a commitment of time and effort for parents!
The student and parent both attend lessons every week. In the private lesson, student, parent, and teacher work together to help the child acquire the skills needed for the instrument. There is also a regular group class where the student plays along with other children to learn to play with other musicians. At both lessons the parent observes to make sure the home lessons support what’s learned in class. During home lessons, the parent helps the child review and practice.
Parents also provide the vital element of encouragement in Suzuki. When a young child first says “ma-ma,” our reaction is one of pleasure. We never say, “Is that all you can say?” This basic truth is why family support is so important. Encouragement gladdens a child and keeps the student aiming high and working hard.
Listening to recordings every day creates a nurturing musical environment for a child. It is particularly important to include Suzuki repertoire in daily listening; the child then knows the pieces by ear when it comes time to learn them on the instrument.
Children do not learn a word and then discard it. They add it to their vocabulary with constant use, gradually using it in new and more sophisticated ways. The same is true of learning to play an instrument.
Learning with Other Children
Through group instruction, students learn to play with other musicians and get motivated by their peers. They’re encouraged to support each other’s efforts, developing generosity and community.
Children learn to read after their ability to talk has been well established. In the same way, Suzuki students develop basic technical competence on their instruments before being taught to read music.
Which method is right for my family?
There are several things to consider when choosing a Suzuki program or a standard method for a child’s music lessons. The following tips can help you make an informed decision:
- Review the comparison chart of Suzuki and standard methods.
- Complete the Observation Requirement. Attending a lesson with your child is an excellent way to see the Suzuki method and philosophy in action.
- Talk with us! Our staff is happy to answer questions and discuss what will work best for your family.
The Hartt Suzuki Program is one of the largest and most reputable Suzuki schools in the country.
Under the direction of Suzuki Department Chair Teri Einfeldt, we offer instruction in violin, viola, cello, guitar, and piano for children as young as four. As in standard methods of instrumental instruction, students are given weekly private lessons with one of our faculty members. Suzuki string students also attend weekly group classes; Suzuki piano students attend monthly group classes. Children have the chance to perform in monthly recitals, group concerts and community presentations.
The Suzuki Program requires the active participation of a parent, including mandatory attendance at all lessons and group classes and a willingness to serve as the child's at-home teacher.
In addition to weekly lessons and group classes, we offer Suzuki orchestras and our annual summer Hartt Suzuki Institute, which attracts students from across the country.
Being a part of the Hartt Suzuki program is a long-term commitment. In this fast-changing world, we stay constant. We plan to be there, in twelve years, for your child’s senior recitals. This year alone, we graduated six seniors, all of whom started with us eleven years ago! (Our alumni have attended such schools as UConn, Dartmouth, Smith, Princeton, Columbia, Boston College, and NYU.) We keep in touch with our graduates; some of us are teaching the children of our first students!
For more information, please visit our page, “How to join the Hartt Suzuki Program.” If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at (860) 768-4451 or firstname.lastname@example.org.