Community Music School
Hugh Hodgson School of Music
250 River Road, Room 230
Athens, GA 30602-7287
(706) 542-2894




Suzuki Method
Violin, Viola, and Guitar
Private instruction and weekly group classes
for students ages 4+

What is the Suzuki Method?

The Suzuki method was developed by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, son of a Japanese violin-maker.  Born in 1898, he learned violin on his own for many years before traveling to Berlin in the 1920’s for further study.  While struggling with the German language himself, he noted that children all over the world learn to speak their native languages with ease - with nearly 100% success rate - regardless of how complicated it might be.  Dr. Suzuki studied this process and realized some of the key ingredients, and then applied those techniques towards music study. Below you will find some of the aspects of the method that contribute to student success in the Suzuki Method.


Every Child Can Learn
At the heart of the Suzuki Method is the belief that Every Child Can Learn. Suzuki teachers teach with the belief that talent is not something that is inborn, but something that is developed through environment. Yes, some students will acquire musical skills easier than others, but Suzuki teachers believe that all students are capable of becoming fine musicians, recognizing refinement and beauty, when the proper environment is provided. Suzuki teachers work closely with the parents of their students to assist in developing this environment at home and in the lessons.

Parental Involvement
Parental involvement and commitment are very important since the beginning Suzuki student is often as young as 4 years old. It is best if one parent chooses to take on the responsibilties of attending all lessons, group lessons, and assisting with daily home practice. During the weekly private lesson, the Suzuki teacher will train the parent to be the "home practice coach" or "practice parent" during the week.

Early Beginning
Studies have found that a baby's ears begin to form around 8 weeks in utero, and are structurally complete by 24 weeks! It has been proven that music heard repeatedly in-utero will elicit obvious reactions of recognition from the baby after birth. For this reason, it is never too early to begin playing music for your baby!! Early childhood classes are wonderful for the development of rhythm, pitch, motor skills and coordination. Formal private instruction in the Suzuki Method usually begins as early as 4 years old. Learning by ear initially enables a child to begin learning to play before they are able to read or recognize the symbols of letters and numbers.

Children learn to speak by listening to their parents speech patterns, and then imitating.  Children progress quickly when their efforts are met with praise and encouragement at every step.  Very young children frequently develop large vocabularies with very little effort. Suzuki students develop their musical vocabulary by listening daily to recordings of the music they will be learning. The performers are world-class musicians of the highest caliber. When students listen to the Suzuki recording regularly, the aural vocabulary of beautiful sound, playing in tune, playing with a good rhythmic pulse, as well as musical phrasing and dynamics become part of their playing with little effort, not to mention the notes and rhythms of the pieces they will play.

Delayed Reading
Suzuki students develop their musical ears before they are introduced to notes on a staff, just as children are not expected to read their language before they speak.  Initially, Suzuki students listen to, and learn to play, a number of pieces by ear rather than reading the notes on the page. Not being distracted by the musical page allows students to concentrate on developing a balanced posture, and a beautiful sound.  Music reading is delayed until the elements of posture and good tone are developed, although pre-reading exercises begin as early as the first lesson.

A key element of success on any musical instrument is repetition. Suzuki teachers use games to disguise repetition in lessons and practice, so students are able to master one skill quickly (while having fun!) before adding another. The Suzuki Method repertoire is also carefully structured to include repetition of skills from piece to piece, again giving the student the opportunity to master each skill over time.

Small Steps and Encouragement

The Suzuki Method is built in such a way that each new skill is presented in small chunks that even the youngest of children can master quickly. From there, if necessary, the Suzuki teacher knows how to break each skill into as many smaller steps as needed to suit the learning speed for each student individually. There is no step too small, and no achievement too small for recognition! Each success of the child is met with enthusiasm and encouragement, motivating them to continue further.

Review Repertoire
Does your child still say their "first word"? What has changed about the way your child says that word now compared to the first time? Just as repeating words over and over again refines speech, and just as we don't throw out our early words but retain them as part of our vocabulary, playing past musical repertoire mindfully refines musical skills, and is the key to becoming a master of the techniques and skills presented throughout the method. "Old" songs are retained and new concepts are applied, bringing those older pieces to a higher level of musicality and ability.

Private AND Group Instruction
The Suzuki Method is based on the combination of a weekly private lesson and a weekly group class.   While private instruction is necessary to learn and master the finer details of string playing, group classes serve to motivate and inspire children of all levels and ages.  Suzuki teachers use creative strategies to work on common skills during the group classes including musical games and exercises. 

