Music as Language

The Suzuki method is often referred to as the Mother Tongue Approach. In the Suzuki method we try to teach music the same way we “teach” language. Just as we learn to speak our mother tongue well before we can read or write, students in the Suzuki method also learn to play music and develop a level of instrumental competence before they read music on the instrument. Just as a baby is surrounded by language, so must the Suzuki student be immersed in the music they will study. The student listens daily to a recording of the music they will study, hopefully many times a day. Knowing the music intimately frees the student to be concerned with the quality of the tone they create, and with the technical accuracy and efficiency of their playing.

Everyone understands that their child will become literate in their mother tongue, and the situation is no different for the Suzuki student. We expect them to develop full competence in music literacy. If you have heard that students in the Suzuki Method do not read music, you have heard incorrectly. Historically there have been teachers associating themselves with the Suzuki method who did not teach music reading, but they were not Suzuki teachers. Any worthwhile method should demand the student become musically literate, and the Suzuki method is clearly worthwhile in this regard!