In this series of posts on the cornerstones of the Suzuki Method, it is only fit that I begin with review songs. Of the four cornerstones, this is perhaps the most essential.
So, why are review songs so important? Musically, they are vitally important because it is on review songs that good technique and therefore musicality are achieved. If you are skeptical, try taking a brand new song and playing it with 100% accuracy of notes and rhythm, as well as perfect technique and musicality. It is impossible to achieve all that at once. Review songs are a process, giving each layer of technique time to be polished and refined before moving on to the next.
Of course, the Suzuki Method is very much aimed at character development, which is another aspect of the importance of review songs. The hard work required to learn new songs builds endurance, but there are many more character traits that can be developed in keeping up review songs. The first traits learned are self-control and endurance, as a student disciplines himself to do what is assigned him, even when it seems tedious or boring or even pointless. Diligence and responsibility are needed for the necessary practice which solidifies each step, while attentiveness enables the student to grasp the details of each new technical layer. In addition to these, a student must have the wisdom to receive instruction, and the humility to be teachable.
If these reasons are not enough, one might consider the inefficiency of learning new songs without reviewing them. One puts hard work, energy, and time into learning a new piece. If the piece is never reviewed, however, all that work, energy and time is in vain. Think of the wasted hours spent learning new songs that will be finished only to be forgotten.
To learn a new piece is good, but one cannot be always learning the new without reviewing the old. So take heart, and stand firm through the difficulties, the tantrums, --whether yours or your child’s-- the tedium, and the character-stretching, and your efforts will be rewarded with greater musicality and firmer character.