Learning with sound recordings: A history of Suzuki's mediated pedagogy

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This article presents a history of mediated pedagogy in the Suzuki Method, the first widespread approach to learning an instrument in which sound recordings were central. Media are conceptualized as socially constituted: philosophical ideas, pedagogic practices, and cultural values that together form a contingent and changing technological network. Suzuki's early experiments in the 1930s and 1940s established central ideas: the importance of repetition in learning, the recording as teacher, a place for mothers in assisting learning, and the teachability of talent. Suzuki also refined approaches to learning through specialized modes of listening as he examined tens of thousands of student graduation tapes. During the 1960s, Kendall published the first translation of the method in the United States, and his correspondence with Suzuki along with writings for teachers provide a window into evolving pedagogic practices. The method's mediated pedagogy changed radically in the 1970s as cassette tapes allowed students to be easily recorded for the first time. The article also considers cultural values and the contingency of media through the vastly different acceptance of recordings in the Japanese and US contexts, including efforts by Kendall during the 1980s to eliminate Suzuki's controversial practice of advanced recitals played to recorded accompaniment. Copyright © 2018 National Association for Music Education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-30
JournalJournal of Research in Music Education
Issue number1
Early online date07 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


Thibeault, M. D. (2018). Learning with sound recordings: A history of Suzuki's mediated pedagogy. Journal of Research in Music Education, 66(1), 6-30. doi: 10.1177/0022429418756879


  • History
  • String education
  • Suzuki method
  • Sound studies


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