In the booklet I recently prepared on music improvisation/applied theory, I related the following anecdote about asking a question of Dr. Suzuki.
The last year that Dr. Suzuki came to the American Suzuki Institute in Steven’s Point, Wisconsin, I was there. When we were given a chance to ask our questions, I asked about sight reading musical notation, as there was at that time, some question as to whether we Suzuki teachers should be teaching this skill. He inquired as to whether the children in my area learned to read musical notation at school. I replied that not always did they learn this skill at school. Where upon, he brightened and replied,
“Whatever the student needs to know, the teacher needs to teach.”
This has been my guiding principle in all of my teaching. So, because improvisation is more and more a required skill for young musicians, I propose that we need to introduce it early on, as we do the other skills that we need to develop. Let’s take on the challenge of the present!
Alice Kay Kanack has developed a very informative improvisation method for piano students and also extended it to violin (see Fun Improvisation for…Violin, Viola, Cello, Piano). She does a very good job of laying out the philosophy and method of creative development. I highly recommend her books! She also makes the very well placed point that the famous classical music composers such as Hayden, Beethoven and Mozart all practiced improvisation exercises as young students. It is self evident that improvisation feeds into composing skills. With all this in mind, what I am proposing is an approach more through the use of Theory of Music. As soon as the student can play the first one octave scale with ease, he/she can use those notes as building blocks, mix them up and make up/improvise something. At first the attempt may sound labored and inert, but the student is becoming aware of the sounds of different consecutive intervals and what he/she likes better and they start to develop and use their imagination and get adventurous. Things get interesting and fun.