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Suzuki Method: Definition and Repertoire

Suzuki Method: Definition and Repertoire

27 July, 2016

The Suzuki method, (sometimes called Talent Education, the mother-tongue method, or the Suzuki movement) is a method of teaching, or educational philosophy which strives to create “high ability” and beautiful character in its students through a nurturing environment.

It is most often used in learning to play music.

The term “Suzuki method” is also sometimes used to refer exclusively to the sheet music books and/or audio recordings which have been published as part of its music education method.

It was invented in the mid-20th century by Dr. Shin’ichi Suzuki, a violinist who desired to bring some beauty to the lives of children in his country after the devastation of World War II. Dr. Suzuki noticed that all children pick up their native language very quickly, and even dialects which adults deem “difficult” to learn are spoken with ease by people of 5 or 6 years. He reasoned that if a person has the skill to acquire their mother tongue, then they have the essential ability to become proficient on a musical instrument. He pioneered the idea that any pre-school age child could begin to play the violin if learning steps were small enough and if the instrument was scaled down to fit their body.

He modeled his method, which he called “Talent Education”, after the process of natural language procurement. Dr. Suzuki believed that every child, if properly taught, was capable of a high level of musical achievement. He also made it clear that the goal of such musical education was to raise generations of children with “noble hearts” (as opposed to creating famous musical prodigies).

The Suzuki method was first developed in Japan. It spread from there to other Pacific Rim countries, and then to Europe. The method has also begun to be taught in a few places in Africa. Although it originally used the study of the violin to achieve its goals, it has also been adapted for other instruments: flute, recorder, piano, guitar, cello, viola, bass, organ, harp and voice. In addition, there are a few “Suzuki Preschools” which have adapted Dr. Suzuki’s philosophy to use in the non-musical disciplines of early childhood education.


The fundamental Suzuki literature is published on audio recordings and in sheet music books for each instrument, and Suzuki teachers supplements the repertoire common to each instrument as needed. Many traditional (non-Suzuki trained) music teachers also use the Suzuki sheet music books, often to supplement their curriculum, and they adapt the music to their own philosophies of teaching. Suzuki deliberately left out the large amount of technical instructions & exercises found in many beginners’ music books of his day.

Compiled and edited by Dr. Suzuki. In ten volumes, beginning with Dr. Suzuki’s Variations on “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and ending with a Mozart concerto. The first 3 books are mostly graded arrangements of music not originally written for solo violin, although book 1 contains some original compositions by Dr. Suzuki for violin & piano. Books 4-10 continue the graded selection by integrating ‘standard’ or ‘traditional’ student violin solos.

Compiled & edited by Doris Preucil. In seven volumes, the first 3 arranged (or transposed) almost directly from the first 3 violin volumes, and the rest differing significantly as they explore into standard viola literature. Volume eight is set to be released soon.

Ten volumes, with several early pieces arranged from the early violin volumes.

Seven volumes

Three volumes

compiled & edited by Toshio Takahashi. In fourteen volumes, beginning with Mary Had a Little Lamb and ending in the Flute Concerto by Otaka. Also included are Concerti by Mozart, Cimarosa, Ibert and Quantz. Students also study music by Bach, Handel, Blavet, Fauré and other major composers.

Four(?) volumes

Seven volumes

Two volumes. Repertoire for volumes Three and Four are selected, though the music is not published in a single book for each volume.

Recently developed in Finland (?), the vocal repertoire of the Suzuki method is not yet widespread in other countries, although a Book 1 class is scheduled to be taught in a US teacher training course in the summer of 2006.

Three volumes

Supplementary materials are also published under the Suzuki name, including piano accompaniment parts, guitar accompaniment parts, duets, trios, and string quartet arrangements of Suzuki repertoire, as well as note-reading books and a few etudes.