A Comparison of Suzuki Method and Traditional Music Instruction

at a Glance:

Obviously every teacher, both Suzuki and non-Suzuki has own unique style and values.

 The chart is meant to reflect common trends.

             More than fifty years ago, Shinichi Suzuki realized the implications of the fact that children the world over learn to speak their native language with ease. He began to apply the basic principles of language acquisition to the learning of music calling his method the mother-tongue approach.  His philosophy is based on the premise that every child has musical ability. Scientific research has further confirmed his belief that children are powerfully affected by their early musical experiences and training.


Children as young as three can learn the guitar with the Suzuki method.  The process is enjoyable for children and benefits them and their families in countless ways. Through a nurturing environment of teacher and parental support, young children may begin the journey of a lifetime of music-making.


Parents are vital to the Suzuki approach.  Either the mother or father attends lessons and works closely with the student at home with daily practicing.  Parents with no prior musical experience can make excellent home-teachers, and benefit by learning music along with their child.


Just as we teach children to read only after they learn to speak, music reading is postponed until the child’s aural and instrumental skills are established.  Children learn through the “mother tongue” approach of imitation and repetition.


Learning in small steps is important so the child can master the material with a total sense of success, thereby building his or her confidence and enthusiasm.


The Suzuki approach seeks to develop the whole child, to help unfold his or her natural potential to learn, and to find the joy that comes through music making.  Through the Suzuki process, children develop self-confidence and self-esteem, determination to try difficult things, self-discipline and concentration, and the sensitivity and creativity for making music.

Piedmont Suzuki Studio  Young Guitarists


2410 Elizabeth Avenue• Winston-Salem, NC • 27103

(336) 945-8666

Suzuki Method

Traditional Instruction

Begin Early (As young as 2 or 3 if parent can accept rate of progress)

Begin older, often not until middle-school years

Parent involved as Home-Teacher

Student takes full responsibility for learning

Students initially learn by ear, imitating method used in learning their native language (mother tongue)

Students begin by reading notated music

Note-reading on instrument introduced after basic technical and aural skills are developed

Note reading often simultaneous with technical development

Common repertoire with other students

Individual repertoire

Instruction aimed at developing the whole child

Instruction limited to specific discipline

Idea that all children have enormous potential for ability if environment fosters development

Idea of inborn musical talent (often)

Use of reviewing concert repertoire to refine technical & musical abilities

More use of etudes and exercises to develop skills

Group instruction and performances

Individual instruction and performances