The Suzuki Method of teaching music is very much like Right Brain Education in that it is more of an educational philosophy rather than a specific method of music instruction. Of course the end result is to teach music, however, the concept behind the Suzuki Method may be applied to the teaching of any other subject.
The author Shinichi Suzuki believed that any child who is capable of learning to speak their mother tongue is capable of learning anything. It is the most fundamental point of the Suzuki Method and is so amazingly simple that it is easily overlooked.
When we look at a child and lament over their “inability” to learn subject “xyz”, we naturally assume they are “not smart enough”. Yet, if they were capable of learning how to speak their own mother language and mastering the accent to a precision of a native, then they surely have the ability to learn anything else for it is not easy to learn how to speak a language as any of us who have endeavoured to learn a second language can attest to. Shinichi believed that children who struggled in school did so only because their abilities were not nurtured properly when they were younger.
In his book, Nurtured by Love, Shinichi Suzuki explained this idea with numerous examples. Ability Development from Age Zero, also written by Shinichi Suzuki, is the follow-up book that teaches parents how to embrace the Suzuki philosophy as opposed to the Suzuki instruction outlined in How to Teach Suzuki Piano. In Ability Development from Age Zero, Suzuki talks about the right way and the wrong way of developing a child’s talent. In this book, Suzuki gives some very useful and practical ideas for creating a Suzuki environment within which your child can learn a musical instrument the Suzuki way.
After reading a couple of chapters from this book, it appears to be a beneficial parenting book in more ways than one – not only is it useful for teaching the Suzuki Method, it also helps parents create a Suzuki environment at home so their children can be immersed in Suzuki philosophy and practices. Like Right Brain Education, Suzuki also talks about discipline for children who won’t listen, who misbehave, etc. because these are all part of the Suzuki philosophy. In his book, he coaches parents on how to handle tricky matters, such as music practice. Most children dislike practicing but practice is crucial if they are to excel at their instrument.
Suzuki’s belief is that parents need to create the environment where children are the drivers for their own practice rather than the parents. If the parent is the driver for music practice, the child will become resistant and resentful. His practice will not be effective because his heart is not in it, therefore the results will be mediocre at best. However, if the child is motivated to practice of his own accord, he will work hard to apply himself and the results will be good.
Even if teaching music is not your aim, I feel that this book is worth a read for the number of practical parenting ideas it offers. The parenting style is very much like what Shichida preaches – positive parenting, discipline with love, and showing respect to your child. And if teaching music is your aim, you really should read this book.