suzuki method

Every Child Can Learn!

More than fifty years ago, Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki developed a music teaching approach based on the fact that children the world over learn their native language with ease, through listening and repetition, surrounded by an encouraging environment. Features of this “mother tongue” or Suzuki method include:

  • Parent involvement — Parents attend lessons with the child so they can serve as home teachers during the week. The teacher and parent work to create an enjoyable learning environment.
  • Early beginnings — The early years are crucial for developing mental processes and muscle coordination. Listening to music should begin at birth, formal training on an instrument may begin at age three or four, but it is never to late to begin. At the Mankato Suzuki School, our students range in age from three months old in Musikgarten infant class to a viola student in his 70's!
  • Listening — Children learn words after hearing them spoken hundreds of times by others. Listening to music every day is important, especially listening to pieces in the Suzuki repertoire. Children will develop the ability to play songs by ear, like singing, only with their fingers! Note reading is integrated into the lesson after basic position and good tone are established and the child is ready to read.
  • Repetition — Constant repetition is essential in learning to play an instrument. Children learn a word or a piece of music, adding it to their vocabulary or repertoire, gradually using it in new and more sophisticated ways.
  • Encouragement — The child’s effort to learn an instrument should be met with sincere praise and encouragement. Each child learns at his/her own rate, building on small steps so that each one can be mastered.
  • Learning with other children — In addition to private lessons, children participate in group lessons. They are motivated by each other’s performances. Note reading skills are reinforced with games and playing from duet books.

In 1978 a group of local parents created the Mankato Suzuki School of Music to promote the teaching philosophy of Shinichi Suzuki. It was incorporated as a non-profit and is run by a board of parents, teachers and community members.

The Mankato Suzuki School sponsors community group activities such as playing the Star Spangled Banner at baseball games, fiddle tunes at History Fest, Irish tunes for St. Patrick’s Day, and music before Mankato Symphony children’s concerts at the YMCA.

One mom wrote after her sons, age 9 and 12, played at a wedding, “They got lots of compliments— no one thought kids could play like that! I said they are able to do this because you get them out playing in public and they feel comfortable doing it as a result.”