An Application of the Philosophy of Shinichi Suzuki to Selected American and European Piano Pedagogical Materials.

Cheryl Juanita Rutledge, Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College


The purpose of this study was to develop a curriculum which could serve as an alternative or supplement to the Suzuki Piano School, Volume One, while adhering to Shinichi Suzuki's Talent Education approach. The need for an easier preliminary curriculum was suggested by the researcher's personal observation that the typical four- to six-year-old child requires nine to twelve months of study to master the Variations on "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," the first piece in the Suzuki-sanctioned publication. A total of 30 pieces was selected for the pre-"Twinkle" curriculum, encompassing the following featured techniques: (1) forearm staccato; (2) "Drop-Roll," consisting of a drop of the forearm for the attack and a forward-rolling and lifting motion at the wrist for the release, for a tenuto touch; and (3) two-note slurs. An abridged list, consisting of 16 pieces, was susggested as a minimum curriculum. A pedagogical analysis of the post-"Twinkle" repertoire, consisting of 18 pieces, revealed the following data: (1) 38.8% of the pieces are similar or identical to material contained in Ernest Van de Velde's Methode-Rose; (2) 55.5% of the pieces have broken-chord (Alberti-bass) accompaniments for the left hand; (3) 77.7% of the pieces are in C major; (4) 50% of the pieces are arrangements of folk songs; (5) only two phrases in one piece have the melody played by the left hand; (6) there are no pieces in contemporary idioms; and (7) there are no duets or other ensemble works. A total of 59 pieces was selected for the post-"Twinkle" supplementary curriculum. Classifications were as follows: (1) modes other than major, (2) major keys other than C, (3) left-hand melodies, (4) melodies divided between the hands, (5) melodies mirrored or imitated between the hands, (6) contemporary idioms, and (7) duets. Three lists, each containing 19 or 20 pieces representing a cross-section of the technical and musical features appearing in the selected repertoire, were prepared as examples of a balanced supplementary curriculum, arranged sequentially. The selected curriculum has greater stylistic and technical variety than the Suzuki repertoire. Each piece should be evaluated in the studio for effectiveness as a rote etude.