Blog | Feb 11

Music Is An Aural Language

Nancy Toone, our new Suzuki Flute faculty member, recounts her journey with the Suzuki method as a flutist.

"Music is an aural language," new Gifted Music School Flute faculty member, Nancy Toone, articulated, as she described a core concept that guides the famous pedagogical method of Mr. Shinichi Suzuki. When her friend became the first Suzuki flute pupil in the United States studying under the tutelage of Mr. Takahashi, Nancy Toone observed what transpired, in admiration. Not only was Nancy's friend teaching extremely young students, she was nurturing them with the Suzuki method and through it, they sounded fabulous when they played, and seemed to enjoy making music.
 
Toone immediately started the Suzuki teacher training courses.
 
"Suzuki students are taught, from the beginning, to listen," Nancy explained. "In normal music education, students think about what they see, but are not really taught to listen to how they're playing." She commented that if she were to ask any of her Suzuki students to play the melody of "Jingles Bells," every one of them could figure it out because they've repeatedly heard that tune. Since people instinctively mimic and imitate what they hear, as babies do whilst language learning, they can, in theory, match the fingerings and pitches and tone on an instrument to what they hear. Suzuki students are thus constantly listening, listening, listening.
 
Even so, often people have a misconception that the Suzuki method is only about ear-training. It is, in fact, carefully focused on both aural and reading skills. Beyond those two fundamental skills, its overarching goal is to produce a "beautiful heart" in the child, and consequently, bring joy to that student as they play. "Though all teachers have high expectations," Nancy expounded, "we're trying to help the student find joy in music and in their playing."
 
As a former adjunct professor of flute at Weber State University, Utah State University, Brigham Young University-Idaho, and Utah Valley University, and as a teacher in her own private studios, Nancy has taught a wide range of students at all ages, or in her words, "The full gamut!" Coming to Gifted Music School, she is excited to see the Suzuki Flute Program take off, serving students of all ages and abilities. Strings are typically associated with the Suzuki method, and she is anxious to see the flute become more recognized and known as a Suzuki instrument, and have access to Suzuki opportunities.
 
When asked what the biggest challenge of teaching Suzuki flute is, Nancy responded, "You always need many tricks in your bag!" Capturing and keeping the attention of young flutists is a feat. Following that comment, she said, "It's rewarding to see their eyes light up," when they make a connection, or playing beautifully, or hear that they sound like their teacher. "Those little milestones you see students achieve - that's what makes being a teacher so exciting." 
 

Sign up for Suzuki flute here

Music Is An Aural Language | Gifted Music School

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