The Suzuki violin method can be a polarizing topic in the music world, as there are many different opinions. While some argue that the method helps children develop a high level of playing ability, others say it doesn’t teach students the proper violin techniques.
If you’re considering the Suzuki violin method for your child, it’s best to thoroughly research the basic principals of the method to help determine if it’s a good fit for your child.
To ensure you have all the necessary information, below are the pros and cons of the Suzuki violin method from my (a teacher’s) point of view.
Suzuki violin programs are a mix of group and private violin lessons.
- Pros: Students receive frequent reinforcement of skills because they are attending at least two lessons per week. The varied lesson plans provide a well-rounded approach, covering many different learning styles. Group lessons are also a great environment for children to be encouraged and challenged by their peers.
- Cons: The lesson commitment for the Suzuki violin method is more than that of traditional private lessons, which can be too much for today’s busy families. Additionally, the Suzuki structure is pretty regimented with not much flexibility for missed lessons.
Students are encouraged to listen to music daily, especially recordings of the songs they are learning in lessons.
- Pro: Listening to music daily is a fantastic way for children to develop an ear for the violin and other instruments. The more they listen to the songs they are learning, the faster and better they will learn those songs.
- Con: The commitment to listen to music daily typically falls on the child’s parents. Not only is this a burden on busy families, but some parents will quickly grow tired of listening to same Suzuki songs day in and day out.
Recitals play an important role in the Suzuki violin method.
- Pro: Preparing for a recital gives students a goal for which they can aim. Students are often proud of their accomplishments after a recital, which is a great self-esteem builder. Suzuki recitals with group performances also provide a safe performance environment for new violinists.
- Con: Children who are very shy may have a hard time with this aspect of the Suzuki violin program. It can be awhile before a student feels comfortable enough to go on stage and showcase his or her skills.
4. Rote Learning
Beginner students learn songs by rote (or memory), with note reading introduced several years later into the program.
- Pro: Students develop excellent ears, meaning that they can hear whether or not they are playing in tune. Songs become very strongly ingrained in their minds because everything is played by memory. Students who struggle with note reading will find great freedom in being able to play music without reading notes.
- Con: Because note reading is not introduced until later in the program, it can often be a struggle for students. By the time they learn how to properly read music, their violin techniques are much more advanced. Going back to the basics can be frustrating, not to mention difficult for students who might have already developed bad habits.
5. Practice Commitment
Daily practice is expected.
- Pro: Any student who practices an instrument daily, even for 10 minutes a day, will make significant progress. After all, daily practice is one of the best ways to improve upon one’s skills.
- Con: As parents are well aware, most children will not practice daily unless they are told to. A lot of responsibility for the daily practice sessions will fall on the parents, which can quickly become a burden.
6. Parental Involvement
Parents are expected to learn the violin alongside their child, attend all lessons and classes, and direct practice sessions at home.
- Pro: Young children benefit greatly from having such strong parental involvement. This is especially clear with the parent-directed practice sessions at home. The focus and assistance that parents provide during these sessions ensures that students are reinforcing the skills they learned during their violin lessons.
- Con: The Suzuki violin program is a sizable commitment for parents. In addition to attending lessons and directing daily practice, parents must carve out significant time in their schedule to learn the instrument themselves. Not only does learning an instrument take time and patience, but it can also be difficult to do as an adult.
As you can see, there are many great aspects of the Suzuki violin method. The cons are largely circumstantial and depend on the lifestyle of each individual family.
The Suzuki method is great for some families and very difficult to adhere to for others. If you have further questions, you might want to take a lesson with teacher who has Suzuki experience, as this individual will be able to give you solid advice.