Great question! I like to separate the Suzuki “Method” from the Suzuki “Philosophy” when I explain this to new families. You can find the information on the Suzuki Philosophy on the next page!
The Suzuki Method was first conceived by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki at the end of the Second World War. His wish was to create a better environment for the children of war-torn Japan, and chose music as the vehicle to achieve that goal.
When Dr. Suzuki was studying in Germany, he began to notice that, although he had a difficult time learning German, the children of Germany could speak the various dialects with relative ease. As he observed more, he came to the realization that all children could speak their native language easily, through listening, imitation and repetition. Dr. Suzuki concluded that children could also learn music this way, if the same love and dedication was given. For this reason, the Suzuki Method is also referred to as the “Mother Tongue Method”.
The term “Method” also applies to the series of Books that make up our repertoire of pieces. There are 10 Suzuki Cello Books, each with between 4 to 16 pieces in each. Each piece is selected to help introduce, incorporate, and internalize a particular technique to help us play cello, and are reviewed weekly to help provide a foundation for harder techniques, and pieces. In the early Books, I teach my students the pieces by ear, and all of the pieces are eventually memorized, which is part of the learning process.
Just like in martial arts, where they need to showcase the skills they've learned in order to reach a new level, I like my students to give a performance of select pieces in the Book they have just finished learning to demonstrate that they feel comfortable with the skills they have learned. We call these Book Recitals, and we treat them as a celebration!
I do two things that move away from the Method slightly: I introduce note reading very early in our lessons, and I also use music outside of the Suzuki Books to help reinforce skills, and to work on different styles and genres!