"Combining the best of two worlds".....
Mother Tongue Approach
Saskatoon Talent Education utilizes "Mother Tongue" Musical Education techniques as developed by the late Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. This revolutionary philosophy of musical education is based on individual growth, providing a strong learning environment, and nurturing the student through positive reinforcement. The backbone is the "Mother Tongue" approach, teaching a student to play the piano in the same way as they would naturally learn to speak their language. This involves listening, imitation and repetition, which develops a strong ear, superior concentration and excellent memory. Because children begin learning their language as soon as they are born, and learn to express their thoughts in complex sentences at an early age, they can also begin their musical education earlier than is the norm with more traditional teaching methods.
The concept is simple..... children begin learning to play the piano without music, in the same way that they begin to learn their language without being able to read words. Learning in this way allows them to quickly develop superior listening skills and to concentrate on creating good sound and building strong technique. Since music is the "Language of sound", this makes perfect sense. Traditional methods begin by focussing on the visual, teaching abstracts like notation, first. The development of the ear is secondary, and even often ignored. The result is refined reading and interpretive skills, with minimal ability to learn by using the ear or to perform spontaneously. We all know people who spent years studying "traditionally", preparing for exams and achieving at least a Grade VIII status, but who can no longer play after finishing their studies. This is the danger when the development of the ear is ignored.
Drawing from the Past
The "Traditional" approach to musical education is not without its benefits. Its focus is on the study of notation, a necessary skill for any musician. Also, of great value is the ability to musically interpret the various styles of the Classical Repertoire. Saskatoon Talent Education begins an intense reading program as soon as good listening skills have been established with the student.
Using Repertoire to Build Strong Technique
The Suzuki Piano Repertoire (especially Books One and Two) were brilliantly compiled to build technical skills not studied for years in Traditional Methods. With young children, Saskatoon Talent Education utilizes the Suzuki Repertoire (Books One and Two) to establish strong performance skills on the keyboard. After this, our approach differs from both the Traditional and Suzuki Methods.
How We Differ
The Traditional and Suzuki Methods focus solely on the Classical Repertoire. Saskatoon Talent Education introduces the basics of blues as a companion to the standard repertoire when students have attained a Suzuki Book Two level of performance. These exercises (written in-house and available only to Saskatoon Talent Education students) were developed over a decade ago and have proven to be very effective in teaching the elements of 12-Bar progressions and building a high level of independence in the hands. At this point, students are presented with a number of options, including continuing with the standard repertoire; studying a combination of standard and more contemporary repertoire (pop, jazz, blues); primarily learning more contemporary repertoire.
Our Keyboard Theory course is offered as a companion to piano instruction. Rather than being taught as a separate subject, as is the norm, Saskatoon Talent's Keyboard Theory is performed at the keyboard by the student at each weekly lesson. This course is unique to Saskatoon Talent Education and covers the elements of music, such as chords, scales, patterns, progressions. etc. in all keys. It provides the tools for the development of strong improvisational skills in a variety of styles, as well as song writing, he harmonisation of fake charts and much more. Keyboard Theory is a progressive course, designed for students from beginner to advanced.
Speaking The Language
Music has been described as "The language of sound". The highest form of speaking any language is the ability to translate random thoughts into sentences. When we have spontaneous conversations, we are improvising. In music,the most advanced level of musical ability should be to have a "conversation with sound"...... to improvise. Unfortunately, the elements of improvisation are not addressed at all in both the Traditional and Suzuki Methods.
In speech, children begin to improvise with their thoughts at a very early age. In music, should this not also be the case? At Saskatoon Talent Education, the goal is to combine the best elements of the Suzuki Philosophy and the Traditional Method and add the building blocks for early improvisation.