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What is the Suzuki Method?

One of the key concepts of the Suzuki Method is the Suzuki Triangle. The teacher and the parent create the foundation of the triangle; they work together to create a positive and successful experience for the child. The respect and commitment between the teacher and parent is vital for the child's success.

A second key component of the Suzuki Method is that the instrument is learned using the "Mother-Tongue" language learning principles. Dr. Suzuki observed that "all Japanese children speak Japanese" merely by being surrounded by the language in their environment. Similarly, by surrounding children with a musical environment and using language learning principle, children can be taught the skills to play an instrument at very young ages.

Some other unique aspects of the Suzuki Method include:

  • Early Beginnings: Language centers are developed in the brain between ages 3-5. These years of development are also crucial for body coordination. 
  • Listening: Just as one learns to speak before one learns to read/write, so to does the Suzuki student learn to play and produce sounds on the instrument before reading music. Listening daily to the recordings is essential for not only learning the tunes, but to also develop a sense of beautiful tone, dynamics, phrasing, and overall musicianship.
  • Parent Involvement: The parent will learn to play the Twinkle variations and be the home teacher. During the private lesson the parent will take notes for home practice assignments. The parent is also our number one cheerleader! 
  • Step-by-Step: Skills are broken down into small segments so that they are easily mastered by the student. Each step is securely learned before moving on; old skills are used as building blocks for new skills.
  • Improvement & Refinement: "Old" or review pieces are continually practiced and played to provide a means of refinement in the child's skills.
  • Encouragement and positive reinforcement fosters confidence and ensures that your child feels successful along the way. Since each child is an individual and treated as such, your child successfully progresses at his or her own pace.
  • Repetition: Skills are mastered through creative repetition, positive encouragement,  and daily practice.
  • Environment: It is important to create a positive, nurturing, and musical environment, both in lessons and at home. Children will flourish if they are provided such surroundings!

The ultimate goal of the Suzuki Method is not to create excellent violinists, but as Dr. Suzuki said to "create beautiful human beings." Children who learn music through the Suzuki Method are not only instilled with the value of dedication and patience, but also acquire confidence and strong self-esteem.

The Schedule

Suzuki students participate in both a weekly private lesson and a group class. Group classes take place on Monday evenings (intermediate students and advanced students) at Park St. Baptist Church (Park St. & Elmwood) and on Saturday mornings (beginning to intermediate students) in the String Project Building (Park & College). Private lesson times are scheduled by the parent and teacher throughout the week. Private lessons take place at Park St. Baptist Church in the Education Building. 


The Suzuki Academy of Columbia & USC has two terms that include a weekly private lesson and group class for the students. The fall term is late August through December (12-13 weeks) and spring term is January through May (16-17 weeks).

Weekly private lessons allow for one-on-one time with the private instructor. During the private lesson, the parent is asked to take notes to ensure they fully understand the assignments. Parents are considered the “home teacher” and are required to attend the weekly private lessons with their children. They are responsible for establishing their child's daily practice routine and working with them on reinforcing the concepts and exercises assigned by the instructor.

Group classes motivate, inspire, and provide students with the opportunity to create music with their peers. Group classes often include students of a variety of ages and skills - much like the Montessori system. Younger students are inspired by older students and older students have the chance to work on their leadership skills and ensemble playing. Group class teachers use a variety of games and activities to review and introduce string skills in each class. 

Brand New Beginners

* It is recommended that all brand new beginners are ages 3 - 7 years old * 

Please note: ALL new beginners, ages 7 and under, begin their studies on a box or foam instrument (violins, violas, cellos only). There are many reasons for this: 

1. Children must learn that their instrument is different from their regular toys – the foam/box is their instrument for the time being.
2. Foam/box instruments help children learn to focus as we spend time in the first  lessons counting, singing and standing/sitting still with        the foam instrument.

3. Foam/box instruments help children learn how to take a bow.
4. Foam/box instruments help children learn to move from rest position to play position.
5. Foam/box instruments help children learn how to walk, sit and stand with their instrument without dropping them.
6. Fake bows allow the students to learn the skill of what a good bow hold is without worrying about the complexities of the hair and rosin.

The development of these skills allow for an easier transition onto the real instrument. This process teaches delayed gratification, patience and persistence, which are just a few character traits we hope to help children and parents develop in these beginning stages. We respect that every child will move through the Pre-Twinkle phase with their box instrument/bow at their own pace. We ask that parents allow the student to learn these skills in their own time; be aware that this time in the Pre-Twinkle phase is important for establishing fundamental posture and can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. As Dr. Suzuki said, “Never hurry, never rest.”

Interested? Now what ...

Requirements for Brand New Beginning Families:


          ./ Fill out an new student enrollment form

          ./ Please read through the Policies & Fees 

          ./ Observe 3 Private Lessons (click here to contact our teachers and set up a time)

          ./ Attend the Brand New  Parent Orientation Session (dates TBD)

         ./ Read the book "Nurtured by Love" by Shinichi Suzuki

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