Suzuki students learn music just as they learn to speak their native language - first, children listen to language and learn how to emulate it, then they learn how to speak, then lastly read. Much like learning to speak a language, to be successful in music, we must immerse the child in the music they will learn by hearing it every day. If you're not listening on a daily basis, you won't be successful!
Listening daily to recordings of the Suzuki books is incredibly important for multiple reasons:
Ingrains the melody in the mind of the child so that learning to play it is much easier; music starts from within - if a student cannot sing a song, they cannot play it on their instrument.
Familiarizes the student with the elements of the entire song, not just the part they play on the cello
Gives an aural model for tone, tempo, style, and phrasing for the student to emulate
Motivates the child in that he will want to play familiar pieces
There are two ways to listen:
1. Passive listening is played softly in the background several times, in various places: bedtime, meals, homework, free play, in the car, etc. You'll know you're doing enough listening when your child can sing/hum the piece or they can start to pick out the notes on the cello.
2. Active listening is singing, dancing, drawing what they hear or following along with the music. If your child is struggling to learn the right notes, it simply means they need more listening on that particular piece. Active listening is an excellent tool, but should not replace passive listening.
Music is more than just correct notes! The printed page can offer only so much and listening teaches students the musicality of music, what makes music enjoyable to listen to and play.
If your child were to try to learn a song without having it imprinted in their mind, it would be as though they were trying to do a puzzle without knowing what picture it is. This is difficult for an adult, and even more so for a young person!
Your child will need to know not just “how the song goes,” but also have a clear mental image of the beautiful tone, timing, piano accompaniment, and tiny details of the performance. They are learning a language, not just the words, but also the accent and the subtleties of expression.
One of your biggest responsibilities as you begin lessons is to create a reliable and consistent listening routine. You will probably want to make multiples copies of the recording so that you can easily play it in the your child’s bedroom, living area, and the car. The better quality your listening routine, the better your child’s musical learning will be.
During the next two weeks, please work on setting up high-quality music players in the kitchen, living area and/or playroom, and your child’s bedroom. This will ensure that accomplishing the daily listening assignments is nearly effortless.
I cannot emphasize the importance of listening enough. If you are not doing the daily listening, your progress will slow to a crawl and practice will become overwhelmingly frustrating. I notice a difference in students who listen and those who don't not only in their ability to learn new pieces but also their ability to remember previously learned pieces. Listening is the remedy even if review is a struggle!