Suzuki Method Technique

Although Suzuki was a violinist, the method he founded is not a "school of violin playing" (like the French or the Russian school of playing) whose students are always easily identified by the certain set of techniques they use to play the violin. However, some of the technical concepts Suzuki taught his own students, such as the development of "tonalization", were so essential to his way of teaching that they have been carried over into the entire method. Other non-instrument specific techniques are used to implement the basic elements of the philosophy in each discipline.

Tonalization is a term coined by Suzuki, and is deliberately similar to the word "vocalization" (as it is used by singers when they talk about warming up their voices). Tonalization is defined as the student's ability to produce and recognize a beautiful, ringing tone quality on their instrument. While initially developed for violin education, the tonalization technique has been applied to other instruments such as the piano. Suzuki believed that a student must learn tonalization in order to properly reproduce and perform music.

Using sound recordings is another technique common to all the musical instruments taught in the Suzuki method. Records, tapes, and now CDs are used to help students learn notes, phrasing, dynamics, rhythm, and beautiful tone quality by ear. Dr. Suzuki pointed out that great artists (such as Mozart) were surrounded with excellent performances from birth, and that the advent of recording technology made this aspect of their environment possible to achieve for large numbers of "ordinary" people whose parents were not themselves great musicians & music teachers like Mozart's father was.

"Adult" sized instruments are adapted to meet the demands of a small child's body in various ways. This lowers the age at which people are developmentally ready to begin studying an instrument. Scaled down instrument sizes are used for children studying stringed instruments. Curved head joint flutes with displaced keys which are closer together than normal flute keys & holes are also available making it possible for children as young as 3 years old to study the flute through the Suzuki method. Height adjustable chairs, benches, and footrests are used for piano, guitar, cello, and string bass.

Suzuki Institutes were established to encourage a musical community, raise the quality of teachers, and provide a place where master teachers' ideas can easily be spread to the whole community of Suzuki students, teachers, & parents. These short term music festivals began in Matsumoto, Japan, where teachers & students came to learn from Dr. Suzuki himself. In the US, they often last for a week or two and include daily master classes; repertoire (group) classes; teacher training courses; concerts; discussion sessions; seminars; and various 'enrichment' classes in different musical styles, instruments, or non-musical (usually arts, crafts, or dancing) activities.

A Common repertoire for all students of an instrument was established. This body of music allows each student to participate in group classes, helps to foster musical community and camaraderie, and provides motivation for students to learn new music while keeping the 'old' pieces they have learned in top form.