- An early start (aged 3-4 is normal in most countries)
- The importance of listening to music
- Learning to play before learning to read
- The involvement of the parent
- A nurturing and positive learning environment
- A high standard of teaching by trained teachers
- The importance of producing a good sound in a balanced and natural way
- Core repertoire, used by Suzuki students across the world
- Social interaction with other children: Suzuki students from all over the world can communicate through the language of music (source: http://internationalsuzuki.org/method.htm)
An early start? Yes! The importance of listening to music? Yes! Learning to play before learning to read? Yes and no (more on this in a minute)! Involvement of the parent? Yes! A nurturing and positive learning environment? Yes! A high standard of teaching by trained teachers? Yes! The importance of producing a good sound in a balanced and natural way? Yes! Core repertoire, used by Suzuki students across the world? This is fine, as any teaching method is going to employ a core repertoire, so yes! Social interaction with other children? Yes, but only if they are talented. Ahhh, now I'm hitting on something that is at the belief of Shinichi Suzuki, the creator of the Suzuki Method: Everyone is equal and can learn talent. Not true, I say. If you have a gift, you are going to be able to be truly great. Not everyone can learn to play like Andre Watts, Vladimir Horowitz, or Van Cliburn. I think we all have the ability to learn, but the ability to be an artist is something you are born with, not something you can learn.
There are tons of pianists out there who can play a piece technically perfect, but they don't have the musical depth to truly move you. This is what separates the everyday pianist from a true great like Watts, Horowitz, or Cliburn. So, social interaction with other children in the Suzuki Method only works if the other children have a gift, as far as I'm concerned. Also, I believe that in order for a student to truly learn music, he or she must be learning to read and play at the same time. The whole belief that you should learn to play before learning to read comes from the observation that we learn to speak before we learn to read. I do not think you can translate this to music. In order to build a solid understanding of music, you must learn the theory and how to read from the very beginning. It might be fine if the student is too young to truly understand, but it must be introduced as soon as they have better understanding. The Suzuki Method is not always very good at doing this, which is why I believe I never became really good at sight-reading or being able to sit down and bang out a piece without hearing it first (listen and copy). Basic time signatures have meaning to me, but anything more advanced trips me up. Anything with more than a couple of sharps or flats trips me up. This is why I am trying to go back and fix things. It's sort of like I was only taught a little bit how to read growing up and can now only speak every other word or so when I read a book aloud. Get the picture?
Enough of my ramblings. I just wanted to get it off my chest that I am not completely anti-Suzuki Method. Just trying to correct what I perceive as an injustice done to my path through studying piano for fourteen years.