As when a child learns to talk, parents are involved in the musical learning of their child. They attend lessons and serve as "home teachers" during the week. Sometimes, a parent learns to play before the child, so that s/he understands what the child is expected to do. Parents work with the teacher to create an enjoyable learning environment.
The early years are crucial for developing mental processes and muscle coordination. Listening to music should begin at birth; formal training may begin at age three or four, but it is never too late to start.
Children learn words after hearing them spoken hundreds of times by others. Listening to music every day is important, especially listening to pieces in the Suzuki repertoire so the child recognizes them immediately.
Constant repetition is essential in learning to play an instrument. Children do not learn a word or piece of music, and then discard it. They add it to their vocabulary or repertoire, gradually using it in new and more sophisticated ways.
As with language, the child's effort to learn an instrument should be met with sincere praise and encouragement. Each child learns at his/her own rate, building on small steps so that each one is first mastered, before moving on to the next. Children are also encouraged to support each other's efforts, fostering an attitude of generosity and cooperation.
Learning with Other Children
In addition to private lessons, children participate in regular group lessons and performances, where they learn from and are motivated by peers. Frequent concerts and opportunities to play in a public forum ensure that performing is both natural and enjoyable. These special events motivate the children to practice. Dressing in their concert attire and preparing themselves for a performance further develops the child's confidence and pride.
Children do not practice exercises to learn to talk, but use language for its natural purpose of communication and self-expression. Pieces in the Suzuki repertoire are designed to present technical problems to be learned in the context of the music, rather than through dry, technical exercises.
In language, children learn to read only after their ability to talk has been well established. In the same way, children should learn music by ear and develop basic technical competence on their instruments before being taught to read music.