Kodaly, Suzuki and Traditional Methods for Teaching Violin

Teacher helping student playing violin.
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There are various techniques used by music educators when it comes to teaching students how to play the violin. This article will shed some light on the most popular violin teaching methods.

Kodaly Method

Origin

Although the method wasn't exactly invented by Zoltan Kodaly, there is no doubt it developed under his guidance during the 1940's and 50's. Zoltan Kodaly was born in Hungary and learned how to play the violin, piano, and cello without formal schooling.

He went on to write music and became close friends with Bartók. He received his Ph.D. and gained critical praise for his works--especially music that was meant for children. Throughout his career, Kodaly composed a lot of music, put on concerts with young musicians, wrote many articles and conducted lectures. He died in 1967.

Philosophy

Music education is most effective when started early and everyone is capable of musical literacy. Singing is stressed as the foundation for musicianship and the use of folk and composed music of high artistic value. Music is the core curriculum.

Technique

Students listen to native folk songs that will expand their minds to the great music of other countries and cultures as the lessons progress. They will play musical instruments, sing and dance from memory as they achieve mastery of musical skills. Children will learn how to read music and compose. Some of the tools used in the Kodaly Method are the tonic sulfa, hand signals and rhythmic duration syllables.

Parents' Role

Parent take a passive role, and the music teacher is the primary instructor. The method is sequenced and structured, closely relating to a child's natural development.

Suzuki Method

Origin

The Suzuki method was developed by the late Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, an accomplished Japanese violinist. He played for the Imperial Court of Japan and formed the Suzuki Quartet with his siblings.

Dr. Shinichi Suzuki then went on to start a music school and in 1964, the Suzuki method was introduced to the United States. Shinichi Suzuki died on January 27, 1998.

Philosophy

The method was based on Suzuki's observation of children when he was in Germany. He observed that children are able to learn their mother tongue with no difficulty. He noted that children who are born in German households naturally learn to speak the German language. Children who are born in a Japanese household would naturally adapt their native language. He concluded that a child's environment greatly influences his/her development.

Technique

Using the "Talent Education Movement," children start taking violin lessons by age 2 or 3. Suzuki students are first exposed to great classical recordings and music pieces that they will eventually learn. Background music will constantly be playing while children are at school to immerse them in music. The belief behind this is that children will learn to develop good musical ears, able to detect changes in pitch, timing, tone, etc. Students learn by observation, they learn as a group. Social interaction and cooperation are fostered among students.

Parents' Role

The Suzuki method stresses the importance of parental influence and involvement.

They are encouraged to work together with teachers to achieve a common goal. Parents are expected to attend lessons and serve as teachers at home.

Traditional Method

Origin 

It is believed that materials for violin instruction surfaced in the mid-eighteenth century. "The Art of Playing on the Violin" by Francesco Geminiani came out in 1751 and is believed to be one of the first violin instruction books. In his book, Geminiani covered basic violin playing skills such as scales, fingering and bowing.

Philosophy 

This method recommends that child be at least 5 years old before taking music lessons. Students are encouraged to work alone on their skill and there may or may not be group activities.

Technique 

Unlike the Suzuki Method which emphasizes rote learning, the Traditional Method stresses note reading.

Lessons begin with simple tunes, folk songs, and etudes.

Parents' Role 

Like the Kodaly method, parents play a passive role, often their presence in the classroom is not an integral part of the learning environment. It is the teacher who plays the primary role as educator.