Dr. Suzuki formulated his method from the simple observation that all healthy, hearing children learn to speak their native language at a very early age; and they learn with perfect accuracy the dialect, pronunciation and inflection used in their own environment. Suzuki observed the ease with which children learn to speak. They hear thousands of repetitions of one word and add on new words, one at a time through hearing and repetition, unencumbered by harsh criticism or fear of failure. If young children could learn something as complex as language, then why could they not learn other skills as well? And why not learn them as simply and naturally as learning to speak?
Thousands of children world-wide are developing considerable abilities in such complex areas as music, languages and mathematics, starting as early as age three. In North America, where the Suzuki Method is best known as an approach to music education, many have become familiar with the sight of young musicians, often school-age or pre-school age children, playing with an astonishing level of technique and musicianship. The Suzuki method is now used to teach bass, cello, flute, guitar, harp, organ, piano, recorder, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in Schools, trumpet, viola, violin and voice.
“Musical ability is not an inborn talent but an ability which can be developed. Any child who is properly trained can develop musical ability, just as all children develop the ability to speak their mother tongue. The potential of every child is unlimited.”
Dr. Suzuki’s fundamental belief is that all children possess natural ability (Suzuki uses the word talent) that grows according to the degree to which it is nurtured (education). In Talent Education, ability is fostered by parents and teachers working together with children. Parents create a home environment conducive to learning, structured listening and practice activities. In a sense, parents are the real teachers. The professional teacher acts as a mentor to both parents and children, guiding them in learning activities and helping them to overcome obstacles.
It is never too early to begin music education using the Suzuki Method. Training may begin as early as age zero by means of exposing children to selected recordings of good music at home until the children, even as infants, begin to recognize them.
Formal training with a musical instrument may begin at age three when children learn the basics of position and posture. A step-by-step progression is followed until they can play simple songs, then major works.
Although former Suzuki students are performing on concert stages and in major orchestras world-wide, the production of professional musicians is not the primary goal of Talent Education. Rather, Talent Education seeks to develop the hearts and minds of children with results beyond music itself including increased self-discipline, higher sensitivity, improved academic skills and a sense of confidence and self-esteem.
The Talent Education movement was started shortly after World War II by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, master educator and humanitarian, as a means of helping children in his war-torn Japan. Talent Education has since spread throughout Asia, Australia, the Americas and Europe. In 2004, Talent Education celebrated its fortieth anniversary in North America.