“Music is the universal language of mankind.”
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
When Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki studied music in Germany, he struggled to learn the German language. By the same token, he noted that German adults found the Japanese language difficult. And yet, he observed, all Japanese children learned to speak Japanese very naturally and German children learned German with ease. How could this be?
Dr. Suzuki had discovered what would become the basis for his renowned Suzuki Method of teaching young children, which is also known as the mother-tongue approach. This approach takes the natural process of language immersion and applies it to music education. Surround children with music, Dr. Suzuki thought, and learning music will be as natural as learning the native language.
In other words, children who follow the Suzuki Method start developing their auditory-musical intelligence early on.
What are Music Smarts?
Auditory-Musical intelligence, or “music smarts,” refers to the ability to use rhythm and melody. It’s just one of the abilities included in the Theory of Multiple Intelligences developed by psychologist Howard Gardner. In this theory, intelligence is defined in a variety of ways. Each child may have strengths in certain areas, from nature smarts to people smarts to logic smarts.
People with strong music smarts thrive in surroundings full of music. They also notice sounds and rhythms in their everyday lives. The clickety-clack of trains on tracks, the sweet conversations between songbirds, the chiming of doorbells, and more influence the music-smart person as much ...