The Suzuki Master Class

by Danette Schuh

What is it?
Master class provides one-on-one time with a master teacher. Each master class has only 4 or 5 students, providing 10-15 minutes per child for instruction. 

What does the student play?
During the Master class, the student will be asked to play a memorized, polished piece. (A polished piece must be performed fluently from memory with correct notes, fingering, dynamics, bowing, and style.) 

What do the other students and parents do?
When not playing for the teacher, students and parents listen while others receive individual attention, learning from peer observation. The teacher may ask the others to write an observation or listen for something specific while the other student is playing. 

What does the teacher focus on?
The master teacher teaches a one-point mini-lesson, using the polished piece as a means of instruction on ways to specifically improve the level of the student’s playing and refine aspects of their technique, musicianship and musicality. This is not effective when working on their newest piece. They should never begin to learn a new piece in a master class. They learn to make their polished piece even better. When you see the amazing things that can happen in a one-day master class, you might really enjoy a week-long music camp or summer Suzuki Institute where you have an entire week of intensive and inspiring work in the master class. Many students can reach entirely new levels of performance this way. 

What is Suzuki’s “One Point Teaching”?
Choose one point (whether it is tone, posture, bow hold, rhythm, dynamics, phrasing, style, articulation, etc.) and continue to work on that point in the master class or over the course of an institute or workshop week to allow the student to develop in- depth knowledge and thorough mastery of that one point. 

Quote: “Suzuki teachers employ the concept of one-point teaching. We will focus on only one technique at a time, temporarily overlooking others so that we do not overwhelm the child with instructions about several different things at once.”
~Ed Kreitman, Director of Western Springs School of Talent Education and SAA Teacher Trainer