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Danielle Gomez

Sure they can hear it.... but can a Suzuki student read it?

January 24, 2009 at 7:48 AM

It was suggested to me via private message responses that I cover sight reading in the Suzuki method for my next blog.  I feel like this is an excellent facet to touch on.

So can a Suzuki student read music?  Talk about a loaded question.  More often than not, "traditionally" taught teachers and players will scoff at the Suzuki method for this reason alone.  It is a very common misconception that the "Suzuki method" teaches students to learn by ear alone.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Regardless of the method being taught, a great deal actually depends on the teacher (shocking, I know).  When the Suzuki method hit the United States, it created this huge phenomenon.  Suddenly there was this series of books out there that practically taught students for you!  How easy is that?!?  The pieces build on themselves in regards to techninque, there's no higher power saying that you have to be "authorized" to teach Suzuki, all you have to do is tell the student to pop in the tape.

Sadly, what we see here now in the US are the results of that lack of mediation.  Many of the students who learned from the Suzuki method books may not have actually been taught by a Suzuki teacher.  The teacher may not have actually known anything about the man OR his philosophies.  Fortunately, improvements are being made.  The Suzuki Association of the Americas is making teacher training more readily available.  This is causing some of said teachers to begin crawling out of the woodwork as it were.

So to answer the sight reading question: a true Suzuki student should be able to read.  In fact, sight reading is a topic covered ad naseum in any Suzuki teacher training course (either short term or long term training).  It has always been considered an important aspect of playing by Shinichi Suzuki.  Children should begin learning how to read music when they start reading in school.

Something to keep in mind to wrap up: just beucase something is taught differently does not mean that something is taught incorrectly. 

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