Child-Parent-Teacher Triangle

The success of the Suzuki Method for each child lies in the strength of this triangle. Parent and Teacher must work closely together to ensure the Child's success. Communication and partnership between all 3 members of this triangle are essential, and Suzuki teachers are specially trained and experienced in working with children and their parents to guide, inspire, encourage, and motivate.

Why do we teach the Suzuki Method?
The goal of a Suzuki teacher is not only to develop the musician in every student, but to nurture the entire child and teach important life skills such as coordination, self-evaluation and motivation, listening skills, patience, perseverance, as well as a regard for beauty in themselves, music, and others.  The Suzuki method is structured in such a way that new ideas are presented in small steps so the child can succeed and be proud of their achievements with every new skill.   Old skills serve as building blocks for new material so the child is always developing a larger vocabulary.  With positive guidance from the parent and teacher, the child develops confidence and a strong self-esteem.


To get started
New Suzuki students are accepted each semester. Starting in the Fall semester is ideal because students will have the full Fall and Spring semester (28 lessons) to develop a foundation of skills with the consistency of weekly lessons, not necessarily available during the summer months. Starting in the Spring is acceptable, but we do not start new beginners in the Summer semester.

Parent Training - Violin/Cello - 1 semester
The role of the parent in the Suzuki method is instrumental! Not only do parents attend all lessons and group classes, but parents are expected to set aside time daily to practice with the child between lessons, and to ensure the student listens to the reference recording daily. Since this is unfamiliar territory for most parents, and violin is a very detail-oriented instrument (and we want your children to be as successful as possible), we ask the parents of new beginners to attend our Mandatory Parent Training Course during the first semester of study by the child. These classes are the first step in developing and nurturing the Child-Parent-Teacher Triangle mentioned above.

There is no extra fee for the classes - they are included in the regular Suzuki tuition, and generally replace the group classes your child will have in future semesters during their first semester of study. The meeting time of these parent classes varies by semester. All new parents will be contacted after the beginning of lessons to determine the schedule for this course. It is generally a 6 week course, meeting on a weekday evening during the middle of the semester.

The classes give us the opportunity to assist parents with setting up an efficient, productive, and positive practice schedule so their children can move at the fastest possible pace. Parents are also taught how to play the violin/cello at a very basic level so they have a better appreciation and understanding of what their children are being taught and why each step is so important. Parents will be expected to rent or borrow an instrument for the classes, but child instruments are rarely needed for at least part (or all) of the first semester. Parents are also given lots of opportunities to ask questions and often report that getting to know other parents in the program - their struggles and successes - is as helpful as our professional guidance!! A specific schedule of meetings will be given at the beginning of each semester.


New Suzuki students will start by having 30-minute private lessons. Students generally join group classes during their 2nd semester of lessons. The Parent Training Classes comprise the group class portion of study during the first semester. Each semester contains 14 weeks of lessons. The day and time of lessons is determined between student and teacher after registration is complete.

As students progress, longer lesson times are needed in order for the teacher to adequately prepare the student for upcoming skills and challenges. Generally, students will be asked to increase to 45 minute lessons upon completion of Suzuki Book 1, and to 1 hour lessons around the time the student is in Book 4. Most students do not increase lesson length for at least the first 2 years of study. When longer lesson times are needed, the student can expect their teacher to be in communication with the parent and financial adjustments will be made by the CMS office.

Group Classes

It is expected that all Suzuki students will participate not only in the private lessons, but in the group classes as well. There are generally 10 group classes each semester, plus group performances around the community later in each semester. Schedules for the classes and performances are given to enrolled parents as early as possible in the semester. Group classes generally begin the 3rd or 4th week of lessons each semester. Students who do not feel they can attend group classes will not be given a financial credit and may be given less priority in lesson scheduling. Group classes are generally held on Monday afternoons between the hours of 5 - 6:30. A specific time will be assigned once lessons have begun.

Enrollment ultimately dictates how students are divided into group classes, but generally, students are assigned a group class with students of similar ability. In any given semester we can have as few as 3, and as many as 6 levels of group classes.


If you are interested in our Suzuki program, please begin by reading our Policies for All Students and Fees pages and contact the CMS office to let us know you are interested. You can also register online using this link. All beginning Suzuki parents are required to attend an orietation meeting scheduled by the director. Please be sure your registration is submitted on time so you can be notified of the meeting time and date.

For more information about the Suzuki Method, please visit the Suzuki Association of the Americas' website.

All CMS private lessons are held in the School of Music building.

Please visit the following pages for additional information before registering for Private lessons in the Community Music School:

Policies for All Students





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Suggested reading material about
the Suzuki Method:

Nurtured by Love, by Shinichi Suzuki

Ability Development from Age Zero, by Shinichi Suzuki

both texts can be purchased from