a couple of years ago

The Basic Suzuki Principles, Part 1

​In this blog post, I'm going to share with you 3 of the basic Suzuki Principles. These principles are: 

  • Praise and Encouragement
  • Daily Practice
  • Daily Listening

Of course, each item on this list merits an entire blog post (or series of posts!) on their own right. However, the idea behind this post is to get you up-to-speed on the Suzuki Philosophy as quick as possible

By the end of this post, you'll have a basic understanding of the importance of each of these principles and how to apply them to music lessons with your child.

Praise and Encouragement

​Praise and Encouragement ​is an essential part of developing your child's motivation and desire to play.​ ​Think back to your enthusiasm and generous praise for every mumbled word your child attempted while​ learning to speaking their first words. With so much positive feedback, ​you child thrived. Recreating this encouraging environment​ is a key part of your child's success. 

​To do this, praise your child whenever they accomplish even the​ small goalsDo this both at home and in the lessons. During lessons, keep an eye out for the teacher's "cues for praise". For example, you can applaud when your child​ does a bow. This serves to reinforce the teacher's praise with something much more powerful; your own praise. ​

​Praise and encouragement is ​very powerful in motivating young children. ​ ​It also helps them stay on-task in the lesson and develops their internal desire for the instrument. Furthermore, when your child sees music as a place they can reliably turn for love and support, they will flourish both in lessons and in life. ​


​Talent Development is a compounding process; each skill developed makes the next skill easier to learn (values approximate).

Daily ​Practice is essential to your child's development. ​Consider the body-builder who goes to the gym 1-day-a-week and is disappointed by his results. Contrast this to the every-day​ body-builder. Incredible results are only achieved with the compounding effects of daily​ effort. 

​First of all, you need to know that a complete, well-balanced practice session consist of listening, review, preview, and ​skill development. Additionally, developing the ability to break your child's struggles ​into small, solvable problems​. That's just the basics; we'll dive into details in other blog posts.

​There are many types and styles of practice. ​​​As a parent, it is essential that you learn some of the basic styles of practice so that you can guide your child towards success during your practice sessions together.

There are many benefits to developing and using multiple practice styles. ​Not only will your child will progress much faster, but it will also help avoid​ BPS (Boring Practice Syndrome). Keeping practice interesting and progressing to new songs quickly will keep your child engaged and help them develop a sense of pride in their instrument. 


A common practice "strategy" is to play through a song until a mistake is made, then go back to the beginning and play through again, hoping and praying that it will go better this time. 

Avoid this At All Costs!

​If problems persist, even after 2-3 "warm-up" play-throughs of a song or skill, focus on the problem area​ rather than the entire song or seciton. Create a "mini-challenge" for your child and have them repeat it until it ​is secured. Then, try playing through the song/section again.

Daily Listening

An amazing photograph of the first Suzuki Student listening to his songs, even in his old age. 

Listening to Suzuki recordings helps your child develop an aural "image" of what they will be playing. As an illustration, imagine asking your child to draw a picture of something they've never seen (pun intended). ​The results would be inaccurate, to say the least. 

Daily listening will help your child understand the song and know what sounds they are looking to get out of the instrument. ​

The Simple Version: Play the Suzuki album (specifically, the album for the book you're playing through​) as background music ​during any activity.

The Super-Charged Version: (credit: ​Michelle Horner​)

    1) Make a playlist of the current song you're working on and the next 3 songs.
    2) Listen to it as much as possible.

​Daily Listening will ​teach your child what they're supposed to sound like. It will also give them a clear goal. Additionally, they'll develop an understanding of the song before​ they learn to play it, rather than trying to understand the structure and melody of the song ​while also ​trying to learn the notes. ​As a result, they'll progress much faster.

​Now that you understand the importance of Praise, Practice, and Listening, use each of them as a routine part of your child's musical life. Be sure to keep an eye out for my next blog post. In it, I'll be rounding out our overview of the Suzuki Principles.

    Kale Good