Why Suzuki?

Why Suzuki? Thoughts on the Suzuki Guitar Method with Frank Chaprnka

Suzuki Guitar Method with Frank Chaprnka

Frank Chaprnka is an elementary music teacher and Suzuki guitar teacher in Naples, Florida and has been a guitar teacher for a little over 20 years.

Why Suzuki? Thoughts on the Suzuki Guitar Method with Frank Chaprnka

In this blog article, I would like to discuss why I teach the Suzuki Method for Guitar. Early on in my teaching career, I was somewhat hesitant to take students younger than 7 years old. The reason for this was I did not feel confident that I had the skills necessary to properly teach guitar to students so young. For many years, I limited myself to students older than 7 years old.

When my daughter turned 4, she had already been exposed to a lot of guitar and showed interest in learning how to play. At that time, I began looking for a method or a way to teach my daughter guitar properly. Through my research, I came across the Suzuki Method for Guitar. I had some prior knowledge of the Suzuki method in my music education program, but never really went into depth with it. At that time, I thought of the Suzuki as a violin method only, having seen many violin teachers using it. I was surprised to see that it was also a guitar method. The more I looked into the method, I was impressed by the things that I saw.

Suzuki Method for Guitar Specifics

Dr. Suzuki’s philosophy is that all children, in some capacity, can be musicians. Dr. Suzuki states the following in his book, Nurtured by Love: “Talent is not an accident of birth, but rather a product of a child’s environment”. As an elementary music teacher, I could not agree with that statement more. I liked what I read in Dr. Suzuki’s book so much that I went through the steps necessary to become a Suzuki guitar teacher and have been very happy ever since.

Some specific things that I really like about the method are as follows: parent involvement, tone and technique first, repertoire sequence, and the Suzuki community. I think it is fantastic that the Suzuki method really focuses on having the parents in the lesson. This is very different than a traditional lesson, much like I took learning guitar, where a student may be dropped off, works with the teacher for a period of time, and, maybe other than some things written down in a notebook or circled in a book, the parent really has no direct interaction. The Suzuki Method is different. The parent is in the lessons always. This is great because the parent really has a direct contact with what is being taught and also what is expected. In the first few lessons of the Suzuki Method only the parent is taught. This, in a sense, makes the parent the teacher and also now hopefully motivates the child to want to do what the parent is doing. The parents can then assist the child at home with what is being taught, so I think this is absolutely fantastic. It is something called the Suzuki Triangle where we have the parent, teacher and student all working together to really help the progress of the student.
Also, the Suzuki method focuses on tone and technique right in the beginning. To me, this is almost like a master class in every lesson. It is very different than, say, learning a new piece every week, or trying to get as much material in as possible. Instead, we really focus on how the student is playing. This focus on tone and technique really helps to build that student’s ability to play the pieces later on in the book. It’s an excellent thing, and something I really like about the method.

The repertoire and the way the books are lined up is fantastic, and the music is music by composers. It is folk melodies and real music, instead of exercises or learning the first few notes on a string. The student is playing real music from the beginning, and this, I think, is great. We have this real music right from the beginning.

Lastly, we have the Suzuki community of teachers, parents, and students all working together – this collaborative movement – to improve the method, which is always ongoing, and it’s really a wonderful thing to see and be a part of.

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