Suzuki piano - what is it all about?

(9 Posts)
sittingbythepoolwithenzo Tue 25-Feb-14 13:27:21

Both DSs have piano lessons with a great teacher.

DS1 (aged 10) sat his Grade 1 last year and got a Distinction. He has been taught, what I imagine to be, a fairly traditional method - lots of scales, studies, and worked his way through various books. He is a fairly methodical learner.

DS2 (aged 7) started a bit earlier than I would have liked, but loves playing and was keen. He is sitting his Prep Test this term.

I can tell DS2 learns in a different way, as he likes the sound the piano makes, and spends ages experimenting with chords. He can read the music, but forgets the names of the notes sometimes (he can find them on the piano though). He likes scales, and grasps then quickly, but is really not bothered about pieces. He is absolutely fine with the Prep test pieces, but would rather spend time playing exercises (Dozen a Day etc).

He teacher has suggested we supplement his current books with the Suzuki Book 1, with the CD. I have heard the name, but have no idea what it is or whether this is a good thing or not. She is suggesting still doing the other stuff, but really concentrating on listening to the sound the piano is making (something she never even mentions to DS1).

Sorry this is a bit long, and I do trust the teacher, but I am just trying to work out her thinking. Is Suzuki a bit of a fashion? Do other teachers use this as well, or is she thinking that DS2 needs more of a grounding?

(My gut feeling is that DS2 is far more "musical" but a bit of a day dreamer.)

Wafflenose Tue 25-Feb-14 17:52:24

My DD is using Suzuki Flute book 2 alongside her other repertoire, but that's not the same as the Suzuki 'method'. It could be that she wasnts your DS to learn the pieces by ear (which will be good for him), or it might be for more reading practice, or just for fun.

The Suzuki method in general focuses on technique, making a good sound, and learning by heart/ rote long before reading any notes. I think it's unlikely that a traditional teacher would be swapping him to a completely different method if he is already Prep Test level. His note reading/ forgetting names is fairly age appropriate in my experience, and if he is doing the exam, then he is clearly doing well.

Some people love Suzuki, and others don't. I like the pieces, but I don't like the way that the method assumes that children can't do certain things (learn/ practise independently, learn to read music, and in the case of the violin, that they can't hold the instrument or bow properly at first. Just my controversial opinion though!

frogs Tue 25-Feb-14 18:02:37

The Suzuki books are not the Suzuki method! Lots of mainstream teachers use the Suzuki books (not much experience of piano teachers, admittedly, but certainly String teachers do). They're just collections of pieces which are carefully chosen to develop particular technical skills. Lots of the pieces are pretty standard and occur in other books as well, though sometimes in different arrangements.

I really wouldn't read too much into it, she probably just thinks that there are some pieces in the Suzuki book which would work well for your ds at the stage he's at.

sittingbythepoolwithenzo Tue 25-Feb-14 18:33:41

Thanks. That makes sense - it's just the name Suzuki was ringing bells, but I haven't actually come across it before.

Weegiemum Tue 25-Feb-14 18:48:29

My lot:

Dd1 (14) just passed grade 1 but already has several (totally different system) accordion grades.

Ds (12) has passed 1-3 with distinction - it's his first instrument and I really prefer it to the bloody drumming.

Dd2 (10) is about to do grade 1 piano and grade 3 violin.

Teachers in piano and violin have both used Suzuki books here and there, but both aren't into the method as they're not sure it teaches theory and all teachers have really encouraged music reading, and as I've got my grade 6 theory and 8 clarinet I really agree!

FastLoris Tue 25-Feb-14 20:26:19

Frogs is right. The Suzuki METHOD involves not just using the Suzuki material but also teaching in a very specified way that is very different from traditional teaching methods. Most notably, children learn to play purely by ear, listening to their teacher, CDs and having parental input at home, for years before they learn anything about notation. The Suzuki method also promotes group lessons and a much greater and more prescribed role for the parent. Suzuki's philosophy was about looking at how children learn their native language, and taking that as a starting point for music learning.

I personally think the method has some problems and limitations, but also that Suzuki brought a valuable idea to the fore by focusing on training the ear first. A lot of traditional teachers (still) have no idea about playing by ear or worse, are actively opposed to it.

It sounds to me like your teacher is just interested in broadening the material and approaches that your DS is exposed to, and using some playing-by-ear material alongside the other stuff. That's a good thing and shows that the teacher has a broad sense of what's involved in being a musician and is willing to use whatever works to achieve the required ends. The Suzuki books just happen to be the material that they see working.

sittingbythepoolwithenzo Tue 25-Feb-14 20:35:44

Thanks again. It is very interesting watching the same teacher use different methods with two children. She often plays or sings to DS2, but rarely to DS1. At this point, DS1 was ploughing through books, and really focussing on the Prep Test. DS2 would be quite happy playing his Dozen a Day exercises for hours on end.smile

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 25-Feb-14 21:45:24

I think the teacher sounds really good being able to differentiate for different learning styles

Your ds's are lucky.

maggiethecat Wed 26-Feb-14 11:04:08

your teacher sounds refreshing!

your ds2 sounds like my dd2 (same age) - she loves her dozen a day.

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