Suzuki - Method, hype, both, neither?

Discuss the pros and cons of various "methods" with other teachers

Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Mon Jun 06, 2005 8:22 am

We have reviewed many piano "methods" on our Piano Methods page. In those short reviews, we try to give teachers and students a synopsis of what we think are the strengths and weaknesses of the most prevalent methods. The purpose of the reviews is neither to advocate nor discourage use of any given method, but, rather, to give people a general sense of what's in store if they use one of them.

Of all the reviews on that page, the one we have received most comment about is the "Suzuki method" review. About 15 Suzuki teachers have written over the years decrying our "bias" in the review and our lack of "knowledge" of the method. Most of these notes have also referred to me and our reviewers with various epithets better left out of this thread. I have offered each and every one of the people upset with the existing review the opportunity to write a replacement that would tell the "truth" about Suzuki as those users of it see it. To date, over eight years, not a single such teacher has produced so much as one word of the replacement review. Interestingly, every one of those teachers indicates that they use "modified" Suzuki, not the "pure" version taught at the Stevens Point, WI Suzuki Institute.

Since we try to be as fair as possible in reviews and given that the Suzuki advocates have been unwilling to produce a "fairer" (in their minds, at least) review, I would like to hear from other teachers about their experiences and knowledge using Suzuki. In particular, I'd like to hear what teachers feel are the strengths and weaknesses of Suzuki, whether the original Japanese method works with students from other cultures, and, if not, what modifications you might recommend to those who wish to use Suzuki. Although many users of Suzuki seem to have an almost "religious" attachment to it, what can we say about it that is factual and reproducible in training most students?

Edited By Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor on 1118498154
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
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Postby Lyndall » Fri Jun 10, 2005 10:28 am

I can't contribute to this thread, but I am very curious to see any responses because I've recently considered the benefits of Suzuki & would like to incorporate SOME aspects into my teaching of beginners especially. I admire the way students are encouraged to LISTEN to the sounds they produce. But I will never give up my current method books which teach note reading from page 1.
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Postby Beckywy » Fri Jun 10, 2005 8:59 pm

I don't know alot, but only from what one parent has been telling me regarding her daughter taking suzuki. Her daughter is 4 years old. She has been taking both violin and piano for a year. 15 mins is on the violin, and 15 minutes on the piano. When she's only playing the mississippi hotdog for 1 note on the violin, she's doing the exact same thing on the piano. Seems like the parents are taught to teach their children what the kids learned during the lessons. Practice doesn't seem possible without the parents, and a lot of it is listening to the CD.
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Postby Stretto » Sat Jun 11, 2005 9:45 am

I don't know much about the Suzuki method, but would be very curious to learn more. I have even thought of taking lessons myself to get an insider's view of how it works. I had the opportunity once to observe a group lesson with a teacher who had about 60 students. I was amazed that very young children were playing such difficult music and with excellent technique. When I asked her if they knew how to 'read' notes, she said they learn that later. It does make sense especially for very young children to learn the "language" of music first and then learn how to read it. Also I could see the benefits of learning strong technique first without being bogged down by reading notes at the same time. My students let good technique slide a lot because of concentrating on the written page. Although there is something to be said for learning to 'read' the notes on the page in relation to how it enhances aspects of child development, I could see where the Suzuki method would be especially beneficial for kids 2-4 and even younger where they are not really ready to 'read' but still very interested in learning music. I think it would be beneficial for any age to be able to learn, play, and enjoy music from a different 'angle' than just 'reading' notes.
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