The Suzuki method, which has been utilized for teaching musical instruments for more than fifty years, is based on the educational philosophy that "every child can be educated." This philosophy is rooted in the concept that children learn music the same way that all children learn to speak language: by imitating what they hear around them; the method, therefore, is labeled the Mother Tongue approach. In the Suzuki program, students initially learn to play by ear through modeling and repeated listening to recordings. A note-reading class is introduced when the student has achieved a degree of proficiency and coordination on the instrument.
The strength of the Suzuki method is dependent upon the symbiotic triangle of the teacher, child, and parent. The parent attends every lesson with the child so that he or she may function as the daily home teacher, carefully monitoring the child’s practice. Parents' Classes are compulsory for all participants in the first year of the program. Children in the Suzuki program participate in four solo and group performances throughout the school year. There are 28 lesson and class weeks. First-year beginners take part in performances at the discretion of the instructor and Program Director.
We offer the Suzuki program to children age 3 and up. Traditional instruction usually starts at age 5, so the Suzuki method provides a head start in the learning process. Studies have shown, and continue to demonstrate, that early exposure to the performing arts translates into greater self-confidence, higher academic achievement and more socially adept individuals. While learning an instrument is fun in and of itself, the long range benefits are truly incalculable.
The Suzuki method differs from other teaching methods in that the parent is an active participant in the teaching process. In the required Parents’ Classes, parents learn the basics of how to play the instrument that their child is studying, thus enabling them to supervise home practice. Parents attend their child’s private lessons in order to strengthen the symbiotic relationship between the teacher, child and parent. It is also suggested that the parent record all private lessons, if possible, to further reinforce the recommendations of the teacher.
The Suzuki Curriculum
The Suzuki program comprises a variety of activities including private lessons, group classes and theory classes. Please see the course descriptions below.
• Private Lesson (30, 45 or 60 minutes weekly)
• Parents' Class: The parent working with the child at home is the one who should attend all private lessons and Parents’ Classes. In these classes, the parent learns to play the instrument in order to facilitate practicing at home. In addition to attending all individual lessons, it is recommended that parents record (either audio- or video-tape) each lesson; these recordings will serve as a guide to home practicing. (45 minutes weekly)
• Group Class: Group Classes develop a child’s self confidence by providing a regular forum for performing both solo and group pieces with and for their peers. Group Classes are scheduled for 30, 45, or 60 minutes, according to age and level and determined by the Director of the Suzuki Program. (30 minutes weekly for beginners; 45 minutes weekly for 2nd-year students; 60 minutes weekly for 3rd-year and up students)
• Music and Movement: This class is designed as a first structured music class for children 3 to 6 years old and it is an integral part of our Suzuki program. Based upon the principles of Emile Jacques-Dalcroze, this approach to music education incorporates rhythmic movement and aural training, as well as physical, vocal, and instrumental improvisation. Music notes and dynamics are introduced. Children learn while doing what they love most: walking, running, skipping, singing, and playing instruments. The class also provides an opportunity for children to interact with other children in their age group. (45 minutes weekly)
• Intro to I Can Read Music: Designed as a child’s first note-reading class, games and other fun activities along with colorful materials are used. (30 minutes weekly)
• I Can Read Music: A note-reading class for violin students who have achieved a degree of proficiency and coordination on the instrument. (45 minutes weekly)
Please note: Most students will take the sequence Music and Movement, Intro to I Can Read Music, and then I Can Read Music. Students from the age of 6 usually take I Can Read Music class.
• String Beans: A beginning string ensemble for violin, viola and cello. (Flute ensemble is separately scheduled; flute students will join String Beans for select events.) String Beans is incorporated in the schedule in the fifth year and up of Suzuki study.
• Young Children's Chorus: Introduction to group singing for children ages 4–8 Children have the opportunity to do both unison and some part-singing. Music reading not required. Young Children’s Chorus is offered as part of the Suzuki Flute/Recorder program and it is also an elective (tuition: $100) for Suzuki and other Prep Center students. (45 minutes weekly)
Please note the following:
• The Prep Center school year is 32 weeks, from September through June. Suzuki students participate in four solo and group performances throughout the year, and there are 28 lesson and class weeks. First-year beginners may take part in performances at the discretion of the instructor and Director.
• The tuition for the year-long program (including 30-minute private lesson) is $1850 + a $45 registration fee. (A 6-payment plan is available. Please contact the Prep Center Office to discuss.)
• For the first four weeks of the Suzuki program, parents come to the Prep Center without their children for the 30-minute private lesson, 30-minute Group Class, and 45-minute Parents’ Class. If you are not able to arrange childcare for those four weeks, please speak with the Prep Center Office. This is an important time for parents to learn the fundamentals of the instrument and the Suzuki method so that they may be prepared to assist home practice when their children begin lessons.
• Once a family registers, the Director of the Prep Center will reach out to the family to discuss schedule and materials.
Other Programs at the Prep Center
The Prep Center has a wide variety of programs in music, theater and dance for children of all ages, and all levels of ability, from beginning students to students who are considering a college career in the performing arts. Please call (718) 951-4111 for further information.