The Suzuki Flute Method
The Suzuki violin method developed by Shinichi Suzuki in the late 50’s is well known to most parents –however, included under the Suzuki umbrella are methods for many other instruments, including the Suzuki Flute School. We are fortunate to have a tireless and enthusiastic proponent of this beautiful and expressive instrument in Toshio Takahashi, a Japanese flutist who developed the Suzuki flute method books.
Mr. Takahashi’s story is very interesting, but I will save that for a later post. Suffice to say that he came to the United States to study with the famous French flutist Marcel Moyse, who is considered one of the greatest flute teachers of all time and with whom generations of American flutists have studied. Mr. Moyse lived and taught in the United States near Brattleboro, Vermont, and that is where Mr. Takahashi made his way to study with him.
Upon his return to Japan and at the request of Shinichi Suzuki, Takahashi developed the Suzuki Flute School, using many of the principals he learned from maestro Moyse. Chief among these are tone development and musical expression.
Reading Music and Listening!
The Suzuki method places equal emphasis on reading music as well as listening to the repertoire and learning to play by ear. This is practically unheard of (pun intended!) in the world of traditional music lessons. An entire aspect of musicianship totally ignored and marginalized!
The Suzuki learner has two books, one for learning by ear and another for learning to read music, ie: staff and notes. Since many youngsters in the Suzuki Flute School are just learning to read anyway, this is appropriate for them as well. Listening to music is integral to the Suzuki method, the student who is familiar with a song before they start playing it will learn very quickly. A lot of listening is encouraged.
The Suzuki Triangle
Another effective aspect of the Suzuki method is the famous “Suzuki Triangle” which consists of teacher, parent and student. This set-up virtually guarantees success at home. Parents sit in on lessons and listen to their child play the assignments at home. Parents assume the role of teacher at home –listening to practice sessions, looking out for good habits and offering praise for work well done.
A practice session should last anywhere from 10-15 minutes, consistently, at least 5-6 days per week. In some studios, parents are encouraged to learn to play the flute too –at least at a rudimentary level– so they can coach and listen to their child more effectively. This isn’t entirely necessary and ultimately won’t affect the child’s learning curve, but it is fun to be able to play a bit with your child.
Group Flute Classes
Group classes are another great reason to choose Suzuki Flute. In addition to a weekly private lesson Suzuki students participate in group classes, these can run weekly, or in some cases for a set number of times per semester –and they always culminate in a concert for family and friends. The goal of the groups are to solidify what’s already learned through playing together, adding harmony parts to easy songs, and hearing others play. Interacting with other students in this way also creates camaraderie and a sense of community.
To find out more, as well as book a class with Laura Thompson and Suzuki Flute, visit KidzCentralStation.com.
I want to make good citizens. If a child hears fine music from the day of his birth and learns to play it himself, he develops sensitivity, discipline and endurance. He gets a beautiful heart.
Author: Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson, flutist & educator
Laura Thompson grew up in New York City. She began recorder lessons at the age of six at the Bloomingdale School of Music, and piano lessons at age eight, she played french horn in middle school, and finally settled on the flute at age thirteen. Laura studied flute performance at Queens College, CUNY, where she received both her Bachelors’s and Master’s in Flute Performance, later traveling to Europe to study historical performance on the baroque flute.
Laura has worked as a freelance musician for over 15 years, she has founded several chamber music groups, including the Zephyr Trio which specializes in music for weddings and other events, and Bacchanalia Baroque Ensemble, which is devoted to performances of early music on period instruments. Laura enjoys playing with diverse groups ranging from full orchestra to chamber ensemble. She currently teaches private lessons and group classes from her home studio in Manhattan and at Brooklyn College in the Preparatory Center for the Performing Arts.