Celebrating 30 Years!
Piano Lessons -
Suzuki Method or Traditional
Suzuki Method: Listening-based, ages 4-up
Traditional Method: Reading-based, ages 7-up
Both methods include: ear training, note reading, individual
lesson plans, music theory, improvisation, natural technique,
positive motivation, and performance opportunities
The Suzuki (or Mother Tongue) Method of instrumental teaching is based on listening and hands-on learning. It was inspired by the fact that all children learn their mother tongues, or native languages, by being surrounded by them, hearing, absorbing, and imitating; and language reading occurs after spoken language is fluent. The student usually begins at a young age. The parent creates a musical environment in the home by playing recordings of beautiful music, including the Suzuki CDs, and by taking the child to observe other students' lessons, recitals, and concerts. The parent attends the lessons and helps the child practice at home in a positive, fun way. After the student can play with both hands fluently, which may be several months to two or three years, or at least age 6, music reading is begun. The parent's role in helping practice will diminish by the pre-teen to teen years. Suzuki students participate in group lessons as well. This program provides motivation for the child to practice and achieve a high playing level.
The "traditional" method is the way most students learn to play an instrument - by learning to read notes from the beginning. This approach is most effective with children who can read language, at least second grade level or age 7, up through adults. Although more attention is given to note reading, emphasis is also given to proper technique and listening skills as in the Suzuki method. Many traditional method books come with CDs, which are very useful in helping students learn. In fact, trying to play a piece of music without ever hearing it is like trying to put together a puzzle without looking at the picture on the box! The parents' role in traditional lessons is much less involved than in the Suzuki method.
I believe that anyone of any age can learn to play an instrument well. The keys to successful music learning are: excellent method, materials, instruments, and teaching; a positive home environment including listening to beautiful music often; and parents’ involvement and encouragement. These conditions can create the desire to practice consistently, effectively, and joyfully, without the negative connotations that the word “practice” can bring. Playing music should be fun!