The Mother Tongue Teaching Philosophy is based on a strong Teacher/Parent/Child relationship.
The role of the teacher is to build a strong working relationship with the parent and child; To provide a learning experience for the child based on positive reinforcement and respect; To be sensitive to each family’s individual situation and to provide support and guidance throughout the ups and downs of their musical journey.
The role of the parent is to work with the teacher to provide a strong, positive nurturing environment for the child; To oversee in-home practice sessions, following the instructions of the teacher.This partnership creates the perfect support system for online study.
"Musical ability is not an inborn talent but an ability which can be developed. Any child who is properly trained can develop musical ability just as all children develop the ability to speak their mother tongue. The potential of every child is unlimited."- Dr. Shinichi Suzuki
Dr. Suzuki believed that, like learning a language, musical education is a universal thing. That is, everyone has the potential to learn to speak the language of music, in the same way they have the potential to learn their spoken language.
Often, traditional musical educators believe that not all people can attain musical proficiency. Many insist on auditioning young students to assess musical potential before accepting them.
Dr. Suzuki did not understand these traditional values, so he set out to prove the validity of his theory of musical universality. To do this, he made it his practice to accept all students, young or old into his program. The proof was in the results. As with learning a language, some were more proficient than others, but all were able to learn how to play. This was not restricted to just the students studying with him, but to the hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of students being taught by Suzuki teachers across the globe.
I made it my policy many years ago to accept all students. As a result, I have seen students labelled as having no musical potential by traditional standards go on to become professional musicians; kids with ADHD increase focus and concentration; others in the Autism spectrum performing with confidence; adults with no previous musical experience learning to perform pieces as well as improvise with ease….. the list could go on and on – all this due to Mother Tongue Learning.
The biggest test for my efforts to extend Mother Tongue Learning beyond the performance of classical music is universality, especially when it comes to improvisation.
If the Teacher/Parent/Student relationship is strong, much can be accomplished.
It is often assumed that one must be some sort of musical prodigy to be able to improvise in music. If this train of thought were applied to speaking, one would have to have a PHD in English before they could form words into spontaneous thoughts.
My experimentation in this area has been developed over four generations of students. All were able to become proficient in this discipline. Today, the fifth generation sees students as young as six are learning improvisational elements and are improvising fluently by age seven or eight.
It is so exciting for me to be able to listen to a student perform a piece by Bach or Beethoven, followed by exchanging improvisations with me in several genres all in the same lesson. To me, this is Mother Tongue Learning in action!