In 1933 the Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki (1898-1998) was struck by a simple fact: "All children throughout the world speak native tongues with the utmost fluency... Does that not show a startling talent? How, by what means does this come about?" Suzuki studied how children acquire language and applied it to teaching the violin to very young children with amazing results. Another central part of his teaching was the concept 'character first, ability second'. His goal was to embrace the whole child, nurturing a love of music and through that music, developing fine human beings who could also play a musical instrument very well.
"We are not teaching these children to make them professional musicians. I believe sensitivity and love towards music or art are very important things to all people whether they are politicians, scientists, businessmen or labourers. They are the things that make our lives rich."
An early start is enormously beneficial for learning music. All around the world, newborn babies produce remarkably similar sounds, regardless of the language in their environment. However by eight months, babies from different countries babble using sounds from their own language. Their brains have already begun the process of 'pruning away' sounds they do not hear around them. Early childhood experts agree that this natural sensitivity and receptiveness to sound is at it's peak from birth to around 3 years. This is why Suzuki music students start so young.
Just as a seed needs sunshine, water and good soil to sprout and grow, our classes create a rich musical environment for children, where we respectfully encourage each child's natural learning abilities, creativity and musicality. Because parents are a child's first and most influential teachers, they can make a huge difference to their child's musical education by continuing to provide this musical environment in the home. We ask parents to play a recording of the music their child is learning at home every day.
In the same way we expect that children (in their own time) will learn to speak their mother tongue well, we expect musical success from all our students. Every child can be musical with the right environment and an early start.
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