by Columbus Music Schools on 01/26/15
When it comes to their child’s music education, many parents have questions about the choice of instructional approaches. At Columbus Music Schools, we’re often asked, “What is the best teaching method for beginning music students, traditional or Suzuki?” The answer depends on many variables, including the age of the child and the preferences, interests and abilities of both the student and the parent. In this article, we’ll give you a brief overview of both methods, and attempt to dispel some of the myths that have come to be associated with the differences between them.
The Suzuki method was developed in Japan by Dr. Sinichi Suzuki in the 1940s and began to gain popularity in the United States during the 1960s. Best known as a way to teach violin to young students, its methods have since been adapted to many other instruments. The philosophy behind the Suzuki method is that music can be learned by immersion and listening, much as we learn to speak our native language. For this reason the Suzuki method is often called the “mother-tongue approach.”
With the Suzuki method, students begin by learning songs by ear and delay learning to read musical notation until later in their education. This allows children who are too young to read to begin learning a musical instrument at an early age. Perhaps for this reason, it has come to be associated with “child prodigies,” one of the myths mentioned earlier. While very young students can, indeed, become musically accomplished at an early age, that is neither the goal nor the outcome for most Suzuki students. Instead, the Suzuki method allows students (of all ages) to focus on mastering basic playing skills without the additional burden of learning to read music simultaneously.
Another myth is that Suzuki students don’t learn to read music. Note reading is simply addressed later in the child’s education, much as reading is only taught after a child has learned to speak.
Before the popularity of the Suzuki method, the term “traditional” music education wasn’t really used. In fact, there really is no one “traditional” approach, but many variations and styles, which have been developed and honed over centuries. A common thread among what we call traditional music lessons is that students learn to read music at the same time as they learn to play. This can be an important factor if a goal is to participate in a school band, orchestra or musical group.
The fact is that whether studying violin, piano or other instruments, an outstanding musical education can be obtained by either Suzuki or traditional methods. With faculty that teach both approaches, the choice truly lies with the student and the parent. Regardless of the instructional method chosen, our goal at Columbus Music Schools is to create successful, happy students and help instill a lifelong love of music.
Our Student Services Coordinator, Megan Yankee, can discuss the best music lesson options for you and your family in greater detail. Megan can be reached at megan@ColumbusMusicSchools.com or at 614-500-4403. We look forward to answering your questions and welcoming you to one of our studios soon!