Every child can learn
Suzuki spent endless hours in the company of children, playing with them and observing the way they learn. Their insatiable curiosity and sense of wonder led him to conclude that every child can learn, not just a favoured few believed to be born with talent, and that their potential for learning is limited only by a poor environment and inadequate adult expectations: “The ability demonstrated by children receiving attention as being prodigies or geniuses may be the kind which many ordinary children may be able to attain if given the chance… the kind of ability people think is common in society is really the lowest level of ability humans can display.”
Ability develops early
"Children in Japan speak Japanese so well!" The light-bulb moment that inspired Suzuki in his life's work was the realisation that all children, wherever in the world they live, learn to speak the native language easily - not by being sent to school, but through self-motivated listening, observation, imitation and repetition from birth.
Whatever their views in the nature versus nurture debate, when it comes to talking, adults do tend to believe that ‘every child can learn.’ Outward progress in language development varies enormously from child to child, and is always very slow to begin with, but parents do not anxiously bring their child to an expert and ask if the child is gifted in speech; they wait, encourage, and - most importantly - believe it will happen. Sure enough, everyone gets there in the end.
Suzuki saw in this the key to education, and developed an approach to teaching based on the same principles: The Mother Tongue Method.
Environment nurtures growth
We learn to talk, imitating the language of the place in which we are brought up, in order to survive, to communicate with others and fit in. Suzuki called this instinct the life-force, and such is the strength of the life-force, everything is imitated, good and bad. What Suzuki discovered through observation, modern technology has now validated: the most recent neurological research proves beyond all doubt that the quality of the learning environment in which a child is brought up has a direct affect upon the growth of the human brain, and that when the learning environment is impoverished, the brain literally does not grow as well. The primary learning environment of a young child is the home; the parents are the first and most important teachers; the crucial component of an enriched learning environment is love.
You can give your child an ear for music simply by surrounding him/her with an enriched musical environment - and coming to Music at Heart is an excellent place to start!
Tabitha (aged 9), a Music at Heart recorder pupil, wrote this story during the school holidays. On one level, it may be read as a simple and charming story; on a deeper level it reveals the principles of the Suzuki philosophy at work in a child’s life.